A Review: 'In Time To Come' by Tan Pin Pin

The opening of a time capsule in Singapore calls into question connections to time and place

By Zhen Yin

October 7 2018

Having been described as a film that ‘invites the viewers to dream’, the latest experimental documentary piece ‘In Time To Come’ directed by Tan Pin Pin lulls you softly through her own personal fascination with time capsules and the red dot’s routines and rituals on the big screen. Featuring the start and opening of multiple time capsules, it makes the viewer question what really is worth preserving from the passage of time: a now-defunct Yellow Pages book from the past? Or a glass-bottled water that seems unassuming until you read the label that says the water contained was taken from the Singapore River in 1990.

‘In Time To Come’ opens with a series of scenes that’s definitely going to be a joy for those who like to observe or ‘people watch’. The long, uninterrupted takes that was recorded in real time allows just enough time for the viewers to take in the little details, and imagine what’s going on behind each and every person that catches your attention within the screen. Such scenes include a huge group of people kayaking leisurely at perhaps a reservoir, flag raising ceremonies occurring before the most dreaded ‘silent reading’ sessions during school and many others that will strike a definite chord with viewers who were born and raised in Singapore for the entirety of their lives.

A post-screening Q&A held also revealed that the director sees this as a call and opportunity for future generations to deduce and conclude the purpose behind the routines depicted on the big screen. She mentions as an example that perhaps, looking at a snippet of the fumigation exercise makes the future generation think that the entire country is being fumigated. Tan Pin Pin hopes that viewers who have already seen it can actually look back on this film several decades from now on and enjoy it (I’d like to compare it as that feeling you get when you find old things in the process of cleaning up your room!). Looking at how I personally got sparked into thinking about my own personal experiences with flag raising ceremonies and other similar rituals depicted in the film, I can definitely see that her statement will ring true in the not-so-near future.

Viewing the film on the big screen that’s accompanied with an impeccable surround sound system is definitely a must. Because to watch the film simply from the confines of your smart gadgets and earpiece is to deny yourself from having the full experience that’s further enhanced by sound designer Lim Ting Li.

But a word of caution for those who have watched Tan Pin Pin’s previous work such as Singapore GaGa (2005), Invisible City (2007) and the most prominent To Singapore, With Love (2013); this particular piece varies completely differently from what the director has done before, so come view this with a reflective,meditative and most importantly, an open mind.

‘In Time To Come’ is still available for viewing at Filmgarde Bugis+. For more information on tickets and screen timings click here!