|Saturday, 14-Sep-2013 12:00
MALAYSIAN CINEMA IN A BOTTLE
Film stars and directors, heroes and heroines, villains and mentors, romance and comedy, drama and tragedy, thrillers and action - these are the stuff that movies are made of. And they have been entertaining us for almost 120 years ever since the first film was screened in Paris in 1895. But long before cinema, entertainment existed in many other forms. Chief among them were the stories told by the oral storyteller. This, then, developed into the structured performances of theatre, and finally culminated in the youngest and the most exciting – and mysterious - of the arts: cinema.
The beginnings of Malay Cinema in the 1930s saw actors from bangsawan (Malay opera), being cast as heroes and heroines. Introduced to the new medium, audiences, however, saw the familiar faces of actors and the well-known stories of bangsawan with their recurring themes of family, romance and royalty, and replete with the same song-and-dance sequences. The link with the historical and cultural past was thus maintained and so the arrival of cinema was not a cultural shock for the locals.
With the influx of foreign films into the country at the beginning of the 20th century, Chinese entrepreneurs began to see the potential of entertainment and soon set up amusement parks that catered initially to the working class. A few films were made in the late 1930s but it was only after the Second World War that film production began in earnest.
The early films were a motley collection of tearjerkers, melodrama, horror, comedy and romance that were treated in a classical manner with most of them initially being in the style of the bangsawan performances that were exceedingly popular with the locals. Many film directors continued to maintain the melodramatic narratives and styles even well into the 1980s. But approaches grounded in reality had already begun to emerge in the early 1950s when some Malay film directors like the legendary P. Ramlee, Hussein Haniff and M. Amin began to helm productions that moved in tandem with the mainstream melodramas and tearjerkers.
A parallel movement was again seen when the First New Wave of alternative filmmakers appeared on the scene in the early 1980s who worked alongside the mainstream filmmakers. This group brought to the screen stories and a style that had never been seen before. They brought serious subjects and issues of a post-Independent Malaysia that was faced with new problems and new challenges. And with the Second New Wave of (digital) filmmakers beginning in the late 1990s, Malaysian cinema became even more colourful. New ground was broken and ‘The Little Cinema of Malaysia’ was born.
The beginning of the millennium also saw a major shift in Malaysian cinema. Films began to be made not only in Malay, the lingua franca of the country but also in three of the major languages of the country – English, Tamil and Chinese. Many of the films produced became truly ‘Malaysian’ in look and feel, i.e., featuring stories, themes and situations that spoke of the problems and issues of not only the Malays but also of the Chinese and Indians. The ‘bottle’ that had once contained only one kind of content, now brought forth a colourful collection of stories and subjects that reflected the diverse, vibrant and evolving nature of Malaysian society with all its quirks and idiosyncracies.
1983 - BEST IDEA - Drug Abuse live action filmlet (Sri Angkasa Award – RTM)
1985 - BEST FILM TRAILER – Fit Malaysia (Sri Angkasa Award – RTM)
1989 - JURY AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY – The Cane
(Asia-Pacific Film Festival, Jakarta)
1990 - JURY AWARD: BEST VISUAL EFFECTS FOR A FEATURE FILM:
Mat Gelap (Malaysia Film Festival)
1995 - AHLI MANGKU NEGARA (AMN) – Federal Government award
2000 - ANIMATION VETERAN - Cartoonists’ Association of Malaysia
2009 - CONTRIBUTION TO THE ANIMATION INDUSTRY Award – Multimedia
Development Corporation in conjunction with the Kre8tif Awards
2011 - ANIMATION VETERAN – Animation Society of Malaysia.
2011 - ASIAN ANIMATION PIONEER – Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
2012 - SPECIAL AWARD (Father of Malaysian Animation)-at the You, PM and Cartoons
Exhibition, Central Market, 24 June organised by Consortium CAW.
2013 - ANIMATION ICON OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES – 25 April, Selayang
Title: MALAYSIAN CINEMA IN A BOTTLE
Author: HASSAN MUTHALIB
New Pb 620 pp.
Subjects: film, social aspects
Publisher: Merpati Jingga
First Published: 2013
Price Starting at: RM55.00*
*excluding postage charges
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