Jump to content
Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

Muay Noir: Where Muay Thai Photography and Film Noir Meet

Recommended Posts

11 minutes ago, threeoaks said:

This is a seminar.  I’ll be studying later.  Night of the Hunter is a favorite.  It’s all I can do not to tattoo “Love Hate” on my knuckles.

I'm still thinking about your questions about performativity and femininity. There is really a perfomative aspect of Film Noir and also in Muay Thai, and there is a hyper-masculinity in both, but I'm not quite sure how they connect up. We get that line of Dorothy Parker's "Scratch an actor, you find an actress". The Film Noir construct seems to be pretty bulwarked against any such revelation, even if true. In some ways the performative elements of masculinity are the essence of masculinity, especially when we climb out of western sensibilities. The Samurai, highly performative. The executioner. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

More on classic Film Noir aesthetics, from Paul Schrader's - Notes on Film Noir

 

Film Noir Aesthetics.PNG

Film Noir Aesthetics 2.PNG

Film Noir Aesthetics 3.PNG

 

Most interesting in these observations to me is #3, that the subject and the context are given the same lighting. I experience Noir as plucking out the subject from the darkness, with the avenue of light, while I can definitely see what Schrader is saying. This is maybe a fundamental tension of a subject swallowed up by the corrupting or oeneric world, and the subject disjoined from it. Maybe there is a passing into and out of existence, between these two poles. I have to think on this.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In terms of personal inspiration again, Kurasawa all the way.  I've read that there is some debate about how many of his films would qualify as Film Noir (some fancy a very narrow boundary), but a film like Stray Dog (1949) definitely fits the bill, and is incredible. For my part, a great number of Kurasawa films are quite Noir, so many of them in the aftermath of a disillusionment in society. This is leaving aside for a moment his Samurai films, which may be one of the more important templates for a Muay Noir photography.

Kurasawa is a director who sometimes slips from my mind despite having enormous impact on me, visually, and when I go back to him I shake my head and think to myself: There may never have been as great a director as him.

Stray Dog

Kurasawa Noir.jpeg

Kurasawa Stray Dog Noir.png

Kurasawa Film Noir stray dog.jpg

Kurasawa Film Noir.png

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Logic of Shadows

Doing a little research into the aesthetic of Film Noir last night we watched Jeanne Eagels (1957) with Kim Novak. I was drawn to it because it was in a list of Noir genre busting Film Noir films, in a critical essay list that included 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was filled with beautiful frames. But this series below just captured my brain. Kim Novak, caught in emotional desperation, turns her face away from an old flame who has come to save her from self-destruction. I'm just mesmerized by her turn-away, how she suddenly incandesces in almost a blownout white of sun, as she turns away, despondent. The Logic of Shadows. Here is is "going away", but growing brighter, which in just a few frames enacts her tragic arc as a character in the film, a kind of Icarus of morality. Catching more light, but burning up. It shows that even in a simple binary of light and dark you can compose a calculus of great meaning.

Kim Novak Muay Noir.jpg

Kim Novak Film Noir.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

An interesting dimension to walk when thinking of a possible Muay Noir, is that in the minds of many film critics, Film Noir does not constitute a genre. Writers like Paul Schrader like to say that Film Noir is just literally "black film" (as opposed to gray film, or off-white film), meaning, I assume, it's a gray scale pallete choice. One is painting towards that end of the scale. Thinking in these terms, instead of grafting on genre or definition types, presents us with a much more open ended set of possibilities. For instance my thought that for me darkness slows time down, brings a sense of peace, asethetically goes against many of the more genre-centric uses of darkness (to produce tension, or foreboding). This kind of reversal is much more understandable if you just start from the "Black Film" perspective. What does Black Film give us or present as possible? We are looking at a pallete, and a relationship to light, and maybe less than an appeal to a convention.

