Tum Teav (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tum and Teav
Tum Teav Logo
Directed by Fan Sam Ang
Produced by Kan Socheat
Written by PaTum Sam
Starring Danh Monika
Son Sophea
Chan DaraThy
Distributed by SSB Production
Release dates
July 12, 2003
Running time
120 minutes
Country Cambodia
Language Khmer

Tum Teav (Khmer: ទុំទាវ) is a 2003 Romance-tragedy Cambodian film portrays the tragedy of the star-crossed lovers Tum and Teav. The film inspired a love story which has been told throughout Cambodia since the 19th century, revived a Khmer proverb states that The Cake is never bigger than the Basket. Literally, daughters (cake) were thought not to be able to find a good family without the help of their mothers (basket). This 2003 remake of the classic story played to packed theatres in Phnom Penh and has been credited with helping fuel the revival of the long defunct Cambodian Cinema industry.[1]


The film's tangline atypically state in a very long sentence which phraselly begin an account of Sanskrit language translation. The source comes from the last paragraphe that the original writer had used to sum up the story's main premise at the end of conclusion. Accompanied by a few ancient alphabet and word, that sentence reveal a variety of educational tone for its popular traditional love story subject matter:

This sin of love! The blood wash in tears!
True love! Life sacrific in braveness against old odds
The uncomparable enormous power it accomplish
Thus, the wealth or nobility or honor still become the loser


The film starts with Tum,a talented novice monk,with his friends,Pich,are going to a village to sing a classic song. Meanwhile Teav, the daughter of rich woman in a village, hears some news about a handsome monk with the beautiful voice from her waitress. So she offers her mother,Pai,to invite him to sing for her. As Tum sings along in Teav's house, they, immediately, fall in love from the first sight. It is reciprocated and Teav offered Tum some betel nut and a blanket as evidence of the feelings she had for Tum and prays to Buddha that the young monk will be with her for eternity.[2] Tum is very please to accept the offers, to see she feels the same way he does.After That Tum can't control himself to stop thinking about Teav.The feeling grow stronger and eventually he persuade Pich to quit the monkhood. Both of them then go to the chief monk and tell their intention.It is fine for Pich to leave but The chief of monks cam foresee that Tum would have the bad luck if he quit being a monk .To his love for Teav, he listens nothing to The chief of monks's advice so he decide to quit the monkhood by himself in the forest . As himself is now not the monk, he initially spends some time in Teav’s home despite her being ‘in the shade’ (a period of a few weeks when the daughter is supposedly secluded from males and taught how to behave virtuously), and wastes no time in abusing the mother’s hospitality by sleeping with her daughter.Then Tum's good reputation of his voice,was heard by the King, he invite to the royal palace to sing for the King.For the price, The King gives Tum as a specialist Singer in the palace. there and then,Teav's mother knew everything of Tum and Tum, she is unaware of this event and has alternative plans, intending to marry her daughter off to the governor’s son,then she dropped the idea when her daughter was chosen to be with the king, but resurrected it as soon as she learned that her employment at the court wasn’t leading anywhere, when Tum and Teav are married with the support of the king because of their true love.So Pai feigns illness as a ruse to lure Teav to her village whereupon she tries to coerce her into taking part in the wedding ceremony.When Tum receives a news from his Friend, Pich about Teav's wedding.He tell it to the King and turns up with an edict from the king to stop the ceremony, but on arrival instead of presenting the order, he gets drunk, announces he is Teav’s husband and kisses her in public; his behaviour make everyone Especially The governor's son who going to become Teav's husband get angry,then they take Tum to kill under the banyan tree. Once Teav hears that Tum has died, she runs out from the wedding and finds Tum's body beneath a banyan tree. Teav prays that she will meet Tum in every life she lives and commits suicide. Only after that does the governor discover the king’s letter. This film finishes with the king exacting rather extreme punishment – slaughtering every family member (including infants) remotely connected to the deception and the murder of Tum, making hereditary slaves of the entire village and exacting crippling extra taxes from a wider area in perpetuity.



