8 Thainess Details You May Have Missed From The Latest Mickey Mouse Short
Disney released a short film directed by Alonso Ramirez Ramos and within a few days, the video became a talk of the town here in Thailand. Our Floating Dreams is set in a busy floating market in Thailand with Mickey and Minnie embroiled in a Thai soap opera-like plot. At first glance, the Thainess seems stereotypical with words like “sawasdee” and “mai pen rai” sprinkled across the scenes. Mickey’s peculiar royal purple chong kraben with a golden belt and white tank top does not feel quite right either. However, after rewatching the short film, we found that the maker actually did quite an amazing job illustrating Thai culture. Here the pieces of Thainess you may have missed at first glance:
1/8 Flower Mobile
In the past, life in tropical Thailand flourished along the canals. A relic of the old aquatic way of life, water markets are popular locales for locals and tourists alike. In the short animated film, we see an elephant character expressing gratitude by performing the wai. However, the detail that you might have missed is the pendant garland. Called kleuang kwaen, these flower mobiles made from fragrant blossoms like jasmine and magnolia. When suspended on windows, the house is perfumed with the aroma the wind carries in.
As the story progress, we see Minnie and Mickey fighting for the pier numbered 999. The digits could be dismissed as random, but they are actually far from that. Thai culture is intertwined with beliefs such as numerology, and the word for the number nine is very much favoured because it is the homophone to the word "advancement".
3/8 Pheasant & Dog
Upset with each other early into the animation, the famous Disney couple compete for customers. One of the targets we see is a haughty pheasant and bulldog. This is an intentional reference to the idiom gai fah gub ma wat. Literally translated as "a pheasant and a temple dog", the idiom refers to a couple in which the woman seems too good for the man.
4/8 Kwang Beetle Fighting
As the two main characters decide to settle their feud the hard way, failing to sell to any customers, we see two beetles wrestling. This is yet another reference to an element of Thai culture, kwang beetle fighting, a popular past-time in Northern Thailand.
5/8 Red & Blue
As the fight erupts, we get a clear look of Mickey and Minnie's boats. A fan of muay Thai would definitely recognise this combination. In Thai boxing, opposing fighters are always marked by two colours: red and blue.
6/8 Temple Fair Aesthetic
The name Our Floating Dream is reminiscent of old Thai films from the 60s, and imagery further echoes this theme. When the pineapple fried rice is discovered by chance, we encounter an idyllic moment of stringed lights that Thais would instinctively relate to temple fairs. This part is poignant as temples are still very much the centre of the people's way of life.
7/8 Thai Flag
Finally deciding to join forces, Mickey and Minnie build one boat from their old vessels. Parts are assembled forming the appearance of the Thai flag, the symbol of the country's unity.
8/8 The Accidential Touch
Lastly, you can't have a Thai soap without this scene: the male and female protagonists accidentally have physical contact, triggering their inevitable spiral into love.
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