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Celluloid Singapore

Cinema, Performance and the National

Edna Lim

eBook (PDF) i

Examines how Singapore cinema functions as a national cinema

Celluloid Singapore is a ground-breaking study of the three major periods in Singapore’s fragmented cinema history, namely the golden age of the 1950s and 60s, the post-studio 1970s, and the revival from the 1990s onwards. Set against the context of Singapore’s own trajectory of development, the book poses two central questions: how can the films of each period be considered ‘Singapore’ films, and how is this cinema specifically national? The book argues that the films of these three periods collectively constitute a national cinema through different performances of Singapore, offering a critical framework for understanding this cinema and its history in relation to the development of the country and the national.

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1. Introduction
2. Merdeka!: Merger, separation and a transnational golden age
3. Influence, hybridity and how the past is a foreign country
4. Nation-building, a nun and a bionic boy
5. Not so foreign: the case of Saint Jack
6. One People, One Nation, One Singapore
7. Revival cinema: ‘other’ Singaporeans in (an)other Singapore
8. Singapore cinema in Singapore

About the Author

Edna Lim is a Senior Lecturer with the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Singapore where she primarily teaches film in the Theatre Studies Programme. Her research interests and publications span a range of issues in contemporary Hollywood cinema, adaptation studies, Asian and Singapore cinemas.


Edna Lim’s Celluloid Singapore: Cinema, Performance and the National explores Singapore’s preoccupation with nationhood, historicity and the performance of both in and through cinema, taking the nation-state up to its screen culture present. The book, as such, provides a great deal more than overview or a history of Singaporean cinema. Instead it offers a theoretically informed exploration of cinema as a site for conflicting representations of and by Singapore on the local, regional and global stage, thus revealing this most astonishing phenomena in the historical complexity it so richly deserves. As such, Lim’s book speaks to those interested in Southeast Asian studies, postcolonial studies and aesthetics as well as cinema studies. It is a rare and welcome addition.

- Professor Ryan Bishop, University of Southampton

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