Masters

Cemetery of Splendour

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

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A young medium and a middle-aged hospital volunteer investigate a case of mass sleeping sickness that may have supernatural roots, in the gorgeous, mysterious, and gently humorous new film from Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives).

In the gorgeous, mysterious, and gently humorous new film by Palme d'Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), the filmmaker returns to his home in Thailand's troubled northeast region of Isan to search for the spirits of the past and explore the world of his personal memories.

Blending neuroscience, Khmer animism, meditations on war and death, and the quotidian details of everyday life in a small village within a relatively linear narrative, Apichatpong has made a film at once very similar to and very different from his previous acclaimed works.

Cemetery of Splendour is set in an improvised hospital where a group of soldiers, seized by an unknown illness during an excavation project nearby, have fallen into a blissful yet seemingly perpetual slumber. The good-hearted local Jen (Apichatpong regular Jenjira Pongpas Widner) volunteers to help care for the sleeping soldiers, and becomes particularly attached to one of them, the handsome young Itt (Banlop Lomnoi). Also working at the hospital is Keng (Jarinpattra Rueangram), a young medium who helps family members make psychic contact with the comatose men. As Keng continues to probe their minds, Itt's notebook is found to be dense with strange writing and sketches, and it begins to seem that the soldiers' enigmatic affliction might be related to the ancient archeological site that lies beneath the clinic.

A sublime fusion of history, memory, socio-political allegory, and mysticism, Cemetery of Splendour creates an enchanted world where the present coexists with the past, dreams are real, and magic emerges from the mundane. Seen in the sanctity of a darkened theatre, this is a truly awesome experience that is never to be forgotten.

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