Soul of a Nation (The Thai Royal Family in 1979)


Made in 1979 while the communist insurgency was still running in Thailand and indeed throughout SE Asia, this film gives an affectionate look at King Bhumibol and the Royal Family and their work on behalf of the country and people.

With rare interviews with the King, the Queen and their children the film turns out to be an important historical document of a time now long past; but with Thailand still politically volatile, one can see here how the King acts as a focus, and holds things together.

In the background is the very unstable situation in SE Asia at the time, with the Pol Pot regime recently overthrown in Cambodia by the expanding Vietnamese, the ending of the Laos Monarchy in 1975, and recent communist insurgencies, not just in Thailand, but in all the surrounding countries.

The documentary films and describes State Ceremonies, looks at the Institution of Kingship in the country, its history, and above all allows the Royal Family to speak about how they perceive what they are doing in many different ways to help uplift the country and the poor.

The King comes over as a real Renaissance man, with many talents: for languages, the arts and the sciences, and is seen tirelessly using his many gifts to further his country and his people.

The film appears to have been originally around 30 minutes longer than is shown here, but nowhere can I find the concluding segment of the film, all the versions that are posted seem to be based on this one.

Although the documentary therefore lacks a proper conclusion, do not let that put you off watching, the nearly two hours we do see are important and are based on an unprecedented access to the Thai Royal Family.


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