I don't think we can push this too far and still meaningfully use the reference Film Noir, but it can act as a creative starting place.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

MV5BZWM2MDZkMzUtMjBlMC00ZDRkLWFmODctOGU3NGNkMWQwOTk1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTE2NzA0Ng@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,702,1000_AL_.jpg

This isn't the right composition, obviously, but this frame from the film Laura (1944) taught me something in my recent research into Film Noir classics. I was quite surprised by the flatness of the photography of the film, which seemed like it lacked something of the teeth of what I've come to expect from the Noir Aesthetic. But this scene, an interrogation scene, opened up an interesting truth or concept in the Noir workings. While much of the film lacked photographic depth, this scene did not. The blacks produced great depth, with Gene Teirney's face floating above it, almost supernaturally. It gave me to wonder if this is the purpose of shadow effects in Film Noir, a way to create photographic depth, a rich sense of swimming in something. And, sympathetically, this could be the same for any Noir approach to Muay Thai photography. The Bas Relief effect. I feel like I touched on this in the thread above, in another manner, but it is interesting how the study of a subject can provide you with the negative of a positive, the absence bringing forward the subject.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/19/2019 at 11:08 PM, WaltZinkPhotography said:

These may or may not be in the same vein. My removal of color definitely is a bit different than the typical black and white we think of with noir. Still, I think the sport - as well as the country of Thailand! - lends itself well to noir photography.

IMG_0574-2.jpg

IMG_9400-2.jpg

Who is this fighter please Kevin? 
 

Just absolutely love your work 🙏🏼❤️

Thank you for sharing 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Additional study material, unpacking the historical development of the Noir aesthetic, if anyone wants to follow along:
 

Quote

 

Deadly Deviations, Subversive Cinema: The Influence of Hollywood Film Noir on the French New Wave (Ph.D Dissertation)

This dissertation develops a comprehensive study of the influence exerted by Hollywood “genre” cinema, in particular the B-series film noir, on the French New Wave. Initially, I ask if this relationship is not the principle identifying criterion of New Wave cinema. It is, after all, a matter of record that Hollywood’s cheaply-made B-movies were championed by the critics of Cahiers du cinéma as permitting authorial self-expression and as encouraging cinematic innovation and evolution. Genre cinema subsequently remained a preoccupation for the New Wave auteurs, who made no fewer than fifty gangster and crime films between 1958 and 1965, including many of the New Wave’s most iconic films. I therefore embark on a comparative study that considers in great detail the New Wave’s reprisal and adaptation of the film noir format, with my analyses focused not only on character and plot conventions, but also on the tropes, aesthetics and filmmaking production techniques common to both cinemas. I show how the two cinemas cross-pollinate, especially given that the French polar itself exerted influence on Hollywood film noir and that French critics were among the first to identify the new tendency towards making film noir in postwar Hollywood. I also draw a number of important conclusions. Primarily, I show that while the New Wave borrows extensively from Hollywood aesthetics, its manipulation and subversion of American film noir conventions are also at the very heart of the politique des auteurs. This politique is characterized by a profound dissatisfaction with their era, the Americanization of French society, France’s involvement in Algeria, and a reticence about the impending sexual liberation movement. I contextualize my project within the current debate in film and French studies regarding the legacy of the New Wave, particularly in light of a tendency to cast doubt on the movement’s involvement with “the political,” as well as to dispute the New Wave’s status as a defining moment in French cinema.

source, download the entire paper

Quote

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In posting a new photo in the Noir aesthetic, a portrait of the legend Wangchannoi, it struck me something that should have been obvious, but for some reason I never caught. There is a very real - sociological, identity laden - way in which Muay Thai fighters are aligned with the image of the Gangster. I think unconsciously using cinematic tropes that encapsulate the picture of the American Gangster, Film Noir, somehow work to braid western and Thai conceptions of manliness. In fact, this photo has some of this. Wangchannoi in particular was known for his savage, violent, but ultra cool fighting style. Seeing him here, later in life, in a Noir light, somehow embodies that in a very curious and emotive way:

1214599071_SylvieandWangchannoi-MuayNoir.thumb.jpg.96a8d815ca86d6e735eca24a19c07233.jpg

 

If you want to read more on the connection between the Nak Muay (Muay Thai fighter) and the Nakleng (gangster) in Thai culture, this article and essay is indispensable:

Thai Masculinity: Positioning Nak Muay Between Monkhood and Nak Leng – Peter Vail

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm uncovering for myself, just tracing the line of contrast in Noir back through time, that German Expressionism in film (this I knew about), but also silent film whites play role in a Muay Noir aesthetic for me. This was really brought to bare in the film Blancanieves (Snow White), which is a 2012 homage to the silent films of Europe. It's just a beautiful film, and for me tickles so much of what Noir also carries. Here are a series of still caps I took from the film to give you an idea of what I see:

A Muay Noir aesthetic can draw on the morality tale tradition of German Expressionism, which you find in this film, and which the Noir Universe also absorbed.

