Sandcastle is an interesting debut feature by Boo Junfeng. Actually I would name the film Sandcity (Chinese Literal Translation, a pun on Lion City) while my friend said Dragonflies would be a more apt title. In any case the movie gives a small taste of Singapore culture in the 2000s from the point of view of a 18-year-old kid, En.
There are a number of different possible motifs in the film. The movie starts off with a montage of almost patriotic footage of nation building in the 50s and 60s, with a nostalgic version of ‘Home’ being sang in Chinese. As En discovers about his deceased father’s past, he digs out an under-represented missing part of Singapore’s history. The uncompleted jigsaw puzzle of the grandparents has a missing piece which relates to this. En finds out that his dad was in the student union, which actively proteste against the English-isation of the Chinese schools. Such activities were often branded by the Govt as pro-communist. Most people thought that he had been “brainwashed”, while his grandfather thinks that the brain is not possible to washed. The only thing that the people have was a sense of determination and strong beliefs, striving to build or find the ‘Utopia’ under the sea.
Juxtapose to modern Singapore, as images of celebrating National Day flash, and as En prepares to go to the army for National Service. “Training to be soldiers, fight for our land. Have you ever wondered, why must we serve?” Because just like our forefathers, we are striving to keep the Utopia (or still finding it depending on your point of view). Is it a patriotic film? Not necessarily. It is not exactly just a political thing, but it is about a group of people with common beliefs, building a common identity.
Such a notion is very vulnerable, like a sandcastle, which be easily washed by the waves and storms of the seasons. Just like life, it is gone in the twinkling of an eye. It is the belief in our hearts that keeps us going.
Will you have such strong determination and courage to do what you believe in against all odds?
Is This Home?