Singapore Film Locations Archive

‘A Coco-nut Plantation in Singapore’ & ‘Pineapple Industry’ (1910)

Short travel ‘actuality’ films

Silent

English title: A Coco-nut Tree Plantation in Singapore
Produced by Pathé Frères
Year of release: 1910
Film Locations: Coconut plantations

Original film title in French: Récolte et préparation des ananas
English title: Pineapple Industry (or ‘Harvesting and Preparation of Pineapple’)
Produced by Pathé Frères
Year of release: 1910
Film Locations: Pineapple plantations in Nee Soon, Sembawang, or in the vicinity of Sungei Seletar?

The National Film Archive Catalogue Part II (published by the British Film Institute, 1960) lists two films produced by French film company Pathé Frères that feature the fruit plantation industry in Singapore, during the first decade of the 20th century. They were essentially meant to be short (educational) travel films shown to a Western audience – filmic representations of tours to the European-colonised tropics at the other end of the world; distanced “gazes” into a lucrative, export-oriented plantation enterprise driven by colonial trade links and immigrant labour (especially from India and China). What could be a more exotic experience than watching “native” workers picking and processing the strange, tropical fruits – coconuts (to make copra) and pineapples?

The two Pathé Frères films shot in Singapore’s fruit plantations were:

1. A Coco-nut Tree Plantation in Singapore
Boys collecting the nuts from the trees; they are formed into rafts and poled down river; the outer shells is thrashed and softened and removed to make fibre; the pulp, now called copra, is removed, packed and weighed; a native market for the sale of coco-nut oil. (437 feet)
Reference: Bioscope, February 10, 1910, p. 55.

 

02a-Coconut-Plantation-Singapore-1940-map2

 

 

2. Pineapple Industry
The pineapples are unloaded from a cart in the street; their ends are chopped off; they are loaded into baskets and removed by coolies. The husks are removed, the fruit chopped up and placed in cans; each can is filled with syrup, soldered, labelled and packed. The whole process is completely by native labour, presumably in Singapore. The last shot shows a European woman sampling the finished product. (286 feet)
Reference: Bioscope, 12 (252), August 10, 1911, suppl. p. iii.

 

03-Pineapple-Plantations-Sungei-Seletar04-Sungei-Seletar-Kiri-2015-By-Hun-Ping205-Sungei-Seletar-Kiri-2015-By-Hun-Ping206-Bah-Soon-Pah-Rd-2015-By-Hun-Ping 07-Bah-Soon-Pah-Rd-2015-By-Hun-Ping

 

Both A Coco-nut Plantation in Singapore and Pineapple Industry are in the collection of the British Film Institute (BFI) and the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé’:
http://collections-search.bfi.org.uk/web/Details/ChoiceFilmWorks/150017006
http://collections-search.bfi.org.uk/web/Details/ChoiceFilmWorks/150389393
http://filmographie.fondation-jeromeseydoux-pathe.com/7418-recolte-et-preparation-des-ananas

 

Further Reading:
1. Lorenzo Codelli (ed.), World Film Locations: Singapore. Bristol: Intellect Books, 2014.
2. RÉCOLTE ET PRÉPARATION DES ANANAS. ‘Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire’ website. [www.colonialfilm.org.uk/node/4630]

Digitized Map:
Federated Malay States. Survey Department, Singapore and Johore, National Library of Australia, MAP G8040 1935. [http://nla.gov.au/nla.map-vn382576]

Photographs:
© 2015 Toh Hun Ping

 

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