Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Garden of Evening Mists Movie Premieres on HBO Asia and HBO Go, 13 September 2020

Those of us who were fortunate enough to have met our grandparents might have heard tales of how life was like in Malaya during World War II. It was a harrowing time, particularly during the Japanese Occupation where thousands of civilians died from the atrocities of war.

Many of the World War II survivors would have already passed away by now. Red Dot Diva's own maternal grandmother, who was a young girl at that time, died last year at the age of 94. The only way generations born during or after the war could imagine how it was like then, was either through oral storytelling, books or movies which depicted that era.

One of the most nuanced and beautifully told story about World War II in Malaya and its aftermath is the critically-acclaimed novel “THE GARDEN OF EVENING MISTS” by Malaysian writer, Tan Twan Eng. The book has been adapted to a movie by Astro Shaw and HBO Asia, with support from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) in association with CJ Entertainment.

The Golden Horse Award winning film was screened here in January 2020, but if you missed it at the theatres, you can now catch it on HBO Asia and HBO Go when it premieres this Sunday, 13 September. Filmed in Malaysia, the 2-hour film is directed by award-winning Tom Lin from Taiwan, with a screenplay adaptation by Scottish BAFTA-winning Richard Smith.

Bringing the book's main character and narrator to life is Malaysian actress Sinje Lee (“The Eye”) as Teoh Yun Ling. Joining her, is a star-studded international cast that includes Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe (“After the Storm”), British actors David Oakes (“Cold Skin”) and Julian Sands (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), and Scottish actor John Hannah (“The Mummy”). Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang (“Love Education”) also plays the role of Teoh Yun Ling in a different era.

In “THE GARDEN OF EVENING MISTS”, three different timelines weave back and forth as Teoh Yun Ling, the sole survivor of a World War II internment camp, attempts to seek solace in the misty hills of Cameron Highlands. Hidden in the rolling landscape, she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, owned by Nakamura Aritomo (Hiroshi Abe), who was once the gardener of the Emperor of Japan. Yun Ling requests to be his apprentice, which he reluctantly accepts. Her beloved sister had died in the camp, and Yun Ling wanted to build a garden in memory of her.

While working on her garden, Yun Ling inevitably revisits her past. How did she manage to survive the imprisonment but her sister did not? She also becomes entwined in a love affair with the mysterious Aritomo. Meanwhile, the guerrilla war called the Malayan Emergency, gets bloodier as communist terrorists plague the farmers and miners, while Malaysian nationalists try to gain independence for the country from British colonial rule.

Watch the trailer for “THE GARDEN OF EVENING MISTS”:

THE GARDEN OF EVENING MISTS” consists of dialogue in English, Mandarin, Japanese and Bahasa Malaysia. You can watch the movie on streaming service HBO GO, or on HBO (Starhub TV 601, Singtel TV 420) on Sunday, 13 September at 10pm. HBO GO is available via Astro, StarHub, Singtel and meWatch or at

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