A Look Into the Past

History buffs, look no further – this article compiles historical documentaries at once informative and intriguing.

Written by: Chong Tien Ee (20-E6), Zhao Keyang (19-I1), Wong Siew Yee (19-O3), Lim Junheng, Jovan (20-O5) 

Watching documentaries, which are sources of information, can be an excellent way to understand more about the world, especially about our collective history. Chronologically, these documentaries highlight how much our world has changed but also the timelessness of themes such as leadership and humanity. While some documentaries can be an absolute bore, we have collated some historical ones that we think are worth a watch.

From platforms such as YouTube and Netflix, these documentaries are rated out of ten for their technicality, entertainment and educational values and their emotional impact on the audience. So sit back, enjoy our recommendations and take a break from your preparations for Promos, Prelims or editing your Project Work drafts!


Figure 1: 12 Best Documentaries on Hulu (Town&Country)


Lost Worlds: Persia’s Forgotten Empire


Figure 2: Ancient Rulers of Persia,
The Temple of Jerusalem Is Dedicated by King Darius. (ThoughtCo)

The Persian Empire, one of the least known ancient civilizations, spanned from the sixth century B.C. to the twentieth century B.C. The capital of this empire was Persepolis, which was left forgotten after being destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.

This documentary transports viewers to an archeological site in Southern Iran, where the ruins of the once great city now lay. Using conventional re-enactments, anecdotes of archaeological discovery and computer graphics, the documentary re-imagines Persepolis in its full glory and brings the city back to life right before the viewers’ eyes. Interviews with archeologists and other experts are a big part of this documentary and it is certainly educational to hear from the people who understand this topic remarkably well and have done extensive research into the Persian empire. 

Educational value: 8/10

The documentary’s interesting approach certainly makes it a worthy watch, although its graphics are not the clearest due to the fact that it originally aired in 2002. One highlight of the documentary was when a connection was established between the past and the present as the filmmakers visited a modern Bazaar and examined products that would have been a part of people’s lives in the Persian Empire.

Entertainment value:  6/10

Though dull and monotonous at times, the documentary is incredibly informative and one can learn almost everything about Persepolis, from its grand infrastructure to the everyday lives of its people. With the attention to detail and captivating perspective, this documentary has certainly achieved its educational purpose of providing insight into the history of Persepolis. 

Technicality: 5/10, Emotional impact: 5/10, Overall score: 6/10


China’s Forgotten Emperor


Figure 3: Fan Bingbing as Wu Zetian from a 2014 Chinese serial drama (Medium)

Empress Wu Zetian, also known as Empress Consort Wu, is recognised as one of the most prominent characters in China’s history. Ruling the Tang dynasty as Empress from 655 A.D. to 690 A.D. and as Emperor for 15 years, the Tang Empire prospered under her rule.

The film features economic prosperity in the Tang dynasty through aesthetic visual shots of China’s land, coupled with beautiful aerial shots of China’s sacred mountains.

Technicality: 6/10

However, as a woman serving the position of a male dominated role, many accused Empress Wu of ruining the empire, and her achievements were denigrated. This documentary explores new narratives on events during her rule in hopes of reversing the negatively portrayed image of China’s only female emperor. With hands-on investigations and access to the treasures of the Empress’ time, this film aims to give a definitive answer to the question: was Empress Wu really an evil tyrant or one of the most successful rulers in all Chinese history? 

Entertainment value: 6/10, Educational value: 7/10

Overall, the documentary gives a refreshing perspective on Empress Wu’s reign and offers a different perspective to her regime, highlighting her skills as a female politician and also the cruelties performed during that time. This documentary gives viewers insight into many artefacts that were used during her reign and the stories behind them. What we find most interesting about this documentary is that it includes small snippets of re-enacted scenes to allow the audience to immerse themselves in the past, which helps to retain the attention of the audience as the content might be dry at times. 

