Tuesday, September 24, 2013

That's Not Very World-Class, Yusry

Oh Yusry...

If you want to play with the big boys, then you gotta think big, or stay at home.

Before I go on, a little context. Sometime last week, I saw the much-hyped KRU Studios' production, Vikingdom. In a way, you could say that it's a follow-up to the successful Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa [2011], which I really liked (I even defended it). I think Vikingdom falls short on so many things that makes Merong Mahawangsa good, but this isn't really a review of the film, so I'll save my thoughts for later.

So as I was watching the film, I knew that it was laden with inaccuracies, being an avid fan of mythologies. But I didn't dwell on it because I didn't think that the movie took itself (or the source material) seriously. If there was a title card that billed Vikingdom as a work of fiction (or not), I don't know as I entered the hall about ten minutes into the movie.

I just assumed that it's a work of fantasy, plain and simple. The fact that there's an action sequence involving a godawfully-rendered T-rex should have made it obvious.

So when I learned later that Vikingdom had claimed to be "a collision of myth and history", I felt a sense of dread. After all, it's no secret that they would like for Vikingdom to be their big break into the international scene. Good for them. But they do know that Westerners, generally speaking, take a lot of pride in who they are and what they do. So if you wanna play with them, you shouldn't send them anything half-assed 'cause they won't respond kindly to it.

However, I had never thought that an expert in Norse Mythology would give Vikingdom two hours of his day. But one Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried sure did. I suppose it's obvious in retrospect. I didn't know half the things he wrote about in his open letter to KRU Studios, but I had assumed that the latter did because, well, they claimed to have done extensive research on the matter. Norman Abdul Halim even claimed to have read ten books on Nordic history.

None of which ended up on screen, apparently, because director Yusry Abdul Halim had recently gone on record to clarify that Vikingdom is now a work of fantasy and not really "a collision of myth and history", nor it is "based on viking legends and the epic poems they left as record".

I don't doubt that Yusry knows a thing or two about Norse Mythology, at least enough to know that Thor is not originally from Marvel Comics (I attribute the error to bad journalism. The reporter even seemed to have thought that the movie is called The Art of Vikingdom). I'm just disappointed in the very Meleis way he handled the issue; when at loss, discredit your detractors.

Yeah, instead of showing some class and be apologetic about it, Yusry went on record to say, "No one could confirm who he (Dr. Seigfried) is, and whether or not he really is an expert (in Norse Mythology)..." And boy, I sure hope he was misquoted when he said that "even the Westerners are unsure if the Vikings and Thor really existed".

Seigfried has a sense of humour. I like that.
A quick Google search would have told you that this Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried is the real deal. Heck, the dude even has his own Wikipedia page. If you can spend so much time and money doing "research" for Vikingdom, surely you can spend minutes to find out who is Dr. Seigfried? Of course, Seigfried's reply was prompt, and I sank deeper into my chair.

It's not that I care all that much what the world think of us. I just care about how we present ourselves to the world.


Az said...

USD 15.6 million is a lot of money for seriously crappy acting and mediocre special effects. Embarrassing!

Anonymous said...

The actual budget was NOT 15.6 Million USD...it was only 6.1 million USD. This is a very, very low budget for a film of this type. Given their budgetary constraints, I think they did pretty well. Hollywood would not have been able to make this film, at all, for the available budget. So you shouldn't be "embarrassed"...you should be proud that KRU were brave enough to attempt this kind of film, on their kind of budget.

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