Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pous Keng Korng ពស់កេងកង

Bangkok Post បាងកកប៉ុស្តិ
The girl with a head full of baby-snakes wasn't the only screen celeb of the pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodian cinema.

To follow up on my piece in the Post about Khmer films ("A Bridge Over Troubled Waters", which was naturally hampered by limited space and the inherently two-dimensional quality of the print media, I have posted the links to YouTube clips of Cambodian movies during the country's "Golden Age" of the 1960s and 1970s in this article, for your viewing experience.

Like I wrote in the previous column, the most internationally famous Khmer film, still remembered by many Thais (above 40), was Puos Keng Korng, a 1970 folkloric supernatural romance about Soraya, a half-human, half-snake girl whose mother had sex with a giant snake, and thus she was born with a head full of crawling vipers.

The film was released in Thai theatres -- and became a phenomenon in many countries around Asia. Its lead actress Dy Saveth was later cast to star in a number of Thai films opposite big-name Siamese actors in those days. (Too bad I couldn't find her picture with the legendary snake-head). For a short video clip of Pous Keng Korng, see below. There are no subtitles, but it's actually a music video with a song sung by the famous Sinn Sisamouth, and you'll get the idea.

Dy Saveth survived the Khmer Rouge reign, but the film's lead actor, Chea Yuthorn, was believed to be killed during the war.The film's director, Tar Lym Kun, fled to Canada and is believed to still be alive.

Pous Keng Korng was remade in 2001, with a Thai actor, Vinai Kraibutr, starring opposite Khmer beauty Pik Chanboramai (see trailer below). Strangely, the Thai title of the film, Ngu Keng Kong, spawned a number of B-grade copycat movies, usually with soft-core nature. Inter-species erotica has a strange pul.

But the serpent-headed beauty wasn't the only screen celeb back then before Pol Pot arrived. It's reported that around 33 out of nearly 400 films made during the pre-Khmer Rouge decade survived -- recently there was a screening event of those titles in Phnom Penh, called The Golden Reawakening. Here, check out the clip of Puthisen Neang Kong Ray (see clip below), or 12 Sisters, a Khmer tale that has an exactly similar Siamese version, called Nang Sib Song (it's often made into TV series).

The story is truly bizarre, with a touch of the exotic grotesquerie typical of our supernatural Souteast Asia: A wonderfully virile king impregnates 12 sisters, all of them his wives. But an ogress seduces the king (an ogress!) and convinces him to gouge out the eyes of the 12 sisters and banish them to a cave -- which the king duly does. Later, the sisters give birth to their babies, and all but one of them decide to eat their own children. So one boy survives, and when he becomes a young man he reveals the truth to his father, much to the hysterical thrashing-about of the wicked ogress.

Finally let's hear a song from the film Thansua Soben, which was released in a Thai theatre in 1971 (see clip below). The influence of Chinese opeara is all over, and the music is really sweet. The film tells the story of a girl who disguises herself as boy and later falls in love with a male student.
It's believed that the film's cast perished during the Khmer Rouge war.
(Thanks to Donsaron Kovitvanicha)

1 comment:

My Community Networking said...

It is good to know that Thai people love this movie