Man at His Best

James Brooke To Go Hollywood

White Rajah of Sarawak to get biopic treatment.

BY Jason S Ganesan | Sep 9, 2016 | Film & TV

The Illustrated History of the British Empire in India and the East. Volume 1

With diversity becoming, rightly or not, one of the main metrics by which Hollywood films are judged of late, maybe a movie about a random white dude sauntering into another country and being given keys to the kingdom isn’t the wisest decision in the world.

But this is the same Hollywood that thought it wise to blow USD 140 million on Gods of Egypt, so there you go.

At the very least, the locals look likely to be played by locals. This is because the production team of The White Rajah, an upcoming biopic of James Brooke, signed an MoU with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia to film in Sarawak.

While the film's IMDb page is light on info, it does contain the description: “The epic tale of Sir James Brooke, the British adventurer who became King of Sarawak in the 1840s and embarked on a lifelong crusade to end piracy and head-hunting—only to face charges of murder and piracy himself.”

The Borneo Post reports that the movie will be produced by Simon Fawcett (Bronson, In the Loop), and interestingly, Rob Allyn. Allyn has spent a lot of time in these parts, producing Merah Putih—a movie about Indonesia’s independence, and its two sequels,  Darah Garuda and Hati Merdeka.

Suspiciously, however, Allyn also ran a PR agency, and served as a political strategist for a number of conservative politicians. Including, it is believed, for Prabowo Subianto in the 2014 Indonesian elections—the brutal Suharto general who is said to have masterminded the ultraviolent May 1998 riots.

Besides the ministry, the producers of The White Rajah will also be collaborating with the Brooke Heritage Trust (run by Jason Brooke, descendant of Anthony), and the Sarawak state government.

A full-scale working replica of the Royalist, the boat on which Brooke sailed to Sarawak, will be built for the movie, and will be left in Sarawak to serve as a tourist attraction. Nice touch, but what we really want to know is if Brooke will be battling Sandokan, the Tiger of Malaysia