Royal Thai Film Director Studies Ancient Burmese Battlegrounds

By Yan Pai 11 September 2014

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A film director from Thailand’s royal family has visited Burma for pre-production research before shooting the latest in a film series about an ancient Thai king.

“The Legend of King Naresuan Part VI,” which will be filmed in Thailand, will feature a re-enactment of the Thai king’s attack on Toungoo, now in Burma’s Bago Division. The director, Chatrichalerm Yukol, came to Burma last weekend to study the historic battlegrounds for two days, according to historian Mya Thaung, who guided the film crew around the city.

“They already built a set for the film. They came here to study the terrain of the major battlegrounds where King Naresuan launched the attack,” the historian told The Irrawaddy. “They took photographs and drew sketches to help them create the set back in Thailand.”

Naresuan ruled the Ayutthaya kingdom from 1590 until his death in 1605.

The film crew studied the area near Kywemagu and Yenwe creeks, where Narusuan stationed his troops, and along Sittaung River, where the troops marched on their way to Toungoo. The crew also examined old Kaytumati City and its moat and conduit, while the director, Chatrichalerm Yukol, visited towns that were satellite suburbs of Toungoo during the Toungoo dynasty.

Though he is a member of the royal family, Chatrichalerm Yukol reportedly does not plan to approach the film series with the nationalistic fervor that other Thai directors have shown.

The plot begins as a Burmese king, Bayinnaung, takes 9-year-old Naresuan hostage to Hanthawaddy, the capital of the Burmese kingdom by the same name, in a bid to keep Naresuan’s Ayutthaya kingdom subservient. In captivity, Prince Naresuan learns military and leadership skills at a Burmese monastery. After the Burmese king passes away, Naresuan unifies the Thai people and in 1584 he fights back against the king’s successor, Nanda, for independence.

Burmese historical records say Narusean stationed his troops at Kywemagu Kyunchaung and attempted to enter Hanthawaddy by draining water from Kaytumati Moat through Ayutthaya conduit to Sittaung River. But the Thai vessels that were carrying food supplies came under attack and the soldiers were forced to withdraw.

During the subsequent reign of Burmese King Anaukpetlun in Inwa in Mandalay Division, Narusean died of what is believed to have been smallpox on his march to Shan State through the Thai city of Chiang Mai, according to historical records.

Last June, “The Legend of King Narusean Part V” was shown at cinemas across Thailand by the Thai government in an attempt to boost nationalism.