We Bet You Didn’t Know About These Hidden Film Locations In Singapore
by Natalya Molok /
January 17, 2018
If you’re a film buff then you already know that Singapore has slowly but steadily attracted the attention of foreign filmmakers who see the city-state’s towering skyscrapers and modernity as the perfect backdrop to their stories.
But we bet you didn’t realise that the Lion City has had a rich cultural filming history since the early 1950s and 1960s with studios like the Shaw Brother’s Malay Film Productions and Cathay-Keris churning out classic movies featuring bygone actors like P. Ramlee, Hong Kong’s Paul Chang and Singapore’s very own Saloma.
Want to know more? Get a comprehensive insight into Singapore’s past at State of Motion – the Asian Film Archive’s annual flagship film and visual arts series of programmes – held from 12 January to 11 February 2018. This year’s theme ‘Sejarahku’ (or ‘My History’) focuses on iconic Malay feature films that reflect the cultural and social ideologies of pre-independence Singapore.
Best of all, there will be guided tours to the locales where these films were shot! Check out some of these forgotten locations in our gallery below:
We Bet You Didn't Know About These Hidden Film Locations In Singapore
Film Location of Seniman Bujang Lapok (1961) and Mogok (1957)
The still-extant but abandoned film studio at No. 8 Jalan Ampas (off Balestier Road), is an endearing testament to the golden era of Malay film production in Singapore during the 1950s to 60s. The studio complex was owned and run by the Shaw Brothers. More than 150 feature movies were produced by the studio over a span of two decades.
Shaw’s Villa (440A Upper East Coast Road)
Film Location of Ibu Mertua Ku (1962)
The eastern shores of Singapore were known for their sandy beaches and picturesque views of the sea – a retreat away from the overcrowded urban core. It is small wonder that many of the affluent during the colonial era purchased land there to build sea-fronting bungalows for private use. One such bungalow belonged to film magnates Runme and Run Run Shaw. Built in the 1950s, it was one of the Shaw’s holiday villas and used regularly for hosting film celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor.
Tanah Merah Besar
Film Location of Darah Muda (1963)
Situated on the east coast of Singapore between Bedok and Changi, Tanah Merah (‘red soil’ in Malay) was named after red lateritic cliffs along the former coastline in the area. It became a popular film location in Malay-language movies, especially when the narrative calls for a serene seaside location where encounters between loved ones or antagonists take place.
Film Location of Isi Neraka (1960)
Remembered in recent times for its popular seafood restaurants and rural charm, Punggol Point and its vicinity had reportedly been populated by coastal fishing villages more than 200 years ago. Kampong Punggol was also most likely the coastal village where Isi Neraka was filmed. The background of film scenes shot at the coastlines is identified to consist of geographical landmarks such as the Johor Straits and Pasir Gudang.
Film location of Sri Menanti (1958)
For a glimpse of the old Serangoon River and Kangkar village, one could refer to a beautiful portrait captured in the beginning of Sri Menanti, where the male protagonist is aboard a ‘tongkang’ on Sungei Serangoon, for a journey north to Sri Menanti in Peninsular Malaya.
Pulau Ubin & Pulau Sekudu
Film Location of Hang Tuah (1956) and Hang Jebat (1961)
1956’s Hang Tuah features a young, courageous warrior who leads his friends to these outcrop islands to ambush a gang of pirates. In 1961’s Hang Jebat, a revisionist response to Hang Tuah, the adult titular character (“returns” and) sits atop the rocks of Sekudu and contemplates a revenge for his maligned sworn brother Hang Tuah.