Emotional impact: 5/10, Overall score: 6/10


Last of the Tsars


Figure 4: Depiction of Russian Tsar Monarchy (American Affairs Journal)

“Last of the Tsars” documents the events that led up to the fall of the Russian Tsar; the documentary unveils the truth behind this fall by looking back on the events leading up to it. It covers a wide range of topics, including the Romanovs who ruled Russia and their contributions to the country, as well as key events in Russian history. Additionally, it includes case studies of those who witnessed the series of events that ended in the demise of the Romanov family. This documentary was extensive in its description of events that happened during the reign of Nicholas Romanov, while including the opinions of historians who examined the Romanovs’ long history. 

Educational value: 9/10

The documentary includes clips and pictures from events that occurred during the Tsar’s reign, one of which was the Khodynka Tragedy, which took place on the 18th of May. The coverage of the arrival of Gregory Rasputin, a man shrouded in mystery, and his involvement with the Tsar made the documentary all the more compelling.

Entertainment value:  6/10

Overall, the documentary is comprehensive and extremely thorough when explaining the history of that particular period in Russia, giving viewers clear understanding. The inclusion of various case studies added on to the rich analysis of what contributed and led to the fall of the Tsar. 

Technicality: 5/10, Emotional impact: 5/10, Overall score: 7/10


Power’s War


Figure 5: Picture from Power’s War (HistoryNet)

In 1918, a group of four law enforcers would travel to an isolated cabin belonging to Jeff Power in Arizona to apprehend two draft dodgers, Power’s sons, John and Tom. What should have been a rather harmless event escalated into one of the deadliest shootouts in Arizona’s history. The documentary “Power’s War” examines the reasons behind the shootout and the events preceding the tragic incident.

Through interviews with historians, newspaper clippings, personal accounts and journal entries, the documentary paints a complete and vivid picture of the event. At its core, the documentary highlights the rights of the individual and its relationship with the authority of the government; it discusses this and attempts to address the issue, which is one that is relevant in today’s context–the mask problem America currently faces comes to mind.

Entertainment value: 8/10, Educational value: 9/10

Notably, the documentary has won many awards, most prominently the title of Best Documentary Feature in the Logan Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize in the 2015 Anthem Film Festival. The documentary stands out with its unique way of portraying events, opting for striking animations instead of live-action re-enactments. This unquestionably refreshing approach sets this documentary apart from more conventional ones, while still maintaining sombreness and presenting events with dignity. This documentary is definitely worth a watch. 

Technicality:  9/10, Emotional impact: 7/10, Overall score: 8/10


Victims of the Nazi Twin Experiment 


Figure 6: A group of child survivors behind a barbed wire fence at Auschwitz-Birkenau, on the day of the camp’s liberation on January 27, 1945. Twins Eva and Miriam Mozes are pictured on the far right. (HISTORY)

Led by physician Josef Mengele, better known as the “Angel of Death”, a massive, inhumane medical experimentation program that subjected over 1500 pairs of twins to disease, disfigurement and torture under the guise of medical “research” was conducted at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“Victims of the Nazi Twin Experiment” describes what conspired in the Nazi twin experiment and tells the story of Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of the Nazi twin experiment, who wanted to get to the bottom of what Mengele has done to her in Aushwitz. It also shows viewers how Eva proceeds to shed light on the events of the Holocaust. 

Foremost, the documentary covers Adolf Hitler’s rule in Europe, the expulsion of Jews that evolved into murder, the implementation of concentration camps and the motive behind the Nazi twin experiment. It depicts Eva’s struggles during and even after Auschwitz as she pushes for the investigation of Mengele. However, she comes to forgive the Nazis and opened the CANDLES’ museum dedicated to the victims of the Nazi twin experiment. The documentary ends by mentioning her impact in society as she advocated forgiveness.

Entertainment value: 7/10, Educational value: 8/10

A sobering reality was presented in how the survivors’ lives were heavily influenced by Auschwitz even after they managed to escape. The depicted plight of the concentration camp victims evokes sympathy in viewers, such as the start of the documentary when Eva stepped into present-day Auschwitz and recounted her painful past experiences. Through Eva’s point-of-view, viewers can better understand and sympathise with her predicament. Ultimately, the documentary highlights to viewers the virtue of forgiveness as Eva comes to terms with her experiences.

