Film or Flick?: Bundit Rittakol’s Youth Films as A Reflection of Resistance to Socio-Cultural Transition in Thailand
Based on the theory that the film medium is of high value in reflecting socio-cultural matters, this research studied ten youth films directed by Bundit Rittakol during the 1980s-2000s in order to provide an understanding of how his films can be associated with the socio-cultural changes occurring at that time. During the 1980s- 2000s, Thai society went through a period of economic and social transition with the adoption of a liberalized economy, influenced by globalization and democratization.
Many mainstream media outlets have provided content that has tended to support these socio-cultural changes, but Bundit Rittakol’s youth films speak against this transition as can be interpreted from the themes that can be found in the films. The first theme is the projection of the central youth characters having what many consider to be ‘desirable’ characteristics, mostly in conformity to traditional Thai behavior and rejecting the changing lifestyle of that time. The second theme concerns the negative portrayal of modern society in which elements indicative of socio-economic modernism and change are associated with characters in antagonistic roles or actions or events that result in unfavorable consequences. The final theme stresses what Bundit deemed to be positive images of mainstream Thainess, such as an idealized agricultural lifestyle or strong faith in Buddhism. At times, specific cultural contexts are depicted in association with key characters as if to remind the audience of the Thai identity from a traditional perspective, meaning that Bundit chose to not compromise with the changes that were predominant in society at that time. Therefore, it can be concluded that his youth films provided a view that countered the impact of globalization by using a localization of images as a reflection of resistance.