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The What-Has-Been and the Now of a Communist Past in Malaya in the Films of Amir Muhammad

The What-Has-Been and the Now of a Communist Past in Malaya in the Films of Amir Muhammad This article considers two films by the Malaysian filmmaker Amir Muhammad, The Last Communist of 2006 and the Village People Radio Show of 2007. Both films are focused on the Malayan Emergency and the lives of a small group of Malayan communists. Through an engagement with Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller,” the analysis in this article examines the aesthetic forms that structure Amir’s films, namely nonlinear narratives, intertextuality, and the use of images and stories as comparative frames. This article argues that Amir’s films enable audiences to recognize how the truth of a communist past in Malaysia, both of its politics and suppression, inflects the present. The films provide an opening to recognize how the absence of communism today is the effect of the ideological clearing of all leftism that became the hallmark of the end of the British Empire in Malaysia. Communism is made meaningful in Amir’s films both as a lived experience and as a displacement that is absent from the postcolonial everyday. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions Duke University Press

The What-Has-Been and the Now of a Communist Past in Malaya in the Films of Amir Muhammad

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Copyright
Copyright 2021 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
DOI
10.1215/10679847-8722769
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article considers two films by the Malaysian filmmaker Amir Muhammad, The Last Communist of 2006 and the Village People Radio Show of 2007. Both films are focused on the Malayan Emergency and the lives of a small group of Malayan communists. Through an engagement with Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller,” the analysis in this article examines the aesthetic forms that structure Amir’s films, namely nonlinear narratives, intertextuality, and the use of images and stories as comparative frames. This article argues that Amir’s films enable audiences to recognize how the truth of a communist past in Malaysia, both of its politics and suppression, inflects the present. The films provide an opening to recognize how the absence of communism today is the effect of the ideological clearing of all leftism that became the hallmark of the end of the British Empire in Malaysia. Communism is made meaningful in Amir’s films both as a lived experience and as a displacement that is absent from the postcolonial everyday.

Journal

positionsDuke University Press

Published: Feb 1, 2021

References