Technicality: 6/10, Emotional impact: 9/10, Overall score: 8/10


The Real Chernobyl


Figure 7: Workers trying to clear radioactive debris (The Atlantic)

April 26, 1986. A time never forgotten by the masses. “The Real Chernobyl” examines the disaster that still imparts a poignant memory to many, one that is unsettling and eternal. This documentary includes recounts of the few who lived to tell the tale, mainly that of Sergei Parashin, former Deputy Director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, while not forgetting the other witnesses like safety officers, truck drivers and even the miners who sacrificed and gave their all in order to serve the nation and prevent the aggravation of the tragedy.

The film relays a message of the truths behind the catastrophe, for they were hidden behind the shroud of secrecy of the Soviet government. In addition, the film is interspersed with clips from the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl”, which provides a detailed depiction comparable to the calamity more than three decades ago.

Entertainment value: 6/10, Educational value: 9/10

The cinematography captures scenes of the now contaminated and abandoned ghost town of Pripyat, while the witnesses share their experiences within the ruins of the city where recollections of life were lost in the mists of time. “It’s some kind of a return… to a future unfulfilled.” With the supplement of impressive camerawork, tense music and first-hand accounts of the destruction, this untold story once carpeted beneath lies is greatly represented in this documentary.

Technicality: 8/10

The Chernobyl disaster saw 350,000 people forced to leave their homes, and while this figure is not fully representative of the devastations of the disaster, it serves as a chilling and disconcerting reminder of the horrors that once were.

Emotional impact: 9/10, Overall score: 8/10

With review of “The Real Chernobyl”, we have come to an end of our review of some of the documentaries that we found insightful, entertaining and emotionally impactful. The picture below is a summary of our personal thoughts on the different documentaries discussed!
That said, these scores are merely our personal opinions—you might feel differently. We strongly recommend all of our readers to check out these documentaries for yourselves!


A Look Into The Past (edited) - Google Docs - Google Chrome 8_13_2020 9_20_33 PM.png

Figure 8: Tally of all the scores of the documentaries


Where to Watch these Intriguing Documentaries:

Links to “Last of the Tsars”: 




Link to “Victims of the Nazi twin experiment”:

Link to “The Secrets Of The Lost Persian Empire”:

Link to “Power’s War”:

Link to “China’s forgotten emperor”:

Link to “The Real Chernobyl”:


Spotlights at Twilight

Humour? Emotional performances? EJ Drama’s got it all in their in-house production – ‘Family: A Work in Progress’. Find out more in ‘Spotlights at Twilight’.

Written by: Athena Lim (19-A4)

Designed by: Athena Lim (19-A4)

Under the dimming daylight, a small booth was being set up at the Atria. This was Drama’s in-house production, titled ‘Family: A Work in Progress’.

A small queue of people formed to collect their refreshments for the night, before heading for the stone tables outside LT1, where rows of chairs were arranged. As seats filled up, illuminated only by the amber glow of the lamp and fairy lights, the scene was set before us: a wheelchair-ridden grandmother and her daughter. A flash of the spotlight and the audience fell silent, as the play came to life. ‘Imperfect Family Recipes’, follows a family of three: a once sprightly grandmother left paralysed by a stroke, an exhausted mother, and a busy grandson tied to a family recipe for soy sauce chicken doomed to be lost. Behind the barrier of Grandmother’s stroke-slurred speech were her dreams and inner thoughts, a representation of communication, and the evolution of a family over time. This was a performance of raw emotions, exemplified by the cosy lighting and masterful audio effects that truly brought the play to life before us.

And just like that, the first play came to a close. In a playful twist of continuity, we were shepherded to the Dance Studio, with a cheerful invitation of ‘Curry puffs cold already!’ This was ‘In the Repair Shop’: two teenagers yearning for independence, with two different family dynamics. With the ever relatable topic of parent and child relationships, this play showcased different family dynamics, between judgemental and overprotective parents. Ultimately, though, this play was a heartwarming one, reaching a beautiful understanding between parent and child.

