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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Wed 10 May 2006

The Last Communist

Category : movies

I caught The Last Communist by Amir Muhammud at the Singapore Film Festival and enjoyed it very much.

It is now showing at The Cathay at these dates and showtimes:

  • Thu 11 May - 5:20pm
  • Fri 12 May - 11:35am 5:20pm
  • Sat 13 May - 11:35am 5:20pm
  • Sun 14 May - 11:35am 5:20pm
  • Mon 15 May - 5:20pm
  • Tue 16 May - 5:20pm
  • Wed 17 May - 5:20pm

Get your tickets at: tickets.cathay.com.sg

It's "loosely based on Chin Peng's life", and traces it through the many poorly known places he grew up in. These are obscure places that I happened to have visited on the trail of zoology in tthe early 90's so I enjoyed revisiting these places very much. The film-maker is a city boy from KL, and this road trip is a journey of discovery that reveals a charming aspect of Malaysia and a very different pace of life, particularly evident in the interview with a plantation worker.

As he travels and weave a story, the footage is subtitled with notes of significant events in Chin Peng's life. Some scenes mirror the text in some way, but mostly the film features towns that time forgot, and inteviews with the ordinary people they met along the way that history forgets. The Petai Boys, plantation workers and the Hokkien-speaking, mahjong-playing Indian Muslim; I loved the lot.

In the last 15 minutes of his 90 minute documentary, he features one of the peace villages in the south of Thailand, close to the Malaysian border. Finally it seems, we see some real-life communists although we are resigned to the fact that we will never see Chin Peng. But the communists we see are leading a restful life off retirement. Their longing for their Malaysian homeland, however, is barely concealed and they talk of travel applications that were returned, unread. The communist seem to be somewhat sympathetic figures, but Amir is not ignorant about the details of history. WhIle he confessed that the idea appears to be a beautiful one, our human fraility will ultimately deprive us the utopia it promises.

The film earned a ban in Malaysia, despite being initially passed without cuts and comments that it might actually be a bit boring. The ban, apparently at the behest of Berita Harian, is being screened once again in the famously politically stifled Singapore. Amir discusses the possible reasons in "Why is Lelaki Komunis Terakhir banned in Malaysia?" By Amir Muhammad. Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist), 09 May 2006.

Its such a pity because Amir Muhammad discovers a Malaysia that few city folk, Malaysian or Singaporean alike will see.

Join him for a peek!

Thanks to Anand Sundarambalan for forwarding me the sfs-forum message.

Posted at 3:36PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .