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April 1, 2012

Bunohan (2012)

"Bunohan is one of those slow movies that I don't really mind being slow..."



After years of separation, three step brothers, Adil (Zahiril Adzim), Ilham (Faizal Hussein) and Bakar (Pekin Ibrahim) returned to their hometown, Bunohan, all with their own individual intention and mission... The reunion was a bloody one as all three turned against each other in a dispute on inheritance and blood ties... 


First of all, I would like to congratulate Dain Said, the director of Bunohan for the success of making such high quality and in depth movie... I have to say, this is the best Malay movie I've ever seen so far... 

Okey, now lets move on to the analysis... Dear readers, bear in mind that this writing of mine is based on my own findings and it can be contradicting with your thoughts... If u find there's a need to correct me, please do so by leaving some comments on the comment section below...

Camera Work

The thing that first caught my attention and impressed me the most is the camera work... Instead of using basic camera techniques, Dain Said experimented with close ups and long shots, thus putting some artistic values in each movie frame and scene... For example, the part when Bakar had a conversation with his father, Pak Eng... Instead of just focusing on the conversation, the camera shifted focus on the whole house with Bakar and Pak Eng at the windows of their respected rooms... I was also wowed at the scene when Bakar killed his own father... Superb camera trick there...

Besides that, there are so many panoramic shots showing the vast area of greenery, indicating how beautiful and untouched most places in Kelantan are... 



The Story

The fact that the script is mostly Kelantanese is not the most unique feature of this movie... Instead, what makes it so special is the story line because there are so many hidden messages behind most of the scenes...

Bunohan is one of those slow movies that I don't really mind being slow... It starts with an enigma by showing two old folks talking about main puteri and saka leaving the audience blurred on what the movie is all about... Then, it blasts them with the intensity of a Muay Thai underground fight followed by a bloody riot and the portrayal of how badass Faizal Hussein is as a hitman... The movie then transits into a slower pace until the end...

However, the slow pace is not something to dread about as audience are treated with more enigmas and shocking revelations on what really happened in Bunohan and what triggered the family dispute... 


Hidden Messages

A straight forward movie is the least appropriate term to describe Bunohan... Like I said before, there are so many hidden messages in the scenes and here are some that I could figure out on my own... 

Lets start with the title, BUNOHAN... In Malay, Bunohan means "the killing" or "murder"... This could be a foreshadowing of how the story would be - full with blood spills and horrifying deaths... However, is it really that frank? I don't think so... 

I think that humans are not the only ones being killed in this movie... The massacre is also on the culture... Pak Wah had told us about it a few times by giving lectures on how humans had been destroying nature's gifts and thus the traditional ways of treating wounds and injuries are slowly fading and no longer practiced... 

The death of culture is also portrayed in Adil's action of declining the land inheritance... The land is actually a symbolism of culture... Instead of embracing his people's ways, Adil traveled far and learned Muay Thai which is a foreign martial arts... This sort of portrays the condition that is happening today where our youngsters prefer to embrace foreign ways of life instead of living their own... 

When Adil rejected the land inheritance, the old graves including his mother's, were dug out and the bones were thrown away in the wild... This shows how the rejection of culture inheritance by our future generation can lead to the tarnation of history...

Adil represents the young people of our country...

Whereas, Bakar represents the vicious modern businessmen and politicians... He's like Lynas... With the presence of Lynas, culture and nature will be destroyed... Bakar ordered the damnation of the graves and his project on the land shall destroy everything... 

Adil ignored the land and therefore it gave Bakar the chance to seize and manipulate it for his own profit... Young people are being ignorant on the importance of defending our country's resources and inheritance thus opening doors to businessmen to destroy culture and history... 

Bakar's vicious actions to gain the land obviously portrays the dirty games businessmen and politicians play in order to gain profit... At first, they play with words and when they're desperate, they go for the kill...


What about Ilham? What does he represents? I'm not so sure about it... I guess Ilham is a portrayal of those who stands between culture and foreign ways... Just like Adil, Ilham also traveled far and acquired foreign ways of living... However, despite of that, he still believe in his history and culture... He came back to Bunohan and gave effort in searching for the truth and restoring graves...

At the end of the day, both Adil and Ilham were killed in the name of business... It's nothing personal, it's just business... Before Adil learns about the real truth and proclaim the land, it's best for him to be eliminated... Ilham tried to protect Adil but he's also eliminated... Do you understand the symbolism? At the end of the day, Bakar is the only one who survived and gained profit out of the dispute...

The fact that they all are brothers indicates that the businessmen are actually killing their own people...

Another aspect that I'm not so sure of is the representation of the kid who tried to learn from Pak Eng... Who is he? and why is he so spooky? All I know is the conversation between the two old men at the beginning of the movie had to do with him... Maybe he's possessed by Pak Eng's spirit and acted as a gateway for the late Mek Yah to communicate with Pak Eng... 


To summarize, Bunohan is a slow paced movie with a really intriguing story with lots of hidden messages... For me, it's an extraordinary movie, on par with foreign indie movies and Oscar materials... 

Many complained about how Bunohan is not getting the appreciation it totally deserves... Well, as I were saying, Bunohan is on par with Oscar movies... Have you ever seen Oscar movies being celebrated on the blockbuster lists? Nope... but they sure win a lot of awards...

Yes, Bunohan should be awarded for it's artistic and moralistic values... Go Bunohan!!


4.5 out of 5 stars... 

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