When we emerged from the dance studio, the sky had turned dark, and we were led to the amphitheatre. This was ‘Waste’, the last play of the day. We were rapidly eased into the setting – Peter Lee, a tour guide giving tours about Singapore’s waste management, humourously poking fun at his job: like a ‘tape recorder liddat: just press play’, and even breaking the fourth wall to acknowledge the subtitles. This humour gave way to the internal conflict about his familial relationships, manifesting as the personalities of his (ex) wife and his (deceased) mother. Through flashbacks and the seamless blend of humourous and poignant moments, the play eventually came to a melancholic conclusion.

Overall, this performance was certainly one not to be missed – pushing the boundaries of performance, and pulling together stunning acting and effects, for a night of entertainment that’s worth the time!

Splash of Sound: A Band Concert Review

Don’t miss our review of the Red Dot concert, the latest collaboration between EJC Symphonic Band and the Philharmonic Youth!

Written by: Dillon Phang (19-I4), Lee Keng Yan (19-U1), Aloysius Tng (19-U4)

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)

As the sun set on the Singapore River, two bands ascended Esplanade’s Outdoor Theatre as one. EJC Symphonic Band, together with the Philharmonic Youth, took to the stage on 10th August, and produced yet another magical night, full of nostalgia and promises.


A wide array of uniquely Singaporean songs were performed over three sets of performances. Each set varied a little from the others, giving the audience a unique experience in each one.  They performed a Xinyao Medley, a mix of popular Xinyao classics to create a beautiful piece exemplifying the beauty of Xinyao songs.  The songs used in their own rendition contained the songs 细水长流, 你是我的唯, 人生如梦,说时依旧,恋之憇 and 我们这一班. Upbeat, smooth and evocative of the long Chinese tradition, woodwinds and percussion were featured prominently in this song and created something undoubtedly Singaporean. Other hit Chinese songs such as 小人物的心声 and 城里的月光 were also performed, the former featuring Mr Ralph Lim as a clarinet soloist, while the latter featured EJC Band president Leslie Yip, with a saxophone solo. Both improvised, with Leslie mixing the McDonalds theme song into his solo while Mr Lim played Careless Whisper, a popular song by Wham! Both put up spectacular performances, if the audience’s standing ovation at the end of their songs had anything to say. Bunga Sayang or “Flower of the Heart”, another classic composed by Dick Lee, was also played, being one of the few performed across all three sets. It has a gentle melody which fills one with nostalgia, and despite being an old song, still remains popular today and had been reinvented for SG50 and starred in Mediacorp’s new television series, Fried Rice Paradise. Several of the most memorable National Day Parade Theme songs were also played, including Stand Up for Singapore by Hugh Harrison, Where I Belong by Tanya Chua, and We Will Get There by Stefanie Sun, each from the years 1984, 2001, and 2002, respectively. 

These songs are among some of the most renowned NDP songs and has become a staple for every national day. Reminiscent of the early days of Singapore and the long, hard road to success, EJC Band perfectly captured this enduring spirit in their performance. At the finale of the performance, the band performed Home, by Kit Chan, the NDP theme song of 1998. The crowd sang along, while waving their flash on their phones to the tune. The scene was simply amazing, to see everyone in the crowd joining in along to the song we all know and love. We were enthralled by the performance, and the passion of the crowd. 


After that night of music, we approached the aforementioned Leslie Yip (19-I4), who featured in the performance for his thoughts about the experience. 


“It was an honour to work with such a wonderful group of musicians from Phil(harmonics) Youth!” The Band president profused when asked about their collaboration with the more experienced group of musicians. He felt that the Symphonic Band had learnt a lot from their time together, from their initial meeting, preparation, and then performance as one unit.  With regards to Mr Lionel Lye’s participation, the saxophonist recalled his initial surprise upon learning the current Acting Dean of JC1’s proficiency with the saxophone, and expressed his gratitude towards Mr Lye’s support in playing alongside the Band.


The Esplanade Outdoor Theatre was a new stage in more ways than one for the Symphonic Band. “This was our first external performance without our seniors around, so it was definitely challenging.” Leslie commented. Yet the Symphonic Band stepped up, and showed no signs of hesitation even in front of the unfamiliar public audience. The Band President was evidently quite proud of this, especially since the Band had an incredibly short time to prepare for this milestone event. Even the less experienced musicians, he felt, had pushed through the challenge with pride and determination, displaying great competency in the performance. For him, the Band has once again proven itself a place he is proud to call home.


