Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Mongkol Rama - Tha Rua, Tha Maka District, Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand

A brief sojourn into Kanchanaburi Province proved fruitful, if only in a jilted kind of way. The two found fruits were predictably lifeless. One more so than the other. The more abandoned of the two theaters was the Mongkol Rama. Nevertheless, the beauty within was undeniable, even coated in think layers of dust and grime. 


The Mongkol Rama - abandoned and partially concealed by a tree.

The Mongkol Rama of Tha Rua town was designed in the same vein as countless Thai theaters built during the 1960's and 70's. To access the theater, one would have to enter an alley between a break in the buildings, usually denoted by a street-side marquee and some eye-catching signage. The soi would open onto a retail plaza consisting of 2 and 3 story shop houses. In the center of the plaza stood the movie theater, which served as the anchor business for the entire development.

As Thailand's stand-alone theaters went the way of the Woolly Mammoth, the surrounding businesses - dependent for survival on the foot traffic of movie-goers - fell on hard times, too. Today these developments tend to verge on dystopian nightmares. If they're not fully derelict, then only a fraction of their store fronts are open for business. The dearth of investment has led to a blighted appearance, while their concealment makes them perfect haunts for the idle.

As decrepit as they may look, though, these spaces are solid. Built of brick and reinforced concrete, they will last for years to come if only properly maintained. 


A fallen poster hangs from the poster board.


The reverse side says "mid-night." Mid-night screenings often featured x-rated films.


Ticket booth



The last price charged for ticket at the Mongkol Rama was 20 baht.


Up to the third level.


The face of the Mongkol Rama is made of perforated concrete blocks to allow air in.


A built in bench


A 440 seat auditorium falling to pieces.




Like many mid-century Thai movie theaters, the design of the Mongkol Rama is basic. The facade is made of perforated cinder bricks, which allow air to circulate freely in the lobby areas. Sadly, the defining exterior feature of the this building - the signage - has been removed, leaving only empty metal cut outs in its place.

Locals dated the Mongkol Rama to 1970. It was built by a man named Bu Seng. 

It closed in 1993.   



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