Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Cinematic Landmark" Going ... Going ... Gone

When I took the monorail from KL Sentral station into the city centre, I'd always keep my eyes peeled for a certain sight somewhere between the old Pudu jail and and Berjaya Times Square. It was where an abandoned building project stood. The unfinished building stood a few storeys high, quite high actually, and had a certain unique look to it mainly because you could see the pillars within and the staircases snaking through its belly. It was like the giant skeleton of a humongous monster.

It was where Tsai Ming-liang filmed I Don't Want To Sleep Alone (Hei Yan Quan).

There are quite a number of such unfinished buildings around the city and its outskirts and in other towns, mainly because of the economic downturn in 1998. Tsai saw a story in there because it just so happened that the period of the economic downturn was also accompanied by our first incidences of the suffocating haze. And it took someone who had lived in Taiwan for so many years to see the point of it all and come back home to make a film about it.

Lately, some of these unfinished projects have been resumed, and unfortunately, so has this building that was a major character in I Don't Want To Sleep Alone. Yesterday I was on the monorail heading out of the city, and while looking out for my favourite sight, I was horrified to see the building draped in green netting and looking quite completed. I felt a deep regret in my heart of not photographing the structure before this.

And now, it's almost "gone," becoming just another concrete mushroom in the landscape of progress. It's most probably going to be another office block, and I wonder how many of those future office workers in the building will realise the significance of their workplace.

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