Monday, May 09, 2011

In Defence of Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa - The film by KRU Studios.

I thought the movie was awesome.

Why this entry then? Well, I have been hearing heavy criticism on the movie on so many issues, but the worst has to be this, criticism by those who DID NOT EVEN WATCH IT. They condemned the movie, yet they have not even seen it. This can only happen in my country. Sedihnya.

The first thing I did after watching the movie was to look up Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa on the internet. I wanted to know how the movie adaptation was different from the original manuscripts. Sadly then, it had only a short brief entry on the Wikipedia which wasn't helpful, I was frustrated, no one who had knowledge of this manuscript which is under the Akta Warisan Negara had shared any of its contents or discussions online. But this was during the early release of the film.

But yesterday after a heated debate on the film, I felt 'tak puas hati' and decided to look it up again. As of today, there is a new entry in Wikipedia and citing many other resources for information on the original manuscripts. Alhamdulillah, praise be to the person who was willing to share their knowledge with those who seek it.

Now, I urge those who condemn the movie on the basis of its storyline and research, please DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Before mouthing words of 'criticism' on other people's hardwork and research, I would suggest you do your own reading on the timeline, adaptation and discussions of the Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa manuscripts and even the Roman Empire timeline if you so wish to dispute.

In praise of KRU Studios whom I think are doing an excellent job, they got the people to wonder at the existence of these stories. Before the film came out, I bet most of us won't even bat an eyelash at the Hikayat. Most of us do not know of our own stories, stories of our people and that is what is so sad. We are more familiar with fairytales and superheroes in the mold of what the WEST have portrayed. We teach our children Nursery Rhymes and quiz them on the history of the Egyptians. But what about OUR story? Our history?

There are so many stories of our great lands of our great people that can be an inspiration for our future generations. And as stories often are, they are meant to be appreciated, adapted, enjoyed and even teach us a few things. Cerita Tauladan. Orang Asli Animal tales. We are so hungry for ideas yet we have plenty of untapped resources right in front of our eyes. It is whether we choose to seek those knowledge and embrace them or push them aside and choose the easy way, believe every word Google tells you.

They did not claim to be historically accurate in the movie. But then, tell me, what movie IS? And yet we enjoy them and even worship the grandeur of 300, Clash of the Titans and Alexander by the pure entertainment value that films often are. Heck, we even believe that Giant Robots will invade Earth. But adapt the Garuda into a menacing group of pirates instead of a giant talking bird? "Mana boleh tukar cerita hikayat!", came the response. Even historical documents were written by someone through his/her point of view, so whos to say they were telling us the truth?

If we continue with this attitude of ours to criticize and condemn the effort of our people in trying to do something different, something better, then we will never be able to go beyond expectations. If the government in Japan had told the animators of Gundam that they could not publish such a story because it is impossible to have that technology, than what else can we dream for? There are many ways in which fiction affects technology. A man had dreamed that one day we could go to space, I'm sure many thought he was crazy. Scientists, philosophers and thinkers dare to dream, dare to think of the impossible. It all starts with the imagination.

Movies, films are stories meant to entertain, give pleasure, inspire and move us. The film Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa did just that for me. Maybe it would for you too, or it wouldn't. But you should watch it first and judge it for yourself don't you think?

Here are the links that I would suggest you look into if you are interested in the story of Merong Mahawangsa.







p/s: And for those yang tak tahu... the KRU film actually followed quite close to the original Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa manuscripts. Yes, it was partly a story of an expedition from Rome to China to marry their prince and princess and Merong led the expedition until they were attacked by Garuda, to which they landed where Merong was made King and named the kerajaan Langkasuka which later on grew to Patani, Siam, Kedah and Perak. And this was a time before the coming of Islam which was 10 generations after that. The movie was set in 107 AD.


sakuralina said...

I Love ur entry!! and I love KRU!! >__<

Anonymous said...

Salam Irina.

Thanks for tagging TMP. Good to read yours.

I have no comment when it comes to this part

"Movies, films are stories meant to entertain, give pleasure, inspire and move us. The film Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa did just that for me. "

Anyway, at least what KRU did by presenting HMMW on film met it basic purpose - introducing the name of Merong Mahawangsa to the world which I can't deny.

All the best in your writing.