Synopsis by Mark Deming
A fabled moment in the history of Thailand sets the stage for this lavishly mounted historical epic. In 1528, Thailand's leadership is in chaos, as the Northern and Southern factions of the nation declare their own kings; in the midst of this confusion, young Suriyothai (M.L. Piyapas Bhirombhhakdi) is forced to marry Prince Tien (Sarunyoo Wongkrachang) and leave behind her true love, Piren (Chatchai Plengpanich). In time, Prince Tien becomes the nation's sole ruler, but King Tabinshweti (Suphakit Tangthatswasd), the ruler of nearby Burma, declares his designs upon Thailand; and as the two countries go to war in 1548, Tien is lost in battle. As Thailand's independence hangs in the balance, Suriyothai stands as her nation's new champion; she rallies the Thai forces, and, traveling by elephant, leads a brave and determined campaign against the invading Burmese troops. Suriyothai originally opened in Thailand in the summer of 2001, screening in a sprawling 185-minute version, and became one of the country's biggest box-office hits. Two years later, director Chatrichalerm Yukol, a member of Thai royalty, reshaped the film for international release with the help of his friend Francis Ford Coppola; the film was shortened to 142 minutes and retitled The Legend of Suriyothai.
Thailand, civil-war, invasion, marriage-arranged, monarch, sacrifice, showdown, throne