Khan Kluay the Blue Elephant

Khan Kluay was a smash hit Thai cartoon when it was first released in Thailand in May 2006. It was the first Thai cartoon made at international standard and did very well in the domestic market. The little blue elephant, called Khan Kluay, was very popular with Thai children of all ages. I know Nong Grace has watched her DVD version so many times that it has worn out. It is based around Khan Luay who, when he was young, got separated from the herd when he went off looking for his father. He was then brought up by some villagers who trained him to become a war elephant for the King of Siam. The climax of the movie is the battle against the evil Burmese invaders. Khan Kluay also manages to avenge the death of his father by killing the Burmese elephant that was responsible for his death. The movie teaches you that wars are sometimes necessary when you have to defend your homeland. It is the kind of patriotic movie not seen in the Western world since the Second World War.

In 2008, the movie reached a more international audience when it was given a Hollywood make-over and re-released as The Blue Elephant. The new English soundtrack had voice talents such as Carl Reiner and Martin Short. It was also produced by the Jim Henson Company. Nong Grace saw this English version for the first time yesterday. She actually loved it and watched it twice in a row without stopping. On the back of the DVD box, there is this promotional text which I think is a bit misleading:

“Follow THE BLUE ELEPHANT on a breathtaking journey, complete with endearing characters, belly laughs, and an uplifting message about the power of courage. Khan is a little elephant with big dreams of becoming a hero. When he gets separated from his herd, he’ll need the help of his new friends and a whole lot of bravery to find his family and fulfil his royal destiny. Join Miranda Cosgrove, Martin Short, and Carl Reiner, as they lend their voices to this fun family adventure!”

Judging by the comments on amazon.com, some mothers weren’t that happy with the cartoon after buying it for their toddlers. Thai patriotism doesn’t quite translate across the borders. However, I think it would be a hit with children whose parents are serving abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan. It helps explain what their fathers are doing for their nation. For older kids the movie is enjoyable and in fact I also enjoyed watching it with Nong Grace during the first round. I haven’t actually seen the Thai version yet but I would now be interested to compare and to see what they had changed.

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You can now follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow. I am also doing mobile blogging from the iphone at www.MyThailandBlog.com. My other new blog started a few months back is www.MyThaiPhotos.com.

3 responses to “Khan Kluay the Blue Elephant

  1. I don’t believe in brain washing children into political idealism, part of the problems in the world is due to children being influenced at a young age into traditional ideas of the previous failed generations mistakes.

  2. I would agree with you about the Burmese being seen as the bad guys all the time. Just look at the way they chiselled the face of the Thai king compared to the snake-like face of the Burmese King. Isn’t it time to forgive and forget? How can they expect to move on and prosper? This kind of characterisation will just cause border tension. Oh wait, don’t we have border skirmishes already?

  3. that’s what I would be interested in – what has been changed for the English version.
    I think the battle scenes, the sound effects etc are very scary on a big screen with surround sound system. or even on the big screen in my classroom.
    what I did not like is that from my point of view, it would be time to stop looking down on the Burmese and depicting them as evil. Thais seem to think they are a lesser race. and now another generation of Thais is brought up to believe the same. history is history. all that mess, the wars…. it shouldn’t live on. but then, if the wars are taken, how will the Thais define themselves as a nation?