Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa the Movie

A couple of weeks ago I saw a trailer of the coming Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa movie produced by KRU Studios. Being one of the very small majority who actually read the Hikayat when I was in my teens and as a history buff I was of course elated that piece of local history (and legend) is being made into a movie.

Until I saw the part they portrayed the Romans (or Rum as in the annals). I could already screamed at that moment! They actually portrayed the Romans (or Rhomaioi as the Greeks called themselves then) like something that came out from the comics; bright brass cuirass, Trojan headress and blue-eyed blonds. Note to costume director, the Romans seldom wear brass cuirasses except if you are a noble or higher ranked. Mostly wear chain-mail over tunic or a leather cuirass and are usually armed with the throwning spear septum and short sword gladius. In fact towards the end of the Western Roman Empire, much of their army consisted of Germanic "barbarians" like the Goths.

I really don't know which joker they hired as a history/literary consultant, but Rum actually referred to the area of what was the Byzantium or Eastern Roman Empire and so was more Greek than Latin. Rum was also what the Seljuk Turks called their domain when they conquered the Anatolian Plains from the Byzantines.

Also by the time the Hikayat was written the Western Roman Empire has fallen for over 600 years.

I am very disappointed to also see Mano Maniam portraying as what seems to be an Indian trader with a stereotypical Indian accent . To see one of Malaysia's finest actors reduced to such a role is heart breaking.

This shows that the jokers at KRU Studios are not serious at all in bringing a local epic to the silver screen. While I am aware that the Hikayat is a mix of the historical and fanciful, a cursory Wikipedia search will yield much information.

Do they even know that Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa is also known as Sejarah Kedah?

I cannot speak for others but to see a Thai movie (Queens of Langkasuka) that chose to portray the early Malay kingdoms (in this case Pattani) closer historically is quite sobering. Why can foreigners to tell our stories and history in an unbiased way and closer to the fact?

Will I watch it? Possibly. I may not like it. But I always make it a point to support local productions whenever I can.

End of Rant....

2 comments:

rizal said...

it has been said earlier in the development of the movie, the script was not equally to the history, they change the script more than 7 times. its no more original. they want to make new entertainment instead truly follow the epic instead giving malaysian new tecnology in movie production with high tech camera shoot which wasnt even in malaysia before. too many people say things without learn the subjects throughly indeed understand what was the objective. this is one step to new modern screening for malaysian. go and see the making in tonton.com.my, listen what has been said ..

msian_tux_lover said...

Although I am happy to see a movie being made on the Hikayat, I am somewhat confused by the whole rationale of "making it more entertaining". Why not put in Hobbits, Wraiths, Elves and Trolls as well? After all those are more common to our younger generation than the universe of the Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. I am uninterested win what they have to say. By the way have you by any chance read Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa? I have. And from what I see from the trailer, the book was far more entertaining.