After a while, you might have enough of visiting pagodas and strolling through local streets and markets in Myanmar. Then you might want to go to a Myanmar movie in a movie theatre.
I like movies, a lot. From the first time I was in Myanmar I wanted to watch a local movie. And so I did, multiple times.
Get yourself some sunflower-seeds
First of all, get yourself some food so you don’t starve during the movie. All Myanmar citizens take piles of food with them to the movie. When you look at all the food they’re bringing, you might think they’re staying for a week. Although the theatre might say that food from outside isn’t aloud, everyone does it, and nobody says something about it. The most popular movie-food: sunflower-seeds. Don’t look surprised when you find some sunflower-seed shells in your hair when leaving the theatre.
Pay respect to the flag
As all movie theatres over the world do (I guess) they show you some commercials and trailers from other movies before the movie starts. But between these trailers and the movie itself, something very peculiar is shown. The following text is shown: ‘Please all Myanmar citizens rise to pay respect to the Myanmar flag’. Then a digital Myanmar flag is shown and the national anthem is played. Everyone does stand up. I can’t imagine anyone in my country who would do the same. If this was shown in my country, they would laugh at the screen and roll with their eyes. But it’s nice to see that Myanmar citizens do feel proud about their country, even when they’re going for a relaxing evening to the movies. (It is said that when a Myanmar citizen wouldn’t rise when the flag is shown, they can be send to prison for 3 years.)
I think I’ve seen six Myanmar movies in the theatres now, and they were all subtitled in English. Which I very much appreciate. Now, these subtitles aren’t the best. Not everything is subtitled. Sometimes they just vanish for a while, like the translator went to the bathroom and forgot to pause the movie or something. Especially written parts aren’t translated, like a prologue that introduces the story, or text messages that the characters read on their phone. But they’re good enough so you can follow the story.
Now, you can’t compare the quality of these movies with American blockbusters, Indian Bollywood-movies or the spectacular Chinese action-movies. I have the feeling that there isn’t a lot of money for the Myanmar movie-industry, and they do what they can. The sound can be very bad sometimes. A lot of the scenes are recorded in real houses and rooms, not on a set, where acoustic isn’t great at all. And you can hear that very clearly.
What kind of movies?
In Myanmar you have 3 popular genres in movies. The most popular are the comedies. I don’t like these. They go for the cheap jokes with real stereotypes as the very girly gay-guy, the over-emotional girl, the very hot guy, the overprotective father, and so on. Jokes are as well supported with ‘funny’ sounds and sometimes even a laugh-band, which I find very strange for a movie.
The second genre is the scary movie. Prepare yourself for a theatre full of screaming girls and guys. If they’re not screaming, then they’re talking about the suspense. And if you don’t hear that, you hear all the smacking sounds of people opening sunflower seeds with their teeth, eating the seeds and spitting away the rest.
The third genre is the more arty kind of movie, mostly movies that involve a plotline about Buddha, monks or anything Buddhist-related.
There are also romantic movies, action movies and so on, but I have the feeling they’re not that popular as the 3 genres mentioned above.
Yes definitely. I feel that you understand a bit more of the Myanmar culture when you have seen a movie. Especially how people talk to each other, what sounds they make to call each other or what is appropriate to do in Myanmar society.
What you might notice:
- The clicking sound they make when they’re disappointed or angry.
- They all call each other ‘brother’, ‘sister’, ‘uncle’, ‘aunty’, ‘daughter’ or ‘son’.
- The respect younger people have for older people.
What movies have I seen?
- The Attachment (ဥပါဒါန္)
- The mystery of Burma: Beyond The Dotehtawady (ဒုဋ္ဌဝတီကိုလွန်၍)
- Frequency (ကြိမ်နှုန်း)
- Kyauk Kyauk Kyauk 2 (ကြောက်ကြောက်ကြောက်၂)
- Stranger’s house (သူစိမ်းအိမ်)
The latter was the best movie I’ve seen so far in Myanmar. The quality was outstanding, when you compare it to all the other movies. The plotline was good, it was really scary and the acting was great.
So, usually I go to Mega Ace Cineplex. And they have the most hilarious intro they show every time before the movie starts. And I want to show you this too.