throes of empire

Amidst the death throes of colonialism, films such as those produced by the Malayan Film Unit, sought to maintain social order and prepare for and imagine a modern, self-governing society.What we see throughout this decade is a growing awareness on the part of the Government of the importance of film as a means of communicating to disparate, and largely illiterate, audiences.
This page is managed by Shabbir Hussain Mustafa.

Voices of Malaya (1948)

‘Malaya has changed. New ways grow side by side with the old. In no country is the struggle between traditional ways and the modern world more intense.’ A Malayan Film Unit production, Voices of Malaya shows the region before, during and after the war. From the early settlements of various different ethnic groups to the Japanese Occupation and the later communist threat, this film is a short condensed history of Malaya through the eyes of the returning British. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS FILM

 Alien Orders (1951)

With the communist threat imminent and having struck at the heart of Malaya, the mines and plantations are being destroyed by a highly-organised, resourceful and ruthless enemy that hides in the cover of dense jungles. Unabashedly propogandistic, the film shows how the alien orders are being resisted, countered and brought to nought. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS FILM

 A New Life – Squatter Resettlement (1951)

A short documentary film highlighting the staunch anti-communist agenda of the Malayan Film Unit, A New Life: A Squatter Resettlement is a documentary attempting to win over the hearts of Malayans by emphasizing the welfare provided to resettled Chinese squatters in a bid to isolate them from Communists in the jungles. CLICK HERE TO VIEW FILM

The Knife – Based on A True Story (1952)

The Knife – Based on a True Story takes an anecdotal and narratival approach in its dramatic presentation of the story of Che Mansur and Che Osman’s encounter with communist guerrillas in the forest, illustrating the multiple forms the Malayan Film Unit experimented with to get the anti-communist agenda across. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS FILM

The Year in Malaya (1955)

A short film produced after the British colonial government granted self-independence to Malaya, it covers the first Malayan general elections, emphasising popular support for Tunku Abdul Rahman and the Alliance Party, proclaiming that “the new era has begun”.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS FILM

The Malayan University (1955)

[film stills coming soon]
Taking a closer look at the creation of a “complete, creative, universal – a true university” and portrayed as legacy of benevolent British colonialism through the lenses of the Malayan Film Unit, the optimism for the future self-governing Malaya can hardly be complete without looking at the foundation of the Malayan University.

Operation Malaya (1953)

Filmed on location in 1953, Operation Malaya narrates the political developments in Malaya since the Japanese Occupation. Seeing the war between the colonials and “jungle terrorists” from the perspective of an unknown “reporter”, this largely an anti-communist propaganda film, is an example of a production targeted at British publics.


[details coming soon]


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