 

 

 

 

snowwhite9999.PNG

snowwhite9998.PNG

snowwhite9997.PNG

snowwhite9996.PNG

snowwhite9995.PNG

snowwhite9994.PNG

snowwhite9993.PNG

snowwhite9992.PNG

snowwhite9991.PNG

snowwhite999.PNG

snowwhite998.PNG

snowwhite997.PNG

snowwhite996.PNG

snowwhite995.PNG

snowwhite994.PNG

snowwhite993.PNG

snowwhite992.PNG

snowwhite991.PNG

snowwhite99.PNG

snowwhite98.PNG

snowwhite97.PNG

snowwhite95.PNG

snowwhite96.PNG

snowwhite94.PNG

snowwhite93.PNG

snowwhite92.PNG

snowwhite91.PNG

snowwhite9.PNG

snowwhite8.PNG

snowwhite7.PNG

snowwhite6.PNG

snowwhite5.PNG

snowwhite4.PNG

snowwhite3.PNG

snowwhite2.PNG

snowwhite.PNG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A contemporary photographer whose photos I think can contribute to a possible Muay Noir discussion is: https://www.instagram.com/dieter.langhart/

It's the way he handles the deep, rich, stark blacks, and the blownout whites, and then all the tonality and detail inbetween, for me. Here is a square of his photos from his Gram, but really look through it all and you'll see what I mean.

photography.thumb.png.d61374747191d7891e8b0e84a44ce4e2.png

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Most Recent Topics

  • Latest Comments

    • Another very interesting fine art parallel, beyond poetry, is that of dance. In this hour conversation I talked with Thais about the ways in which Thailand's Muay Thai sheds light on dance, and even more the case, how dance helps us see into western pursuits of Muay Thai, the development of styles, the role of techniques, pedagogy, and projects of expression.    
    • I kind of marvel at this paragraph, so much is in there. I love the references to the iambic beats, and the heartbeats. There is inner rhythm - its not just rocking back and forth, the rock sets the metronome so that every variation can ribbon off from that. Like thinking music is just a baseline. But, if you don't learn these rhythms, or even learn to look for the feet of a poem, its true, it just looks like stuff. Maybe cool stuff, oddly beautiful or styled, but its intricate, sophisticated manipulation of an opponent, a stage. You are right, so much as to be known to even be able to read what is going on. Not just technical facts, but cultural facts. The why of retreat. The why of taking an extra measure. Arts of course can always risk becoming too courtly, riding towards inefficacy, playing toward pure aesthetic, those who understand codes. But somehow - though BKK point fighting can be a thing - Muay Thai over the decades has avoided it, enriching itself from constant influx from the minor literatures of rural parlance, dialects of fighting styles far from any palace, and the fact fights are engaged in such full-contact brutality, that works to correct with consequence anything too stylized, too abstract. Muay Thai has always had this highly tensioned dialectic between BKK cosmopolitan sophistication and up-country / down-country labor and creation, which makes it unique as a historical document, and incredibly rich as a fighting knowledge. I think you are very right though about the anxiety of influence, because when you are touching Muay Thai proper, you are actually reaching across and touching a whole culture, or an array of subcultures. And when you change Muay Thai, you are changing the fabric of something more than a sport.
    • Hello together, two months ago I was moving from Finland to Canada and now need to get settled again over here which is not that easy. So far it's been quite a hard time, I'm lacking proper training and work out, have a hard time arriving here and getting used to everything. That's the reason why I didn't visit one of the 2 gyms over here yet, since they're advertising a lot of combat sports and "being a family, a gang, ...". I'm not in for such group thing these days, I just need Muay Thai. So if one of you knows someone who knows someone, a Thai who's into Muay Thai who moved to Montreal a while ago or so, who would just train me, hold pads, etc - I'd be very very grateful. Thank you all in advance and best wishes!!
  • The Latest From Open Topics Forum

