Genre: CG Animation
Director: Phil Mitchell
Cast (Voices): Celine Rosa Tan, Lim Kay Siu,
Neo Swee Lin, Jason Chan, Eunice Olsen, Jamie Meldrum, Jamie
Tan, Brad Bowyer, Denise Tan, Andrew Lua
RunTime: 1 hr 20 mins
Released By: Media Development Authority, MediaCorp
Raintree Pictures, Infinite Frameworks, Scorpio East Pictures
and Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: http://www.singtothedawn.com/
Opening Day: 30 October 2008
Based on the award-winning novel by Minfong Ho, Sing to the
Dawn is the coming-of-age story of a girl fighting for her
right to basic education and making true her dreams. Dawan
is an average teenage girl growing up in a small Southeast
Asian village. But she has bigger dreams and wants more than
her small town and traditional way of life can offer. One
day everything is turned upside down when her family gets
the news that they must pay new taxes or they will lose their
home. The entire village is at risk.
Dawan's father, has a solution. He insists that Dawan tutor
her brother Kai so that he can win an upcoming scholarship.
Dawan herself will be engaged to Benz, the brutish son of
the village landlord, Pairote. Pairote's family money would
surely protect her, but the idea of marrying Benz is more
than she can accept.
decides that her only option is to win the scholarship herself
which will enable her to study in the big city. She succeeds
but instead of gaining recognition and respect, her actions
only cause more strife for her family. Alone and distraught,
Dawan seems to have nowhere to turn when Old Wichien, the
village fool and crazy puppeteer, reveals a secret to her.
The Ancient Decree giving Pairote and his family ownership
of the land is a fake. An authentic decree hidden inside a
haunted temple states the land really belongs to the villagers.
She also discovers that Pairote has created a lie about the
new taxes in order to oust the villagers from their homes
where he plans to build a casino.
must selflessly act to find this decree and stop Pairote and
his henchman from knocking down the village, as her father
and friends stall the inevitable destruction.
the aid of some clever animals and the reluctant help of Kai,
Dawan will overcome dangerous obstacles and the traditional
limits placed upon her. She saves the village and at the same
time, receives her father's consent to study in the big city,
making true her dreams.
the quest to produce Singapore’s very own animated movies,
our people have come up with two miserable attempts, Zodiac
and Legend of the Sea. Even with star voices coming from the
likes of Fann Wong and JJ Lin the two movies failed to take
our local box office by storm, neither were they successful
aesthetically and story-wise. And now, Raintree Pictures has
attempted to step up to the plate and offer Sing to the Dawn.
to its predecessors, Sing to the Dawn has the most potential
to be a hit. It was after all, a secondary school literature
text for a good number of years, its writer has won acclaim
and it has been successfully translated onto the stage in
the form of both a play and a musical. So, what can go wrong
yes? In this case, everything.
the Dawn is the tale of Dawan, a young girl, growing up in
a South-east Asian village with her family. She is a strong-willed
individual, fighting for her right to study in the city much
to the chagrin of her very traditional father. At the same
time, her family and she must unite to face the village landlord,
Pairote, who has duped the villagers in believing his family
owns the land, in his quest to destroy the village in hopes
of building a casino.
summary is the same general idea that was featured in the
book but additions like Dawan’s father wanting her to
marry Pairote’s son and a band of talking animals very
much spoils the show. The idea to introduce the talking animals
I believe was an attempt to make the story a bit more accessible
to children. This only adds to the confusion that I went through
for a good 80 minutes.
into the 80 minute runtime, Sing to the Dawn becomes paper
thin. Even Dawan’s quest to overcome the sexism she
encounters from her father and the rest of the village becomes
more of a passing thing rather than the focus of the story.
The movie is a messy affair considering the characters themselves
are confused. The story may be set in South-East Asia but
the accents were terrible, they just were not consistent with
the accents galore, there were excellent voices, especially
so in the case of Celine Rosa Tan who voiced Dawan. Her rendition
of the theme song is probably the best of the lot. There were
six original musical numbers in this movie but probably only
one that leaves a lasting impression. The rest unfortunately
are forgettable and disappointing.
the animation may have taken months to complete, the end result
is still far from satisfying. The characters are stocky, human
characters do not move naturally and rendering for characters
like the sun bear makes it look more like a boar than a bear.
All these combined with several unnecessary scenes like Kai’s
kung fu antics makes this feel like a low-budget attempt at
to the Dawn should be an okay movie for the children but in
general, it is not really that big a step forward for our
local animation scene. It appears that a bigger leap forward
is needed if Singapore wants to match its counterparts overseas.
This movie ends up being one riddled with could-haves making
the overall experience quite the disappointment.
Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri
(A lackadaisical attempt on the overall, more Sing to the
Yawn than anything else)