- By Maung Thinn Pyant, Photo : Zwe Man
The most auspicious days for three promising events have been marked on the calendar for the year 2020.
Waiting eagerly to be celebrated in that single year are the days for the Centenary for National Day; the Centenary for Yangon University; and the Centenary for Myanmar Movies.
Grand and impressive preparations are already underway in Yangon as the three separate organizing groups are gearing up to host the highly anticipated centenaries in pomp, splendid and colorful occasions.
Especially, the stakeholders such as that of ministerial authorities, officials from businesses related to the film industry, representatives from theatre, music and film organizations, experts and interested persons in the Myanmar movie world are very much eager to celebrate the Centenary of Myanmar Movies with much more enjoyable and merrier mood compared to the past 75th anniversary of diamond jubilee in the country.
All the treasures of 100-year old Myanmar movies are methodically and meticulously kept at the Myanmar Motion Picture Museum, a film museum dedicated to the Cinema of Myanmar located in Yangon. It is housed in a building which was formerly the headquarters of the Myanmar Motion Picture Organization.
Back in the year 1920, the Myanmar movie named “Myittar and Thuyar” was presented to the public amidst the highest difficulties of endeavors in the movie production during the colonial era.
Milestone of Myanmar movie was erected in the “silent era”, and later, the art of motion pictures grew into full maturity.
Silver Jubilee of Myanmar movies was scheduled to be celebrated in the year 1945 after the long journey of 25 years, however, it failed to realize due to various unforeseen circumstances.
Nevertheless, the Silver Jubilee of Myanmar movies was celebrated in the year 1947 in conjunction with the Industrial Exhibition at the Western Pavilion of the Great Shwedagon Pagoda.
Much to be remembered of the showcase was the fact that Bogyoke Aung San, the architect of Independence of Myanmar, graced the event, which was being celebrated on the 27th year of movie history. Golden Jubilee of Myanmar movie was commemorated and celebrated in the year 1970 during the Revolutionary Council administration in the country.
In the pomp of flaming colors, the Silver Jubilee, the Golden Jubilee, and the Diamond Jubilee were celebrated in grandeur scale at the National Theatre, the Tatmadaw Hall, and the Maiden Football Stadium on Myoma Kyaung Street.
Ideas and suggestions are being sought for celebrating the Centenary event on a grand scale through the formation of Temporary Committee for Organizing the Centenary of Myanmar Films, and then the month of October 2019 is being earmarked to step ahead with the formation of Main Organizing Committee.
Doors of the Myanmar Motion Picture Museum are to be opened for showcasing the preparatory, introductory and initial opening of Centenary Myanmar Movies presentation.
Early years under the colonial rule, the Myanmar movie started their rough days and tough days in the production by the ancestors and forefathers of Myanmar movies.
Without the proper movie cameras and minus the modern filming techniques, the people in the Myanmar movie domain tried their best by using the normal still camera as movie camera, as they could not suppress their desire to be on a par with the western countries. With regards to the movies, they connected and rolled in with the three feet camera film into fifty feet long movie film.
Working on the three feet long normal camera film was all right, but, processing the fifty feet long artificially connected film was not that easy. Scrambled into the filming and movie production books acquired from abroad, the film makers had finally created a Myanmar movie.
With dedicated determination, they processed over the 400 feet long glued and connected films and finally made the silent movie “Myittar and Thuyar” and presented to the public across the country.
There was loud applause as the young and the old in the country accorded to that movie.
At that cross road, Myanmar audience had the pleasure of enjoying only the foreign movies, and that the Myanmar movie was not up to their satisfaction on various aspects of movie production as the film makers had no modern expertise.
Facial images of all the actors and the characters in the movie were all brown, dark and murky as the movie makers had no ideas in supplementing the makeup and lightings. They were unaware of the necessity to do things such as that of adding facial makeup; that of applying lipsticks; that of hiding and shading the protruding tensed jaw with makeup; that of fine defining the nose outline for better and beautiful shape; that of feeding more heat to the thick film texture.
Experiencing the dark and murky faces occurred in the first movie, the renowned actor U Nyi Pu painstakingly read the movie production books from abroad, and then rushed in producing the second movie. Facial makeups were applied, the red lipsticks were glossed on the lips, and the lighting was flooded.
With many drawbacks and loopholes in the film settings, the old movie gurus tried their best in producing Myanmar movies.
During the unsophisticated and unrefined olden days, there were no lipsticks and no makeup in Myanmar, which necessitate in creating such beauty items for movie production.
Centering the years of black and while cinematography, the forefathers of the movie world clambered, climbed and crawled with many personal creation in the production of Myanmar movies.
Recounting his experiences, U Aye Kyu Lay, Member of Myanmar Naing Ngan Motion Picture and Theatrical Asiayone said, “We could not celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Myanmar Movie event at the right time due to many unexpected circumstances. However, we successfully organized the show in conjunction with the Industrial Exhibition at the Western Pavilion of the Great Shwedagon Pagoda. It was an era under the colonial government. Bogyoke Aung San so kindly graced the occasion. The Golden Jubilee was held in Yangon and in Mandalay. The Diamond Jubilee was held in Yangon and it was conducted in a broader scale as the state leaders had attended the event.”
He continued that the upcoming 2020 Myanmar Movie Centenary is under the good care and cooperation of Yangon Region Government, and the renovation task of the Myanmar Motion Picture Museum is to be completed at the end of October.
Conceived, born and implemented at a difficult time, the founders of Myanmar movies have had to work hard under the colonial rule without the standard movie apparatuses. Purchasing a normal still camera and attached with a locally made crude box, they eventually produced a Myanmar movie.
Three feet film are glued to a long stretch to fifty feet film, and then to four hundred feet film. Lack of expertise, short of beauty items were the hurdles in the production of Myanmar movies.
To be continued
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)