New Straits Times: Hollywood zooms in on White Rajah's life


Hollywood zooms in on White Rajah's life

SWASHBUCKLING FEATURE: American producer to start filming next year

KUCHING: AN epic Hollywood feature on White Rajah James Brooke is in the works.

American film producer Rob Allyn, who has a string of festival-winning movies to his name, will be in Sarawak this week to carry out more research on the first White Rajah who once ruled the state.

Allyn's studio, Margate House Films, is working together with the Brooke Heritage Trust to produce the movie.

The trust is advising on the historical content, building designs and watercraft for the film, which has a US$15 million (RM48 million) budget.

"We are working at building a full-scale replica of the vessel Royalist, which will remain in Kuching as a heritage attraction and a living museum exhibit," said Allyn yesterday.

The Royalist was a schooner on which James Brooke sailed to Sarawak in 1838, in the midst of an uprising against the sultan of Brunei. He met with Pangeran Muda Hashim, to whom he offered his services to crush the rebellion.

In return, he won the friendship of the sultan. In 1841, Brooke was subsequently offered the governorship of Sarawak.

He was later granted the title Rajah of Sarawak on Sept 24, 1841, and began to establish his rule over the state. He reformed the state administration, passed new laws and fought against piracy.

The movie is scheduled for shooting next year at several sites, including Singapore, Batam Islands in Indonesia, Thailand, Fiji and Australia.

It will focus on Brooke's journey and battles with pirates.

The project was made possible by the Tourism Ministry's approach to attract filmmakers to the state, which would indirectly help to promote it as a tourist destination.

"James Brooke's adventure is a great story that has yet to be told on film. But with the technical advice of the Brooke Heritage Trust and the Tourism Ministry, we plan to make an action-packed, romantic swashbuckling adventure in the tradition of big screen epics like Braveheart, Lawrence of Arabia and Last of the Mohicans," said Allyn.

Jason Brooke, the great-great-grandson of second White Rajah Charles Brooke, said the trust was pleased with the overall creative approach, attention to authenticity, and sensitivity to the culture and history of Sarawak.

"They have showed us the script and we are happy with it. A film like White Rajah would be a revolution for the tourism, economy and image of Sarawak," said Brooke.

Read more at the New Straits Times