Pure Asian Entertainment: Film, TV, Anime & Manga

A Visually Stunning, Bold, and Intensely Moving Film

  • May 19, 2005
JAN DARA is one of those rare films that succeeds on many levels: the story as adapted from a famous Thai novel 'The Story of Jan Dara' by Utsana Phleungtham is one of intrigue and exploration of lust, revenge, and thwarted passion; the cinematography by Nattawut Kittikhun is incredibly atmospheric while at the same time pausing for some of the most beautiful studies of nature on film; the musical score by Chartchai Pongprapapan and Pakawat Waiwitaya mixes the exotic pentatonic Oriental melodies with quaint excerpts from early recordings of Richard Strauss and Puccini operas; the direction by Nonzee Nimibutr is so sensuously elegant that this film firmly establishes him as an important figure in international filmmaking.

Simply stated, the story is about Jan Dara, the son of a woman who died giving birth to him, his life as an abused and unwanted child in the house of his 'father' spent searching for the love of his lost mother, his first encounters with passion and love, his adaptation to the realities of surviving in a family fraught with conflicts and bizarrely tangled interrelationships, and the disillusionment that comes with the discovery of his true family history and how the way his life comes full circle. It is a period piece and includes the outside effects of WW II in an otherwise sequestered house of strange isolation.

While JAN DARA includes many sensuous scenes (the 'first memory' of Jan Dara is watching his 'father' in an indiscretion with his beloved aunt), these scenes are photographed so sensitively that they become studies like Kama Sutra paintings rather than being vulgar. The story makes many flashbacks and flashforwards and keeping the various actors at the different ages of these sequences straight can be problematic. The cast is uniformly excellent and credible, even when they may be too evil to watch!

Here is an example of Oriental films that don't rely on choreographic martial arts to sustain interest. In that way it is similar to the beautiful SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER, SPRING, and for those who enjoy the subtle arts of Asia this film is a must. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, May 05

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More Jan Dara (Original Thai Versio... reviews
review by . December 20, 2008
posted in ASIANatomy
Dvd cover
JAN DARA is a Thai film based on the novel "The Story of Jan Dara" by Utsana Phlengtham. Directed by Nonzee Nimibutr (Nang Nak), the film caused quite a stir in Thailand because of its illicit material. I saw this film in early 2006 and it silenced my voice for awhile, I just couldn't bring myself to review it; I believe it's because of its strong and sensitive themes. Sometimes I think there is a double standard when it comes to film-making. When European film-makers produces …
review by . January 17, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
I was quickly won over with one reviewer's perception of this film and sure enough this film was very interesting and intriguing enough for me to never leave my seat. Jan Dara opens with the eccentric statement that the film is based on the writer's first novel, and that it's not for religious people. Jan Dara is a young Thai with a traumatic background. The name "Jan Dara" is given to an infant boy whose mother died giving birth to him. The father (Santisuk Promsiri) blames the boy, actually giving …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie


Enter the exotic and haunting world of JAN DARA; a saga of sex, guilt, retribution and love set in the moody and turbulent Thailand of the 1930s. Jan Dara, a young Thai man whose earliest memories recall his father having sex with his childhood nanny. Jan Dara's mother dies after giving birth to him. Eventually he's disowned by his father which brands him as a bastard in the Thai culture. Years later Jan Dara returns to see revenge by outdoing his father's sexual conquests. Based on one of the most acclaimed Thai novels of the 20th century and directed by one of Thai cinema's most successful and accomplished directors Nonzee Nimibutr (NANG NAK and BAYTONG).
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Genre: Drama
Release Date: January 1, 2002
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 1hr 52min
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