Pulau Ubin Stories

Stories, old and new, about Pulau Ubin, Singapore

Friday, July 22, 2005

Moving Gods

**warning: spoilers**

Dreams of running and falling into a quarry. A taoist shrine dedicated to a german girl that is facing threat of development. An unquestioning caretaker of 40 years looking to move its patron diety to another location. Portrayal of stoic civil servants thinking only of costs and benefits. Numerous scenes and references of the supernatural at work. Juxtaposing the "newbies" and the "old school". Of swimming in quarries which we always warn people against. Taxi drivers that dreams of striking lottery. Most of all, a turtle named Leslie.

That could be the story of my life but this was actually of a fictitious movie based on a true event - Moving Gods.

Moving Gods still shots courtesy of XTREME Productions

In the director's words, there were a few issues that he sought to address in Moving Gods:

1. the question of blind faith
2. partly also inspired by a biblical text that the true God will disguise himself as a poor man and reward a man for his unconditional help.
3. the gods work in mysterious way theory or perhaps they really have a wicked sense of humour to get things done at the expense of clueless mortal beings.

Moving Gods still shots courtesy of XTREME Productions

There were also of course some other less thematic issues related to Ubin and to the German Girl Shrine that were addressed through the length of the movie. For those unfamiliar with the story of the German Girl, there was even a brief but informative historical summary in the middle of the film.

I definitely left the theatre wondering if the playwright Jen ever really had those dreams. Almost a week later, I find myself having dreams of his dreams. Many threads in the movie leaves one wondering such peculiarities as was there really an eccentric caretaker as depicted in the movie that Choon Hiong chanced upon while researching the German Girl years ago? Was the German Girl Shrine ever under threat of being obliterated since it now stands in the middle of barren development? Was there really a german girl or is it all a case of blind faith? How much of life on Ubin was accurately depicted amidst the fictitious quality of a story, yet "based on a true event"? How much of it is fiction and how much were facts?

Moving Gods still shots courtesy of XTREME Productions

Moving Gods is a movie by XTREME Productions and directed by Ho Choon Hiong who also previously did a documentary on the German Girl which we have now come to know as the Find German Girl project. Commissioned by Mediacorp's Art Central, Moving Gods is part of the stage to screen project, adapted from Lim Jen Erh's play of the same title. A free screening was held on Monday, 18 July 2005 at the Cathay Cineleisure.

Personally it was rather surprising that in addition to myself, 3 other Pedal Ubin guides, 1 toddycat (and family) who learned of it from Habitatnews and 1 Pulau Ubin Stories reader (with friends) attended the event. Maybe it was the unexpected free glasses they were giving away in exchange for a survey done!

Ticket stub and a free glass courtesy of Panasonic and Arts Central. Photo by November.

Interestingly, in response to my previous queries about the lanterns from the team in front of the temple, Choon Hiong responded that the lanterns were a dedication to the shrine. Likewise, the cast and crew also "burn offerings for her". Considering how the team met with some paranormal incidents while shooting Moving Gods that warranted the visit of SPI (Singapore Paranormal Investigators) and a subsequent documentary called the Curse of Moving Gods, one is definitely not surprised.

Appeasing the Gods? Photo by November.

Another factoid we uncovered during the screening was that the writer of the ST Article, "Mystery Girl of Ubin", Tan Shzr Ee, is also the composer of several songs in Moving Gods. According to MrBudak, Shzr Ee is a ethnomusicologist pursuing her PHD in UK studying indigenous folk music of East Asia.

Photo by November.

After all these interesting factoids and 2 thumbs up from Sivasothi (aka Otterman), I am sure many of you are eager to get a chance to watch Moving Gods.

The good news is that a separate screening of Moving Gods and 2 other documentaries by XTREME Productions, including the curse of the moving gods and german girl (a documentary filmed in year 2000 about the German Girl Shrine, possibly from the Find German Girl project), will be held tentatively at the end of August in NUS. Hopefully then the many questions provoked by Moving Gods will be answered during the Q&A session we hope to have with the director after the screening.

More information will be posted when details are confirmed.

[update: Arts Central has given us preliminary permission to screen Moving Gods but awaiting a formal reply by 1 Aug.]


Post a Comment

<< Home