Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Bangkok Hilton.

A young woman, Katrina Stanton, goes in search of the father she has never known and who she originally thought was dead, that is until her mother passed away and she discovered a secret diary. It was Katrina’s grandmother who sent her father away because of his dishonourable discharge from the army.  Her search takes her from Australia to England where she meets her uncle who informs her about the details of Hal Stanton’s life suggesting she continues her search in Bangkok for a man who can not face his past, an ex lawyer who has turned to alcohol for solace. There she meets a charming young man, Arkie Regan, who unbeknown to her plants drugs in her luggage and deserts her when the authorities find them during a routine search at the airport. Following her imprisonment in the notorious Bangkok Hilton prison she awaits the decision of the authorities on whether she should face the death penalty. Her only contact in Bangkok is her father’s solicitor who refuses to divulge her father’s whereabouts but agrees to help her defence.

Normally I would not blog a TV Mini Series, but in the case of Bangkok Hilton (1989) there are mitigating circumstances. Firstly it’s a very good series and secondly it stars Nicole Kidman in her pre-Hollywood days as Katrina Stanton.  This six part mini series was written for her by Terry Hayes and inspired by a true story, the Barlow Chambers case which took place in in Malaysia in 1986 when two men where hanged for heroin smuggling. Nicole appears opposite the experienced English actor Denholm Elliott who plays her father, Hugo Weaving, who was seen recently in Mystery Road (2013), portrays Richard Carlisle the family solicitor with Jerome Ehlers as Regan. Originally broadcast on Australian television as three two-hour episodes in November 1989 and on the UK TV in April 1990. The DVD release was split into 6 episodes at approx. 45 minutes each (no adverts of course).   
Nicole Kidman plays opposite....

the English actor Denholm Elliott.

Nicole Kidman was quite busy during this period with firstly Emerald City (1988) and then her breakthrough film Dead Calm in 1989 which would lead to her Hollywood debut opposite Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder in 1990. In Bangkok Hilton she is excellent, it’s quite rightly regarded as one of her best performances. With director Ken Cameron commenting ‘you are constantly surprised by the fact that one moment she seems to be a very young women enjoying herself and being completely spontaneous. The next minute she is a serious actress, capable of a performance that can move you in a way that you don’t expect from one so young. (She was 22 years old at the time) She looks wonderful, is enormously appealing on screen, and has something about her which belongs to the time. To have all these quantities is a rare thing’[1].   

Life in the Bangkok Hilton.

The whole project is superior to many movies. Very well written and acted, which like me I’m sure you will find gripping and authentic and although the ‘clothes’ may have dated the actual story could easily be happening right this minute.

[1] David Thomson - Nicole Kidman 2006.

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