This time, the Band took one step further into the public eye. We continue to listen eagerly for their future performances, and for the splash they’ll make on the local scene. Happy National Day, Happy belated 54th birthday Singapore! “This is home, truly”. 

Floating, Falling, Sweet Intoxication: A Review of the Phantom of the Opera

Find out what makes BASE Entertainment’s The Phantom of the Opera mesmerizing to the point of no return in this review. That’s all we ask of you.

Written by: Beverly Tan (19-E3)

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)


Performed for over 140 million people in 35 countries, The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful musicals produced of all time. BASE Entertainment brought this renowned musical to our shores from 24 April to 8 June, and on 18 May, I watched this production with my classmates as part of our Aesthetics Concert Experience (ACE).


The Phantom of the Opera musical is adapted from a novel of the same name by French author, Gaston Leroux. A mysterious figure, known as the Phantom, takes a young soprano, Christine Daae, under his tutelage. The Phantom’s obsession with Christine snowballs into jealousy, causing the eventually horrific happenings in the Paris Opera House, to the abject horror of the staff of the opera house.


(A) Theatrical Effects

Despite the constraints of performing on a much smaller stage, the production fully utilised the space to perform. Due to the size of the stage, some memorable effects in other productions could not be used, such as the infamous chandelier crash. Nevertheless, the props used were intricately designed and one could tell that the set designers put in a lot of effort into their work. The lighting was more than appropriate and enhanced many of the scenes, like the Phantom’s eerie lair and the roof of the opera house.


(B) Cast

The characters generally had very good chemistry, especially Raoul and Christine. Raoul, Christine’s childhood friend and later fiance, is usually written off by many viewers as a bland character, who’s got it all as a rich, good-for-nothing aristocrat. Surprisingly, in this production, Raoul is a much more believable character and his chemistry with Christine in “All I Ask Of You” is palpable. Kudos to Matt Leisy! Jonathan Roxmouth’s performance as the Phantom was mesmerising. His rendition of “Music of the Night” was amazing, perhaps even comparable to renowned interpretations by Michael Crawford. The performer whom I think should be given the most credit is Meghan Picerno, who portrayed Christine. Christine’s songs are a challenge for most singers because the notes are not only high but also sustained. Picerno manages to hit these notes without sounding flat most of the time, which is a mean feat for a singer. As a viewer in the 21st century, I found the Phantom of the Opera problematic in the way women were depicted, particularly Christine who was shown to be very submissive to the men around her, particularly the Phantom. However, Picerno’s Christine is a character with a lot of willpower and bravery, indeed much more so, compared to previous portrayals. Detractors who prefer a more naive and innocent portrayal or Christine may not have liked this slightly different interpretation.


(C) Music

One word: enthralling. Just like previous productions, this performance did not fail to captivate our hearts and minds. The opening theme was highly effective in foreshadowing and conveying the mysteriousness and grandeur of the Paris Opera House. Hit songs like ‘All I ask of You’, ‘Think of Me’ and ‘Masquerade’ were performed with much gusto, revealing the chemistry the cast had. The orchestra and performers certainly lived up to the high standards set by previous Phantom productions.


(D) Other Eunoians’ Reviews


“It was a very memorable experience as the actors and actresses conveyed the emotions of the songs fully and their vocals were very mesmerising throughout the play. My favourite part is the opening scene as the unexpected glowing of the chandelier, accompanied by the theme song, really set the mood for the entire play” – Kaethe Fok, 19-E3


“It was a good production, but we couldn’t see much from where we were sitting. Facial expressions weren’t visible from the back, but the production was dynamic. Props and backstage crew were good, taking little time to change set. The use of lighting was creative and value-added to the story.” – Roan Ng, 19-E3



To sum it up, BASE Entertainment’s The Phantom of the Opera was worth the money spent and I highly recommend it. Shoutout to my class, 19-E3, for accompanying me to watch the musical. It was a blast! Lastly, thank you to Roan and Kaethe for the reviews.



