Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Through the lens of another

Ayuthaya is among the many central Thai cities that I never got around to exploring. Being one of Thailand's older centers for manufacturing and trade - to say nothing of its former political primacy - it is purported to have long been home to a muscular movie-going tradition. 

Like all of Thailand's larger cities, the Ayuthaya cinema scene of today exists only in shopping malls. Gone are the days of cavernous stand-alones with a solitary screen. Ruins of this bygone tradition still feather the streets in a few places, however.

These two photos of the Chao Phraya Theater come courtesy of guest photographer, "Omae Desu," who has graciously lent his time and talents where distance has left my camera covered in mothballs. 

The Chao Phraya is the quintessential Thai stand-alone of the 1970's to early 80's. Free-standing letters rise high above a structural design deeply informed by the tenets of the International Style. Almost corporate in gauge, this is one of the last styles that Thai movie theaters were built in before corporatism did indeed overrun the movie exhibition industry. The boxy facade, with or without windows to lighten its heft, soon gave way to the mall-bound multiplex, plunging Thai cinema architecture into an aesthetically moot craft.

By Omae's estimates, the Chao Phraya Theater won't be around much longer.