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Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2040-3275
  • E-ISSN: 2040-3283



Mekong Hotel (2012) is an hour-long experimental film by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Set in an old hotel overlooking the Mekong, and melding documentary and fictional modes, it interweaves a ghost story, a romance, memories of the region’s troubled history and discussions on its present-day state. The film is characterized by elements of fluidity and transgression that appear in its use of the supernatural, its setting near a border river, and its oscillating modes of film style and narration, while its ghost characters transgress the border between the living and the (un-)dead. This article explores the role of haunting in Mekong Hotel, in particular its connection with the setting of the Mekong region and the memory of its history. It argues that the ghosts in the film function as carriers of the memory of the region; they also reference older forms of cinema, namely, the vernacular horror genre of the Thai classical era and thus transport media history. Through analysis of several scenes of the film, I demonstrate that these spectral figures express repressed traumas and non-official, silenced witnessing of sensitive political issues, such as conflict along the Thai-Lao border, the 2011 floods and the construction of dams along the Mekong. By reflecting on their medial origin, they lay emphasis on a vernacular discourse and a regional point of view. The analysis is supported by allusion to other short films by the director that also centre on similar topics.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Apichatpong Weerasethakul; cinema; ghosts; Mekong; Thai politics; Thailand
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