30 Second Reviews – Serenade with violinist So Young Yoon

Known for her momentous performance during the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition when she tackled two insanely challenging Violin concertos (Sibelius D Minor and Wieniawski F# Minor) in a single night, Korean-born Violinist So Young Yoon dazzled Singaporeans with her performance of Bernstein’s Serenade. Together with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Yoon began the first movement with much sensitivity. She brought out the tenderness of the melody through carefully calibrated bow handling. The second, third and fourth movements were executed with perfect intonation and technical expertise. It was the fifth movement, perhaps the most well known to the trained classical musician, that brought the house down. When the Timpani’s death knell resounded with a crash, Yoon raced with the orchestra with fire in her eyes. With a swish of her bow across the string, the movement was brought to a climatic end.

As shouts of ‘Bravo!” erupted from the audience, I could not help but marvel at her effortless performance and wonder about the hours she had put into her practice.

What stops Yoon from achieving the same success as other acclaimed violinists like Sarah Chang, Janine Jansen puzzles me. Perhaps it is a matter of time and luck? 

Picture credit: Official Henryk Wieniawski Competition site

Grace Marie Yeh

30 Second Reviews – Band Fiesta

Beginning this segment of 30s Reviews…

A mundane evening in the botanical gardens was transformed by a resounding performance by the EJC symphonic band. Within the span of 2 hours, park-goers basking on the lawn by the Shaw Symphony stage, were treated to classic pop hits like Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You and a medley of Taylor Swift classics from her 1989 album. Conducted by the experienced maestro Adrian Chiang, the band, although consisting of many first-timers, pulled off an undeniably mesmerising performance. From the jovial upbeat pace of Shape of You, the groovy beat of Despacito, to the seamless transitions between Blank Space and Shake It Off, the performance was worthy of a standing ovation. Although marred by technical inadequacies of the speakers, the evening was a pleasant end to a hectic week.

Grace Marie Yeh


¿?sick beats?¿

Tired of hearing the same old songs over and over again? Here are some selected tunes as recommended by Eunoians! Each week, we publish 8 of our favourite submissions under our monthly playlist. Want to suggest a song? Click here! Thank you to everyone who have submitted a song suggestion, and be sure to hit us up if you want to see your songs on next month’s playlist! Check out this month’s playlist here.

  1. Europe – The Final Countdown
    Genre: Metal, Rock
    A multi-purpose song, it will hype you up on a slow day with its heavy beats. A classic 80s rock song. 9/10. (Suggested by Ethan & Willy, 18-U3)
  2. Kodaline – Brother
    Genre: Indie Pop
    This song is sure to hit you hard with a heavy dose of feelings. With its compelling and emotional lyrics, Brother is surely a 11/10. (Suggested by Voan, 18-U5)
  3. The Goo Goo Dolls – Iris
    Genre: Alternative Rock
    A mood booster, and again, more feelings. Iris is more on the soft 90s pop side, although some may find it a little more generic. 8/10. (Suggested by Marilyn, 18-A3)
  4. Alan Walker – All Falls Down (feat. Noah Cyrus with Digital Farm Animals)
    Genre: Pop
    It’s your generic pop song that starts off slow and rocks bass drops in the middle. It will surely hype you up on a sleepy day, and get your adrenaline pumping for the gym. 8/10. (Suggested by Cheryl, 18-E5)
  5. Martin Garrix, Dua Lipa – Scared To Be Lonely
    Genre: EDM, Future bass
    As expected, this song largely comprises of electronic sounds. It’ll help you to focus when studying, good for gyming, mood booster, chill vibes. Again, generic trendy pop song, starts of slow, bass drops during chorus. 8/10. (Suggested by Tze Yuen, 18-I3)
  6. OneRepublic – I Lived
    Genre: Pop
    Good solid rhythm, pumps you up. Brings good feels™ . 9/10. (Suggested by Wee Kai, 18-A6)
  7. Paradise Fears – Battle scars
    Genre: Alternative Rock, Indie
    A mood booster, uplifting and heartful song. Definitely unique. 10/10. (Suggested by Jared, 18-U4)Bonus personal recommendation:
  8. Florence + The Machine – Sky Full Of Song
    Genre: Baroque Pop, Alternative Indie
    Review: Pure vocals. 10/10.