MOVIES ON THE LAWN (entertainment)


MOVIES ON THE LAWN (entertainment)

I wrote that title before I knew the movies on the lawn are actually called “Under the Banyan Tree: Open Air Cinema”. I don’t remember seeing any Banyan trees, but it certainly sounds fancier.

As the name suggests, I found out our very own National Museum of Singapore plays open air movies. The best part? They’re classics; flicks for movie buffs and hipsters (sadly, I’m more qualified as the latter).

Recently screened was 2001: A Space Odyssey directed by Stanley Kubrick (1968) – a landmark film of modern cinema “that signalled a new dawn of science fiction cinema.”

This haunting classic is centred around a black stone object that appears at various stages of human history; from apes to the space age millions of years into the future. The movie explores the origin of life, evolution, artificial intelligence and the future of humanity – all through provocative and suggestive scenes that push the boundaries of cinematic experience.

Given my experience, this post could have easily been titled “How to get into an argument with a filmmaker: review one of most world’s influential movies and call it ‘creatively indulgent’.” I made that mistake with Eileen Chong, filmmaker behind the documentary series, Singapore Unsung Heroes.

The debate went something like this:

Her: “It’s genius!”

Me: “Yes I know, and it’s also creatively indulgent.”

Her: “No way! You only think that because it’s out of context, it was made in the 60s and totally appropriate for its time” she said, looking like I just insulted her mother.

Me: “Yes, I know, but with all the hallucinogenic visuals and deliberation there is an element of creative indulgence.”

Her: “It’s genius,” she (annoyingly) repeated.

Me: “Yes, ok. Perhaps I’m not explaining myself properly. It’s intentional and masterful, but I think in order to make such a movie, one has to be creatively indulgent.”

Don’t get me wrong, it is genius. Absolute genius. Besides the cinematographic innovation  that will resonate throughout time, it’s the orchestration of music, visual, and subtle psychological evocation that got me the most. I was spell bound in the absence of narrative and gripped by pensive contemplation of space and origin, while the pace of the movie unfolds as if we too, were experiencing zero gravity. How did he do that?

Creative indulgence. Stanley Kubrick as a filmmaker, as a boundary-pusher, had to be creativity indulgent to make that movie. In order to do anything great or original you have to be indulgent – indulgent with your ideas, your vision, and your commitment to make it a reality.

Throughout the movie I was in awe that a person’s mind could envision and relay something so complex in such simplicity. An onslaught of visual and psychological suggestion, it succeeded in being jarring, thought provoking and masterfully disturbing.

But as epic as it was, it gave me the creeps. I felt my emotions being manipulated so intensely – and all by implication and composition. But that’s the purpose of art, no?

2001 A Space Odyssey is a couple hours spent on mind blowing, other worldly contemplation. A must watch. Catch the next movie on the lawn (upcoming shows here)  at the National Museum.

Perfect for a surprise date under the stars and guaranteed after-movie conversation to avoid those awkward silences!

First posed on Executive Lifestyle at 



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