This Land Is Mine: A Journey To The Past
By Felicity Oh, Diploma in Mass Communication, Republic Polytechnic
As someone who spends exorbitant amounts on Netflix and Disney+ just to fuel her obsession with shows like Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy, I never gave a second thought to locally-produced shows. Come This Land is Mine, a period drama on Post-War Singapore that follows the story of a lawyer as he is seen defending public enemy number one. At the time of writing, four of eight episodes were released on MeWATCH and, admittedly, I binge-watched all four 45-minute episodes in one sitting.
Being a Post-War drama, This Land is Mine is heavily focused on life after World War II, as the British took over the rule of Singapore again. We get to see the aftermath of the events of the war in Singapore, including racial tensions and scornful attitudes towards the Kempeitai.
Based on the book The Devil’s Circle, the final instalment in The Advocate’s Devil trilogy by former Attorney-General Walter Woon, this story follows two cousins, Dennis and June Chiang.
Dennis (played by Pierre Png) is a lawyer at d’Almeida and d’Almeida. He is forced to defend Nakamura, a Kempeitai torturer (played by Sugie Phua) in court. At a time when things were heated, and people were still hurt from the actions of the Kempeitai, remaining objective towards his client was not the only struggle that Dennis faced during the trial as he had to find the balance between dealing with the public’s anger, and Nakamura’s refusal to talk.
June (played by Rebecca Lim) is a sharp-witted legal clerk at d’Almeida and d’Almeida who hides a dark secret. In the very first scene, which turns out to be a flash-forward, we see June confronting someone. The juxtaposition of her aggression in the scene against her usual disposition signals something much bigger than what is presented to the audience. The flashbacks and PTSD episodes that are triggered reveal bits and pieces of June’s experience, and the air of mystery draws you into the story slowly, but surely.
Another enthralling plotline that brings the characters together is the story of Mariam, which is a nod to Maria Hertogh. Elly Gaskell plays Mariam, a British girl adopted by Ahmad (played by Joe Jasmi) and his late wife Siti after her parents had passed on during the war. Her aunt Emma (played by Shona Benson) has been searching for her since the end of the war and, after finding her, is adamant about bringing her home to England. Mariam, on the other hand, is firm in wanting to stay with her adoptive family. The insistence from both parties on Mariam’s custodianship makes it incredibly exhilarating for us to see how this story unfolds. Whether history will repeat itself in this series, or things will take a shocking turn, we will have to stay tuned to find out.
A Mix of Cultures
Something interesting to note is that although the show is presented mainly in English, different languages are spoken by the main characters. The characters are a mix of the different races in Singapore, and it is a unique experience to hear the different mother tongues spoken in one show. Despite the show taking place in the ’40s, it emphasises the fact that Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. Locally produced dramas focus on promoting racial and religious harmony, as well as celebrating the country’s culture and heritage, This Land is Mine really brings out the importance of racial unity.
With different storylines that all twist together beautifully, This Land is Mine is riveting and deliciously intriguing. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you yearning for the next episode. It is definitely worth a watch, especially if you are a history junkie!
This Land is Mine is now available on meWATCH.