Princemark

There, proof that I can talk about Tanda Putera – by the simple logic that I have seen it.

What I liked:
– back then, Prime Ministers and their deputies had hot wives! Sure they may have looked forever young, but they make the second half of the movie much more pleasant
– we see how Ida Nerina can still act despite her fractured spine (making her wheelchair-bound)
– cinematography is generally good, with evenly-lit scenes
– bokeh, of the good kind
– scenes were shot on location – e.g. the Prime Minister’s Office (now Tun Hussein Onn Memorial), The Residency (where Tunku Abdul Rahman lived), the National Mausoleum (with that scene of Razak fretting that Ismail should be buried there). I don’t recognize Razak’s house, though…
– archived scenes of demolished places were used e.g. the original Subang International Airport
– Hussein Onn and Dr. Mahathir look accurate
– the period cars were brilliant on screen
– Malays aren’t depicted as innocent either, during the 13th May 1969 riots
– college kids are still freehair (not wearing headscarves) as it would be accurate for that time
– the movie was made with Tawfik, Dr. Ismail’s son consulting (interestingly, there was a play, which I missed out on)

What I didn’t like:
– Razif Hashim had a deep voice, moustache and glasses, like a Ashton Kutcher-ized version of Najib Razak. However, he played his brother, Johari Razak instead, and some other guy who didn’t have quite the same quality of moustache or Najib’s deep voice, played Najib instead.
– no Indians! Is Kara supposed to be one, since Kavitha Sidhu, who plays her, is Punjab?
– were lecturers allowed to have dyed hair back then? Or would there be a social stigma?
– the Shiok Trading signboard that burnt had an ugly modern font
– some very bad actors spoil it when there is generally good acting
– the CGI is quite awkward and bad (especially the scene where Razak challenges Johari to a race in a lake)
– the green color cast spills over in some green-screen scenes
– Razak and Ismail kept smiling smugly to themselves, as if they didn’t have a life-threatening condition each
– it is not at all explained that Neno (Tun Dr. Ismail’s wife) is in the hospital because “Ismail asked that his wife terminate her pregnancy“. Wait a minute, isn’t abortion legal in Malaysia only if it is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or threat of injury to her physical or mental health? Perhaps the law was different then.
– no Malay or Indian communists! They forgot Wahi Annuar, Abdullah C.D. (chairman of the Malayan Communist Party), Shamsiah Fakeh, R.G. Balan, and S.A. Ganapathy.
– the women among the FELDA settlers were all headscarf-wearing ladies (I do not know if they were, but given that back then, it was the rarity, I cast doubts on this scene)
– the movie gets a lot of incidences and locations correct (I believe), but it also adds in fiction. The director also calls it fiction. Why not just make it as accurate as possible, then put the disclaimer there? You’re going to get people confused.

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