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Year: 1978

Thai title: ครูบ้านนอก
English title: The Rural Teacher

Rating: 5/5
Director: Surasee Phatham

Main actor: Piya Trakulrard,Noppadol Duangporn
Main actress: Wassana Sitthiweth

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A new teacher, Piya (ครูปิยะ), is sent to poor Isan (อีสาน), northeastern part of Thailand, in a remote village called Baan Nong Ma Wo (บ้านหนองหมาว้อ). There are still carts with buffaloes there. An old and derelict bus is the only link to the bigger provincial city. On the way to the village, the old bus needs to give priority to big logging concession truck. The headmaster (ครูใหญ่) shares classrooms with Piya and Phisit. Dao (ดวงดาว), young lady, is the third teacher. They teach two classrooms with many children at same time. Those are outdoor classrooms with basic roof. Children have no shoes and wear old clothes. The headmaster tries his best but he is not smart. There is a welcome ceremony for the teachers. Phisit is a butterfly with ladies. The headmaster likes playing cards. There is a puppet allegory of fighting together against evil makes us stronger. Rural teachers’ job is tough. Phisit just comes here as he couldn't find another job but Piya, who is also coming from Isan, wishes to transfer his knowledge to pupils. He is an idealistic man. The village is poor and there is a need to get water from a remote pond. Piya sees many children don't have enough food to eat so he decides to plant vegetable (ปลูกผัก) in the school garden to provide them additional food. The headmaster needs to go to the city to get rural teachers’ salary but every month the salary is cut by various fees (birthday gifts to high ranking teachers, donation to temples, visiting bordel...). Local villagers use a chaman to cure people as poor people cannot afford modern doctors (หมอรักษา). Piya is pushing for an expansion of the school. All villagers like him (เป็นคนดีไม่พ่อต้องมีเงินด้วย). Khun Mongkhon, local magnate, always makes donations to the school. Dao wishes to make a local newspaper for villagers. The village head is concerned as villagers shall not become too intelligent! During a welcome party, teacher Phisit and Piya have to box some officials to protect Dao. Phisit has to leave the village as rural teachers have no value. Dao loves this place (ยากจนแต่ใจดี). Piya wishes to be a boat for children to cross the sea between poorness, wealth and knowledge. Piya witnesses some illegal tree logging. Those people have big bad influence but Piya decides to investigate. He finds the place and takes pictures to send to local newspapers. He even takes the risk to shoot the responsible leaders. Khun Mongkhon is the leader. Newspaper is published and Mongkhon suspects Piya immediately as he is infusing social ideas into the kids. Even villagers start to challenge the ruffians. The ruffians cut trees (ตัดไม้เถื่อน) so soon there will be no forest and no water for the trees. Villagers decide to protect teacher Piya as the ruffians try to shoot him. His life is in danger. Dao wants him to leave (คนที่ทำประโยชน์ให้). There is undeclared love between Dao and Piya. Piya takes refuge in a Buddhist temple. Ruffians recruit a hitman. Piya decides to go back to teach the children as it is his duty. During a moving and sad scene where the children rush out of the school to welcome Piya, he is shot to death. This movie highlights many themes such as corruption, bad influence, rural teacher dedication, education and knowledge for children in order to fight against corrupted people. There is molam (หมอลำ) music as background music as it is the symbol of poor Isan (อีสาน), northeastern part of Thailand. The movie succeeded to reap 9M Baht in year 1978 and got two awards for best scenario and best director. Surasee Phatham has directed a remake of his own movie in 2009 as he was never happy with the number of details that were edited out. Thirty years ago too, many young people were involved in social and political activities so many filmgoers found it easy to identify with the teacher. In 1978, everyone wanted to watch action movies but when the movies "The Rural Teacher" (ครูบ้านนอก) and "The Old Scar" (แผลเก่า) were released, they were successful.

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