    • Echoing the sentiment. 🙂 I'd definitely be interested in hoodies and pullovers as well. 
    • Some additional background on Sirichai. Lots of people know him from our Muay Thai Library session with him teaching Long Clinch, a really unique use of a clinch technique that is often only transitory. Below is the free trailer clip:   You can watch the full hour with him in the Muay Thai Library here, it's one of the best and most interesting clinch sessions in the entire Library: As a sidenote, I strongly suspect that his unorthodox Long Clinch use, which involves a low head, was eventually shunned by his first BKK stadia gym Tor. Pran49. If you lose doing unorthodox things in the stadia it can make the gamblers angry. Lots of experimental techniques and approaches get pruned by this fear of angering the gamblers. From what I recall they tried to make him more of a puncher towards the end. Because Kru Diesel has his own system, is famous for locking fighters, and Sirichai has a very good lock since he was young, I suspect we won't be seeing much Long Clinch from him now. That being said, we are thankful for being able to document his Long Clinch technique, and even writing an article about it and editing together this film study of his use of it through the first years: you can read that article on his Long Clinch here   As Sylvie says, we've known Sirichai for such a long time. He was incredibly self-driven, disciplined and quiet. If you want to know just what he was like as a fighter, we even filmed these two rounds of him destroying someone in the clinch at a festival fight 8 years ago. As you watch his fights today you can stare back at the skills and techniques he used back then, and see a continuity. And, now that he has one of the great Muay Khao krus of Thailand, we can also see what Kru Diesel's hand can do with such a diligent fighter, that already has a strong foundation. Sometimes fighters just have to find the right trainer to grow their possibilities. Here he is clinch wrecking 8 years ago:   We filmed with Kru Diesel and with Sirichai for an upcoming Library session only a few weeks ago. While there Sylvie interviewed Sirichai about his upcoming first fight. It gives a glimpse into what he is like as a person.  
    • see the highlights here I've known Poda (his play name), now fighting under the name Sirichai Klong Suan Plu Resort, since he was just a little teenager. He was from a small gym in Chiang Mai and he's ethnically Hill Tribe, a minority in Northern Thailand, which makes his success a pretty big deal. He would come to the gym I trained at, Lanna Muay Thai, to clinch with our Thai fighters prior to his fights in Bangkok. He was so disciplined that his trainer, Oley, would just tell him to do x number of knees on the bag and then he'd leave, knowing Poda would do it. I remember my trainer at the time Den, watching him and saying, "I want a gym of my own but I need boys like this. Hard working." At that time, Poda was sold to a gym in Siracha, down below Bangkok, and he changed his fight name to Tanadet Tor. Pran49, which is how he's called in the Muay Thai Library, teaching his unique Long Clinch technique. He fought a lot for that gym and they tried to change him quite a bit, to varied and diminishing success. Eventually he left the gym without his contract expiring and he's been teaching up in Chiang Mai for the past few years. Only a bit more than a month ago he moved down to Singburi to train under Kru Diesel (formerly at FA Group), a true Muay Khao builder, which I was very excited about because Poda is a thousand percent Muay Khao and a lot of the difficulties he faced in his career path seemed, to me, to be due to his gym trying to alter him from that gift. After only a little more than a month in Singburi, training Muay Khao for the first time in years (this is hard work) he's back in the ring for the first time in 3 years. I was more nervous for this fight than I am for most of my own, Kevin and I both shouting for him to lock. It was a spectacular reintroduction in to the ring, noted by everyone with eyes. Sia Boat, head of Petchyindee Academy and promotion (meaning this promotion, as well as the gym from which the opponent hails), came in after the fight to congratulate Poda and in this clip (watch it below) exclaims how impressive it is to fight like that after 3 years off, as well as telling the interviewer he has no desire to experience his lock for himself. Kru Diesel is also beaming, when asked how he feels he says he's proud, but that he doesn't take full credit because Poda is so diligent and hard working, so he's easy to teach. Watch Sia Boat congratulating Kru Diesel and Sirichai Next up for Sirichai (Poda) is said to be Praew Praew, also a Petchyindee fighter who is a serious challenge for anyone standing in front of him. They're just throwing him right back into it! I'm just stoked to be seeing him back in the ring after all this time. I'm a huge fan of him both as a person and as a fighter and I think under Kru Diesel he really has an opportunity to launch along a path that's suited to his strengths, rather than trying to roll the extraordinary out of him for the sake of a smoother kind of ordinary. If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
    • Not so sure!! But you can take a look at some these hoodies! Hope that helps..!!
  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      1.1k
    • Total Posts
      10k
×
×
  • Create New...