Historic discovery of earliest sound films shot in Thailand

Four films made nearly 100 years ago are believed to be the first sound films recorded in Thailand. The films were screened at the Thai Film Archive for the first time on Monday.

Film historian Dome Sukhawong discovered the films in 2018, in the University of South Carolina archives. Dome is a founder of the Thai Film Archive, which received high-quality copies of the films in July. All reels were shot by Fox Movietone and recorded in 1930.

One film is of a traditional Thai musical group, while another shows a three person group playing western music and doing a funny dance. The third film depicts a puppet play performed for Queen Rambai Barni, the wife of Rama VII, while the last clip shows monks chanting, a baby being bathed in a metal bowl, and a navy officer talking to a girl.

#1 Royal Siamese Musicians Filmed in 1930

Siamese string bands and a marimba orchestra play several traditional Thai songs as well as a rendition of the American song, “Yankee Doodle.” Scenes also include a woman dancing in flapper dress and a woman singing while a band plays. Filmed on March 21, 1930. Credit: University of South Carolina

#2 Venice of the Orient: Vintage Film of Bangkok in 1930

Scenes of monks chanting and reciting prayer. Two babies sit in bathing bowls. Thai couples dance in a modern American style. A couple, one in a sailor suit, talk in Thai on a park bench. Filmed on March 22, 1930. Credit: University of South Carolina

#3 A Puppet Show in Bangkok 1930

Scenes from a puppet show sponsored by the Queen of Siam Rambhai Barni. Filmed on March 20, 1930. Credit: University of South Carolina

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