Tum and Teav's story is originally based on the poem written by the Venerable Botumthera Som, but it was popularized by writer George Chigas and has been a compulsory part of the Cambodian secondary national curriculum since the 1950s. In fact, the earliest manuscript was done by the nineteenth-century court's poet, Santhor Mok but then found in a bad condition. This lead Botumthera som who was a monk and a poet, tried to recover the story by adding his own idea. There's been several debates for local scholar to anlaysis the official author to this famous story.[3]

Time period[edit]

As with any oral tradition, pinning down the origins of the story is an elusive task. The story is believed to have originated in the 17th or 18th century and is set in Kampong Cham around a century earlier. However in some versions the king in question is purported to be the Rea-mea who reigned in the mid-17th century, coming to the throne through an act of regicide and subsequently converting to Islam. The most popular time period for the story is known as Lovek era, a former capital where King Naresuan of Siam had intruded and looted to the ground during 1594. The story setting also deal with some real places such as Tbuong Kmoum District, Krouch Chhmar District and Kampong Chhnang Province.

Similarity to foreign folklore[edit]

The story had been viewed to resemble William Shakespeare's famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet and was deemed as a Khmer version. The main similarity has got to be its melodramatic ending, but what the two stories strongly share in commom is the role of family participation which bonds a contention for the final dramatic and sad premise. Compared to the dispute of Montague and Capulet which influence between their children matters, there are no accounts of the male protagonist's parent to be mention in the Khmer version. It is further interesting to note that the two epics additionally confronted a same fate by inspired to the play form during their days. While Romeo and Juliet ranks as one of Shakespeare's most-performed plays, Tum Teav had developed by Pich Tum Kravel into Yike, a Khmer form of theatre which become the most popular play in the Yike repertoire.[4] To the same case, Tum Teav also become a sort of Cambodian Tristan and Iseult, their narrative poem and death conclusion prove the claims.

Historical inaccuracies[edit]

  • In a part when Tum was singing in Teav's house, Teav impatiently leave her room for Tum confrontation contrast with original Khmer tradition at that period to kept away their daughter from male sight under guardance.
  • During lovek period, notable class people surround the palace likely to used some technique to write, unlike what feature in the film that Tum used Chicken feather to write his poem.
  • There is a false scene took place around Teav's wedding with governor son which tells that Tum try to meet Teav through the front door. It opposite to the truth which record that Tum actually encounter promise with Teav through the backdoor and at least in secret.


This film is the first Khmer film ever to be released in more than 4 theatres in Cambodia including the biggest theatre in Cambodia. It opened with full audiences per theatre. The film has subtitles for foreign audience members. This film dropped after its release in more than four months (the longest release time film in Cambodia's history but now it is The Crocodile); the film was released again in December of the same year. This film is a successful film in Cambodia because of its positive gross in Khmer's box office.

Book release[edit]

A 2005 book of Tum Teav was released as a monograph containing the author’s translation of the Venerable Botumthera Som’s version. It also examines the controversy over the poem’s authorship and its interpretation by literary scholars and performers in terms of Buddhism and traditional codes of conduct, abuse of power, and notions of justice.


A Khmer proverb states that The cake is never bigger than the basket. Nowadays, most Khmer families document it in the cultural education, so that people don't repeat the mistake that Teav's mother made. That is, love is truly based on each individual, not on the wishes of parents alone.[5]

See also[edit]

Tum Teav


  1. ^ Cambodia determined to revive film industry, Xinhua News Agency, Phnom Penh, February 25, 2004 [1]
  2. ^ http://www.siewphewyeung.org.kh/?page_id=25
  3. ^ Anne Ruth Hansen, Judy LedgerwoodAt the edge of the forest, p.73 song of the eadge of Democratic cambodia"
  4. ^ Yike, For a Renewal of Theatre in Cambodia, Thursday, 03 September 2009
  5. ^ Tum Teav, khmer.org, Phnom Penh, November 13, 2008

External links[edit]