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Raphaël Millet
160 Pages
Publisher: Editions Didier Millet (2006)
ISBN: 981415542X
Price: S$36.75 (Available in Borders)
Links: www.marshallcavendish.com/genref




Mee Pok Man, Money Not Enough, Be with Me and Singapore Dreaming. Most Singaporeans would be able to point out that they are made in Singapore movies and seemly the first batch of Singapore movies that gave “birth” to the Singapore Film Industry.

But if you ever wonder those movies were the actual pioneer batch of Singapore movies, take a look at Singapore Cinema by Raphael Millet and you will discover that this little red dot has it’s own uniquely rich Singapore Cinema history to share.

Covering from the beginning of Singapore Cinema where makeshift “theatre” comprising of only tents to the latest films offerings of 2006. Pretty much everything you want to know about Singapore Cinema (or didn’t even know) is here in this book.

It recounts the struggles of the pioneers of our local film distributors, Shaw, Cathay and Eng Wah in the 30s to 40s era. Businesses were just as competitive as it’s is now. Barrier to entry was high and these pioneers had to use their ingenuity to gain entry to this business. Finding their foothold, it also gave birth to the local Chinese and Malay films production that we probably never even heard of.

But sadly, when our country gain it’s independence, factors like the introduction of Television created certain doom for local film production and giving ways to foreign films to establish a strong grip in Singapore Cinema. Eventually Singapore films died of a slow and quiet death in the late 70s.

The revival in recent years, which most of us had witness began a new era for Singapore film “industry”. This book covers some of the key persons that played a part in rejuvenating the once declared “dead” industry of Singapore. Singapore Cinema tracks a certain selected group of mavericks that had been largely identified as those behind the revival. From the commercial successful Jack Neo to those with more art house appeal such as Royston Tan, Eric Khoo and a few others who had left their mark in the Singapore Cinema were all mention in this comprehensive book.

Singapore Cinema is definitely informative and easy to read. It’s filled with photographs of yesteryears that bring back a certain sense of nostalgia and for folks like me who is too young to experience what went on before, these photos present a portal to the past that I had no idea of. This book not only reaffirms my faith in the current local films but interest in what had been done before.
Singapore Cinema is simply one of the best book about the Singapore film industry


“Locally made cinema should not fear being too locally rooted. Many cinemas elsewhere in the world have been successful by being truly themselves, and having a strong identity. Attempts at artificial blends so as to be internationally marketable have been, and are still, even in a globalised world, failures.

No one wants to see a Spanish movie that does not look Spanish. No one likes a Japanese film trying to look Hollywoodian. Better to watch a real Hollywood production. And, whatever one may think, Hollywood is very American, and has never given up on its Americanness.

And, that is precisely why we like it. As for Singapore cinema, the more Singaporean it is, the better, I guess… ”


Like the Singapore Tourism motto, Singapore Cinema has it’s uniquely history and True Blue Movie Buff should get this book or at least read it once to appreciate the journey it took. It’s embarrassing if you have a wealth of knowledge on movies around the world except your own backyard.


Filmography: Extensive coverage of all the feature films that produced in Singapore and even a listing of foreign movies that were entirely or partly shot in Singapore or in reference to Singapore. Sorted out in the year that the film was produced, the listing includes the runtime, names of the production crew and some films even come with a brief synopsis.

Accessibility: an informative section on how to get access to the Shaw and Cathay’s movies from the 1940s to late 1970s period.

Review by Richard Lim Jr



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This review is made possible with the kind support from BORDERS


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