James Brooke is the White Rajah of Sarawak
'The Edge of the World' Premiers in Singapore
The long awaited, pandemic delayed, Rajah / Edge of the World finally arrived in Singapore on July 17, 2023 and was welcomed with a Red Carpet screening at the Golden Village, Vivo City. As Sarawak celebrates its 60th anniversary as a Malaysian state the movie, an adventure drama film hits the big screen. Directed by Michael Haussman it stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as James Brooke, Atiqah Hasiholan, Dominic Monaghan, Hannah New, and Josie Ho.
High Commissioner of Malaysia to Singapore, H.E. Dato Dr. Azfar Mohamad Mustafar (above top) and Chew Chang Guan, Chief Executive Officer of Sarawak Trade & Tourism Co. Pte. Ltd (above lower) were among the invited guests who took to the red carpet before the stars of the movie arrived.
Bront Palarae, actor, director, host, screenwriter, and producer, was the first of the cast to make an appearance. Bront portrays Pengiran Indera Mahkota (over his left shoulder in the poster). The experienced actor said that Raja has opened up more doors and says there is more to come from him. More is certainly to come as he gave a strong performance as the villain, the murderous Mahkota.
Atiqah Hasiholan (top of page) - the love interest – plays the alluring Princess Fatima who falls in love and lives with James Brooke. Asked what kind of woman Fatima is she replied, “She must have been a strong minded woman. Her and James were partners. She gave him a perspective of Sarawak that he wouldn’t have known. In playing this role I learned a lot about myself. I learned more about my history and culture.”
Award winning actress and a producer of the show, Josie Ho, also learned about the history and culture of Asia through this movie. “When I first looked at the script, I thought that Madam Lim was a role but then I was told this was a true story. I never get offered a role in a period piece,” said the daughter of Hong Kong-Macau billionaire businessman Stanley Ho. This was the first time. This is such a good concept,” she stated. I am Interested in knowing more about the colonial time.”
The other star of the movie is the stunning Malaysian state of Sarawak. Not surprisingly, as the movie takes place in the mid-1800s, we see Borneo's stunning pristine rainforest. And as beautiful as it is, we only get a glimpse of Sarawak. Today there is much more to experience and explore, plus in the capital of Kuching you can still see the results of the Brooke's family work as Wikipedia informs us: "The architectural legacy of the dynasty can be seen in many of the country's 19th-century and colonial heritage buildings. In Kuching these include the Astana, or governor's residence; the Sarawak Museum, the Old Courthouse, Fort Margherita, (above) the Square Fort, and Brooke Memorial. The Brooke Dockyard, which was founded in the period of Rajah Charles, is still in operation, as is the original Sarawak Museum.
The movie, though based on real characters, focuses on one small period of the Brooke family's dynasty as the White Rajahs of Sarawak, that lasted about 100 years. The movie borrows from Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now which was influenced by Joseph Conrad's 1899 novel Heart of Darkness. Scenes of 'natives' standing along the banks the rivers almost seem lifted from Apocalypse Now as does James Brooke's smearing his face black just before he kills Mahkota must certainly have been inspired by similar scenes in Apocalypse Now. Not anything wrong with that as 'standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before' is common in the artistic world.
There was a strong focus on the relationship between Brooke and the people around him and for me, it was these relationships that make the movie compelling. The movie did an excellent job of showing the beauty of Sarawak, but if you want to learn about the history of the White Rajahs of Sarawak I would suggest a good history book would be of more value.
For more photos and less text go to Asian Journeys' facebook page: Rajah
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