18 Sep 2004
Puteri Gunung Ledang.
Finally, I watched it. Midvalley. Can't believe KTM stops right beside it, it's even more convenient to go there now compared to KLCC. Been thinking about watching since the previews appear in August, but it took me this long because I had to practically make an appointment with a super busy superboy to watch with. Kidding on the superboy, not kidding on the super busy.
It was...quite good. Actually, for a local production, very good. The pace is slow, the entire movie took 180 minutes, I think. The movie started with a maze, whispers of "Jika kanda tidak pulang...dinda akan menyusul...." and then some silat silat scene. I knew the school-version of this legend like the back of my hand, so I kept wondering if this movie will stay true to the story or is it some fancy-smancy version of (sadly) modified movies we see from the west *cough Harry Potter cough King Arthur cough Around the World in 80 Days cough*. Guess not. Phew!
I guess the original stories never stated that the Puteri is a Javanese lass from the kingdom of Majapahit. I don't even recall learning about Demak in History, but don't mind me, my History isn't all that. But I guess it fits the storyline, they made a clear point of the differences of a Hindu kingdom and Muslim land in Majapahit and Melaka respectively. The costumes are distinctly different, beautiful and...I have a thing for period costumes. Of ANY culture. Don't mind me. The decors are kind of painful, don't you think? Especially Puteri's earpieces..that's metal, yo! I guess because the Puteri's supposed to have magical powers, it's also more fitting to put her as from exotic, mystical and mysterious lands.
What's really beautiful about this movie is the language. I've always known Malay as one of the most indah languages I know, but this beats everything I've read and learnt. The pantun, syair the bunga-bungaan, the hidden meanings, whether tersurat or tersirat, the inverted sentences, even the Javanese language. I would watch the movie again, and again, AND again, even if it's just to hear the beautiful phrases and sentences, and just for this one reason only. Even then, I'm grateful for the English subtitles; I admit I don't actually understand 100% of the words spoken, especially the Javanese, and the song lyrics. But the way they use words like bisa, beda, ijin, elok, tutup instead of beza, izin, baik, tidak...I think I wanna be a scholar in the language!
Even the Javanese Bendahara spoke in the whining, moaning way like in our Sastera textbooks, only I never knew those hai... and aduhai...wahai.... was used THAT way. The Javanese dance move, the way the Puteri curve her fingers and position her hands, the way she kick her train (uh, they do that in Majapahit, too? Oh-kay...) and the effects on the floor of the istana when they place the leaves of the Puteri's requests on the roof was genius. She proved the Sultan to be a lusty, silly man. Hmm. Yeah, that's what I know Sultan Mahmud Shah to be. And sadly, if I recall correctly, Raja Ahmad will die under his father's orders and Mahmud's two younger sons will go on to open Perak and Johor empire. Tun Teja's story I'm also familiar with, don't blame her for the open contempt (sp?) for the Sultan, afterall, he murdered her entire family to get her. Also the part she plays as a voiceless, choiceless woman of the royal household, she have absolutely no say over whether Sultan want to marry another or not. It's just...accepted, redha dan nasib. And she went and look for Puteri? And they addressed both themselves as dinda and the other as kanda. What was it Tun Teja want? To warn Puteri? to see for herself the Puteri? To advise her? What?!
However, the last part when the Sultan put the curse on Puteri, the way she comments on him having daulat but misusing, it was misleading. I thought he said every dawn, whoever who sets eyes on the Puteri will die vomiting blood. But from her sobs and the sayings of "too late..." I think they meant from that particular dawn she watched sadly on the mountain peak onwards, whoever who sees her, no matter which time of the day is it, will die. How bitter the irony is, that Mahmud will be the last Sultan of Melaka but that she wishes that his reign will be supreme and absolute and his empire lasts to the end of time. I guess I can say this events are set circa year 1500s, cos Portugease conquered Melaka in 1511.
If there's nitpicking, I have three.
One, what's up with the ka-boom ka-boom of Hang Tuah battling it out with Gusti on the sea? I accept the keris-fight, even the jumping around, because of the mystical quality. But the fire and the explosions? Hello! It's way, WAY over the top.
Two, Puteri's speech of hak hamba untuk bebas bercinta, merdeka, hak sendiri, that's modern speech. That particular lines was just...wrong. It seemed out of place, at least, to me.
Three, Sultan Mahmud looked like a puny feather brain. Can't they cast someone who's...bulkier and look a little more dignified, you know, a Sultan, not a...puny...silly man. I know he's supposed to be foolish, but c'mon, he DID came from a pedigree of Sultans. The royal linage WOULD guarantee at least ...someone who looked fit to be Sultan, right? RIGHT?
Anyway, it's a really good movie. I can see why it's doing good in the Cannes (sp?) Film Festival. And the song! I love that part! The twisting and turning of the melody! The soundtracks on this movie used traditional musical instuments and modern percussion. Jun Hoe said he heard gamelan. I just know they play a lot of the small metal drum thingys that produce melody. But the music is amazing, too. The night sounds of roosters crowing, the crickets and the cacophony of the mountain habitats, the waterfall scenery, the fog over Mont Ledang, the sunrise and sunset, the beaches, the boats, ...my. They've put many many details and much much effort into this one. It just shows.
Okay, I'm done raving. They should pay me for advertising.
A visitor made this comment,
Heh. Boy, you almost took out on everything of the movie. Now what else am I supposed to write about? Hehe, yeah it does have it's flaws a little here and there. But overall it's still a good movie, definitely worth watching.