While it may be true that this historical epic covers a particularly dramatic and significant time in Thailand during the 16th century, when the country's very survival was in question, The Legend of Suriyothai attempts to cover so much of it that the dramatic effect becomes too diffuse to be engaging. There is, however, much to admire, and history buffs, Thais, and the art crowd might support it with some attendance at the box office. The rest of us will do well to wait for a TV release where it would be an ideal PBS entry.

It starts with great appeal, in the person of young Suriyothai (Pimolrat Pisolyabutras), a princess of the ruling dynasty whose love for young Lord Piren is as obvious as it is returned in full. But, before we go thinking that this is going to be a love story, the reality is thrust upon us (and her) that she's been betrothed to Tien, the son of King Atitaya, a marriage with significant political importance. Her acceptance of this match, instead of going with her heart, will be the first of many sacrifices she makes for her country, culminating in her final act.

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