《大世界》is the latest film directed by Kelvin Tong, produced by Mediacorp Raintree Pictures.
From what I have heard of Kelvin, he is indeed a great director who has produced many great works and this, is indeed one of the best amongst his works of art.
The story of《大世界》is set in Singapore’s legendary amusement park Great World in the 1940s, dictating the lives of various people who have lived, worked and played there.
Olivia Ong played the grand-daughter of Yvonne Lin who acted as a well-known photographer in this movie.
She sets out to piece the missing puzzle of the photographs left behind by her grandmother in the old photography studio.
The story slowly unveils when she visited an old friend of her late grandmother. Acted by Chew Chor Meng.
He narrated the story of each and every outstanding individuals shown in the photographs. Diva, performer, Wing Chun Yuan, Game stall owner…
A great ensemble of talented cast which never fails to bring laughter and tears to the audience. Definitely a must-watch movie!
In fact I’m gonna watch it again!
But for now, enough of the movie. It’s screening island-wide so do catch it during CNY!
Let me take you back to the 1940s and unravel the history behind this majestic legend.
Great World Amusement Park also known as Tua Seh Kai in Hokkien, meaning “great world”, was developed along Kim Seng Road by a relative of philanthropist Lee Kong Chian. This man was Lee Choon Yung. This amusement park was not only targeted at the lower-income families back in the 1930s, it was also often patronized by British servicemen and the upper classes when the park started to flourish in the late 50s to 60s, all thanks to Elizabeth Taylor who graced the grand premier of the Sky Cinema and the launch of carnival rides in the park. During its triumphant days, the attendance of a night’s turnout is a jaw-dropping 50,000. Since then, Great World became a renowned location for major trade events like the Indian Trade Exhibition in 1958.
Besides the entertaining performances and thrilling rides like the ghost train, the food was said to be glorious too! Apart from hawker food like “Lok Lok”, there was also the Wing Choon Yuen which served Cantonese food famous for shark’s fin and suckling pig and Diamond Restaurant. In addition to the bustling night life of Great World, the notorious nightclub Flamingo added colours and life with its boisterous music and entertainment. There were also theatres like Canton, Atlantic, Sky and Globe which screened both Chinese and English films.
Sad to say, Great World did not last long. It first changed reign when Shaw took over in 1941. World War Two had broken out soon after, and Great World became a prison for Australian POWs and also a gambling den during the Japanese Occupation. Only after the war did the gambling ceased and Great World was revived by cultural activities like Cantonese, Teochew and Beijing operas which attracted families who flocked there. In the 1950s, rubber boom brought prosperity and business. Shaw upgraded the park by sprucing up the wooden stalls, created fountains and installed carnival rides including the carousel and ferris wheel. The Ghost Train however became almost synonymous with the park.
However, with the emergence of two other amusement parks namely Gay World and New World, its lacklustre business came to an unfortunate end. Televisions bloomed with the mushrooming of supermarkets and night markets (pasar malam) in the 1960s. The number of visitors greatly declined which eventually led to the closure of Great World on 31st March 1964.
In 1979, Shaw sold the park to Robert Kuok. The Kuok Group decided to make the land into a shopping zone and that is where the Great World City Shopping Centre stands today.
With globalisation, many things have changed since our grandparents’ era. We no longer can enjoy ice-kacang balls melting in our bare hands under the hot sun, thanks to hygiene practices.
Even carnival rides like carousels, ghost train and game stalls are hardly seen in this century except the once-in-a-blue-moon Uncle Ringo’s Circus or occasional pasar malam. Looking back in time, somehow the younger generation today has missed out all the childhood fun their parents had and are now immersed in technology. They are no longer naive but are well-equipped with knowledge, preparing themselves for a more competitive future ahead.
If history could repeat for a day, I wish I could travel back to the day when Great World was in its peak and breathe in the atmosphere of the once-popular- now-forgotten legend.
It’s a Great Great World (Facebook)