Sunday, August 12, 2012

[DVD] Talentime (2009)

Dearly Departed, and Missed

Like Mukhsin, Yasmin Ahmad's final feature film Talentime had a theatrical release in Singapore, but unfortunately there isn't distribution for the DVD. So those in Singapore will have to make do with the Malaysian DVD release, and unfortunately the reproduction leaves much to be desired. It's also not easy to hunt down a copy with English subtitles, and thankfully I had a friend do that for me recently given a trip to Kuala Lumpur.

It's almost touch and go, given that the details of the DVD printed on the sleeve, for some unknown reason, only lists down the film as having Malay subtitles only. After all, Yasmin's Talentime has a mixture of the major languages used in her country Malaysia, and I believe English was one of the dominant languages used by the characters in the film, since the teenagers are in a multi-racial co-ed school, and have to rely on English, other than Bahasa, as the lingua-franca. Having watched this a number of times already, I can probably get by with not having the English subtitles available, but that would suck if I were to rewatch the film some time down the road. What you could do, if you manage to track down a copy at a shop, is to request that the DVD be played, so that you could have a chance to verify if the subtitles are available in Malay only, or has English ones available. But the DVDs are getting scarce, so I'd recommend that you'd grab any copy available first in any case.

For the brilliance of her films, the DVD releases of her filmography has unfortunately been found wanting. Rabun is only available on VCD and is out of print, and so is Sepet - the Singapore DVD release having the best reproduction and the Malaysian one requiring cuts to be made. Singapore's DVD release of Gubra is also the best version out there, but after that film, the rest didn't really have a proper transfer. Mukhsin was in letterbox format and seemed to have been lifted from a fairly bad print, with care put into audio presentation instead, and so was Muallaf, although the latter was in an anamorphic widescreen presentation, and more importantly, without cuts. Talentime though was again in the letterbox presentation, with some detectable noise in the print.

You can read my review of Talentime here.

The Region Free DVD by Primeworks Studios and MVM Home Entertainment presents the film in the letterbox format, with subtitles available in Malay and English, despite having it printed on the DVD sleeve as "Bahasa Malaysia" only, and even imprinting that notice on the DVD disc itself. So as already mentioned, track a copy down, and request for a verification. Audio is available in Stereo only, and scene selection is over 9 chapters. There are no extras found in this release, which is a real pity. But you can probably make do with the blog entries that can be found in Yasmin's blogs The Storyteller and The Filmmaker, where she dropped nuggets of information from her films, especially the later ones, including Talentime.

My hope is that one day, all of Yasmin Ahmad's films could be remastered properly so that future generations can get to enjoy her films in the manner as they were intended. It may not be easy navigating through all the rights and ownership, but if there's a will, there will be a way.


YTSL said...

Hi Stefan --

I've been trying for ages to get a Singaporean DVD of "Sepet" -- basically, whenever my mother's gone to Singapore, I've asked her to go see if she can find a copy in a video store. So far, no joy -- and now I have confirmation from you that it's out of print.

I'd like a DVD of "Talentime" too... in the meantime, I content myself with having the OST CD of that film which I really do reckon is lovely. And yes, I will cherish my experience of having viewed "Talentime" at the HK International Film Festival with Yasmin in the crowd -- and, in fact, sitting one row behind me...

At the end of the movie, I turned around and mouthed "Thank you" to her, and she replied with a "Thank you" herself.

I still from time to time go on Youtube and check out her works -- the great Petronas commercials, the "Funeral" public service message/ad, and the opening credits for "Sepet", with the wonderful Sam Hui song playing over the visuals.

Yasmin gave us a lot to remember her by but I still really wish that she could be around to conjure up even more film magic.

Stefan S said...

Hi YTSL! I will keep a lookout for Sepet for you, just in case there's a rare copy still left on the shelves in some obscure DVD shop that I come across.

As for Talentime, my friend got it for me from KL, and from what I can read up on the Net, the version with only Malay subtitles doesn't subtitle scenes that has sign language. This one, with the English and Malay subs, does.

Ah, the memories of the wonderful lady. I'm sure every fan will have our personal and most memorable moments that we'll cherish for life!

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