Saturday, November 03, 2007

Eine Liebe im Zeichen des Drachen

Love Under the Sign of the Dragon

It's the annual German Film Festival. I've booked tickets to watch two films, one of which is this which I went to watch tonight.

erm... This is one of the very few times I really don't know what to say after watching a film. It's so weird. I can't say if I liked it or hate it because it's just so weird kind of a feeling that I can't even use words to describe it. It's a German film, but it cooperated with Oak 3 Films, and was shot almost entirely in Singapore, and Wong Li Lin played the female lead character but it was still essentially a German film.

When reading the module Singapore Film some semesters ago, we learnt about the differences of a local film and a locally shot film. And Love Under the Sign of the Dragon possess all the characteristics of a locally shot film but is not a local film at all. The target audience is definitely German. So much so that the "Singapore" portrayed in the film is so un-Singapore like that quite a few scenes brought about much giggles among the audience even those there was quite an even mix of locals and Germans in the theatre.

The first shot of "Singapore" in the film was a scene of a dragon boat race. It was shot in such a way that it seemed like dragon boating is a weekly affair like thingie made for bettings not unlike horse racing. That was when the first -_-" came about, and trust me, things got worse from there. The usual from-airport-to-the-hotel scene was even more ridiculous. The taxi brought the expat across Chinatown, soaking up in the exotic setting of Asia. Rule Number 1, from the airport to the hotel would not bring you to Chinatown, unless it's Hotel 81 which of course is not the choice of abode for a rich expat.

But, he didn't check into a hotel! His abode was a colonial bungalow, complete with the garden, lake, and (!) a macik. Even, the last time I saw maciks as housekeepers was probably from the 1920s, and this is supposedly in 2007. My gosh... Singapore was portrayed as either the city centre, a la Raffles Place, Shenton Way, Tanjong Pagar area, or Chinatown. The Chinatown scene almost brought Singapore back to the days of the 1960s. It's like a weird time warp. We start of with the expat's colonial bungalow of the 1920s, then we head to Li Lin's residence in Chinatown akin to 1960s Singapore, and they get dressed to go for work in Raffles Place 2007. Totally weird...

The weirdest part came when they went surveying rice fields. I can tell you there are no rice fields in Singapore at all. But they still managed to get something shot in the film. They went to Bukit Gombak Xiao Guilin, then went to some swampy area complete with a 1940s style Kampong with a man washing himself in the swamp somemore. It was absolutely weird. Heck, it was worse than weird. It made me rethink if I were in Singapore or stuck in some time warp or something just as mind boggling.

Then came the hospital scenes, wanna guess which hospital they chose as representative of Singapore hospitals?
Clue: It's the hospital I've been visiting because of my lump. It's the hospital where travelling within the hospital grounds is such a hassle during raining periods that the hospital has got porters and it's own umbrellas. It's the hospital with this huge and luscious garden which I have to cut across when I go from the bus stop into the lobby.

It's Alexandran Hospital. For an expat to work in a hospital, I'd have expected some private hospital or something, but I guess Alexandra Hospital was chosen because of it's greenery. It's so weird, this whole film was all green and leafy and luscious that it seemed just out of a postcard of Garden City Singapore.

The improbable but very intriguing plot did nothing to make me decide if I really liked it or totally hate it. The plot was so interesting and captivating that it was so unrealistic especially in the context of Singapore that I didn't know if this was a good film or a bad one. The cliched scenes did nothing to help us decide but it did brought even more -_-" and giggles among the audience.

It was fun spotting all the local actors and actresses who had bit parts in the film. Wong Lilin had a lead role, but there were little roles filled by Zhu Houren, Zheng Peipei, Ezann Lee, and some other people you'd probably recognise. But the dubbing was terrible. This was a German film, so everything was in German, even the Chinese spoke German among themselves, so everyone was dubbed in German. It was very unnatural, especially Zhu Houren's. I'm being fed Zhu Houren on national TV with the 9pm show and reruns of Mi Li Ye and Zao An Lao Shi, so Zhu Houren's manly voice is like ringing at the back of my head, then the dubbing gave him is high pitch voice which was so weird.

Granted, I can't say that this is a bad movie because I know deep down that had this been set in Shanghai or Beijing, I'd have found it much much enjoyable to watch. But because of al the cringe-worthy moments whenever a weird interpretation of Singapore is shown on screen, I just think that this is terrible.

I'll be looking forward to the next film I'll be watching in this year's film festival. Wo ist Fred? featuring Til Schweiger my much loved German actor. Heard that tickets for that is already sold out so too bad to you folks. Can't wait to hear more German~ Despite not speaking or hearing German since the end of last semester, after about 5 seconds into the film, I picked up all the forgotten German again. Even if it hadn't been subtitled, I think I would still have been able to understand. Not bad not bad...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've worked on this set for 2 days for free in Oak 3 film. Read the script and left after finding the script totally one sided and prejudice against a particular minority race with colonial aesthetics seemingly trying to out par the British colonial expatriates of the early 20th century even though the film was suppose to be set in 2007!