Ola Bola is a Malaysian movie inspired by true events. It was released in 28 January 2016, and I must admit, I did not get to catch it until last week. Maybe it was meant to be, as I get to watch it for the first time, big screen with a Live Orchestra. Not just any orchestra but the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. After a week is nearly over, I can still feel that magic in the air. Let me tell you why.
First things, the movie is amazingly beautiful, of international standards, acting and storyline wise. I love the whole thing and devoured the whole seamless performance. OlaBola was hugely popular when it was released. Not only was it based on true events of Malaysia’s glorious football ara of 1980, it also stirred a sense of unity in all of us Malaysians.
It is a movie about team unity, a movie about heroism, a movie about beating all odds. Maybe that is why most of us can identify with it. Even more beautiful, the movie did not fake things by using just one language. You can hear every day Malaysian languages used throughout the movie, from Mandarin to Malay, Hokkien to Tamil, English to Manglish, it was all raw and right as it should be. Beautifully done, I thought to myself.
However, this is not a movie review. The MPO was helmed by conductor Jessica Cottis from Australia. I must admit that I tend to forget the orchestra when I am watching a movie with live orchestra and it is a compliment rather than an insult. The only reason I felt is that they play so perfectly without a flaw, matching every scene after scene so well as if it was prerecorded except that it was performed live. It is still something that I cannot fathom, a magical experience again and again. Nevertheless, Cottis is mesmerizing and very convicted in her work.
Juwita Suwito was another familiar name I saw on the poster. An acclaimed vocal coach, singer and songwriter in Malaysia, I can safely call myself a fan of her voice. A most powerful and angelic voice pierces the soul with every song she renders. She sings some of the tracks in the movie especially the theme song, Arena Cahaya. Stephanie Van Driesen also lent her hauntingly beautiful voice to the soundtrack.
At the end of the movie, the composer of the score Onn San came on the stage as well as some of the actors. Onn San hailed from KL, making Ola Bola a really local production in full. I love all the music performed throughout the movie, and some of the passages that were not in the original movie was performed that night as well. I must give credit to the amazing UCSI Chorale that sealed the performance and moved the movie to a whole new level. All in all a spellbinding night at the movies with live music, a story that was so touching, I teared more than just a little. Thanks again MPO for a wonderful programme.
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