Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Ratchatewi Rama - Bangkok, Thailand

The Ratchatewi Rama was a second-run movie theater in an area of Bangkok with same name. It was the last surviving stand-alone theater in a neighborhood where there were once many, including some of Bangkok's most opulent movie palaces. They've all been torn down to make way for condominium towers.

Street scape perspective of Petchburi Road soi 12/8, where the marquee for the Ratchatewi Rama Theater has served as a gateway to solace for this densely populated, central Bangkok neighborhood since the early 1970's.

Street side sign

Had I come here just three months earlier I would have had the most gratifying experience of watching a movie in this quintessential Bangkok neighborhood theater. Regretfully, my timing was bad. Economic realities care little for nostalgia. By the time I encountered the Ratchatewi Rama it was in the process of being gutted and turned into a parking garage - an unfortunate form of cultural execution.

This woman has been selling Bar-B-Q pork skewers in front of the Ratchatewi Rama Theater for the past 5 years. Suffice to say her business is going to take a loss now that the theater is closed.

The recently stripped-down auditorium, looking towards where the screen once was.

The auditorium, looking towards the balcony, where a worker had set up a tent to live in during the conversion process.

The Ratchatewi Rama Theater had over 700 seats waiting to transport spectators into another world. It was never a glamorous theater, by any means, but it served as a fine space of leisure and entertainment for the residents and workers of the Ratchatewi neighborhood. In its newest incarnation it will house cars. What a poor exchange of function!

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