Monday, December 12, 2005

Martyn See's Singapore Rebel: A Review

Today I finally had an opportunity to sit down and watch Martyn See's Singapore Rebel (you can visit his blog here). I find that overall it was a well produced documentary, which provided information that is usually unavailable to the general public, Singaporean or otherwise.

I do have a few things to comment about the short film though (note: this is about the documetary and the way it was done, not neccessarily about the politics). The introduction voice did not seem to fit the documetary well. It sounded too comical, and too whimsical; it did not create the proper mood for the viewer (namely me). Otherwise I think with a more sombre voice the intro is great.

I am especially interested in the use of the family several times throughout the 26 minute film. It is interesting to bring in the family and try to humanise the person that is so often demonised in the Singapore media. However I feel that the family is used too much in the film. It would have been nice to see Dr Chee going around talking to ordinary Singaporeans or on a walkabout (like the ones that WP and NSP do every now and then), to see the political animal at work.

My biggest problem with the film is that it is uncritical of its subject. I would have liked some hard questions answered. Like his tussle with Chiam See Tong for SDP leadership, and why he courts foreign political organisations more than forging local alliances. I would think a fair and balanced documentary would have helped me understand Dr Chee as a politician better. From my view point the documentary is the exactly like the Straits Times' PAP coverage, just slanted towards Dr Chee.

I did enjoy the film immensely, it's just that as a historian and assessing the the film as a primary document, I would have wanted more. Perhaps I am too demanding as a researcher or perhaps I am biased due to my disagreement with Dr Chee's proposals (essentially a more socialist state with welfare, higher taxes and a higher minimum wage), but throughout the film there was a nagging voice in my head.

Overall I would give the short film a 3 out of 5.


At 9:06 PM, Blogger Molly Meek said...

I actually liked the voiceover. Or at least that bit when it turns into a heinous laughter. Compare it to the innocent-sounding non-partisan decumentaries of MediaCorp and it might seem as though the voice, as it is, has a purpose.

*Erm...Chee wants a "higher" minimum wage? But there isn't one in the first place...

At 10:48 PM, Blogger The Void Deck said...

The evil laughter bit was hilarious and the start of the film was quite entertaining actually but the MTV novelty began to wane as the minutes passed. The production of the film was admirably indie guerilla style, befitting the theme of the short film. But on the content and its messages, it was gorilla style. Brutish and dumb. The film was as biased as those CNA ra-ra on the MIW and despite its pretence to be objective, it is as guilty of one-sidedness as the local media.

Vox - You brought up an interesting point on the questions. Yeah, those questions should have been addressed. Looking at the issues raised and Sporeans' familiarity with them, the CSJ 101 content of the film seemed more geared towards an international, rather than local, audience. Hmmmmm

Molly - Intending to make your own rebel rebel film too? Wink wink. On flu and the culling of poor poor pwetty puddy cats as a metaphor?

At 1:07 AM, Blogger Vox Leo said...

Exactly. I'm all for no minimum wage. Long story on why i believe that. It has to do with the economic concepts of a price floor.


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