Saturday, 7 September 2013

Tanda Putera – A movie that certainly won’t create racial hatred and here is why




History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon - Napoleon Bonaparte

Its debut on the silver screen was delayed a few times. During the election, it was the talk of the campaign. Politicians claimed that the movie will spur racial hatred while others claim it is the government’s propaganda. Some historians questioned the truth about the May 13 incident. Still photos from the movie before editing were distributed and mocked on social media. The movie’s director hit back, asking for critics to watch the movie before giving their comment. Well, that was all about Tanda Putera, the most controversial movie of recent time.


The movie would not have created the excitement in me to watch it had it not for all the publicity that it created, despite the call to boycott it. To start with, I invited my driver, Azman, to go for the movie with me. The reason being so is because Azman has been through May 13 and he is of different race; and I wanted to get his view. I invited him rather than others because I know his view will be neutral for he is apolitical and a trustworthy man who speaks his mind.

After an hour and 45 minutes in the cinema, we came out of the cinema asking each other, what is the actual theme of the movie? Is it about May 13, about the communist threat, about Tun Dr Ismail or to glorify Tun Razak or actually DAP bashing movie? To us, it seems like a lousy unconnected mixture of all above. Is it a documentary, a historical re-creation or creative fictional play? We were left confused. At the end, we settled for creative fictional play with some historical similarities that cannot be taken as fact.
It is stated that the main objective of the movie is to honour and glorify the true achievements of the late Tun Razak. However, we do not think the movie achieved its objective. Of course we do feel sad at the scenes showing the last days of Tun Razak in London.
Or if the movie is to portray that the Chinese are the instigators of the riot, I do not think it shows so. However, it is bias on the director’s side to link DAP and the communists together and portrayed as if the both act together to start the riot and subsequent killings of security personnel.
And that the movie will create racial hatred as claimed by certain politicians, both Azman and I do not think so too. We were lost after watching the movie, not knowing what the director want us to know about the whole film. We walked out of the theatre laughing at the shoddy way it was made and the director disability to translate historical interpretation into production, rather than with an urge of feelings that some scores need to be settled with another race.
Therefore, despite the call for to boycott the movie, I would suggest that fellow Malaysians go to the cinema to watch the movie and access it on our own. It is better to watch it with our own eyes rather than to listen to how the politicians choose to portray it to us, depending on which side of the divide they are from. 

History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon, as said by Napoleon but the Malaysians will find it hard to agree upon the history of May 13. 

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