Review of film Merah Putih, evil colonialists & brave patriots.
As promised, a review of Merah Putih, which we viewed in the Wednesday late-night screening, barely fifty people in the audience, at Bioskop Slipi.
As you'd expect from a country which, despite its constant troubles and endless disappointments, maintains a healthy national pride, (and in contrast to American and a lot of other Western countries where one's own armed forces are often cast as fools, villains or worse) the film is unashamedly patriotic, and the Dutch depicted as almost Luciferian in their wickedness. (My resident Indonesian consultant was only moved to comment once,
during one of the first Netherlands atrocities. I don't doubt they were no angels, but history suggests that every side in every war contained a fair sprinkling of sinners, and saints)
Apart from the satanic Hollanders, the least likeable character is the posh twerp Marius, (Darius Sinathrya) who looks down on just about everyone and gets straight on the case of the feisty Christian Tomas, (Donny Alamsyah), while to provide some sentiment of pancasila we have the Hindu Dayan (Rifnu Wikana) and a serious honourable Muslim named Amir (Lukman Sardi) as well as an all-purpose nationalist, Soerono (Zumi Zola).
They all join up, fall in, fall out and ultimately redeem themselves, predictable, I suppose, but full of action and heroism.
The ladies play important but lesser roles, Melati, Amir's pregnant wife (Astri Nurdin) and Soerono's sister (Rahayu Saraswati) - again unlike western movies, these actresses rely on their talent rather than having their boobs flop out or a quickie every time the action slows down, which it rarely does, the grand finale being an ambush, the depleted handful of Indonesian soldiers re-inforced by the male survivors of a village burned and massacred by the evil Dutch.
One wishes that the imbecilic louts who ran amok in South Jakarta on Hari Kemerdekaan could use the heroic characters portrayed in this movie as their role models, rather than whomsoever they have chosen from gang-banger US crime yarns.
Whatever the short-comings of the men who fought for self-determination, (and I'm not talking about those who surfaced at the end and claimed the political credit), they were brave and idealistic, as well as patriotic, qualities that appear to be as lacking in the ruling class today as in the afore-mentioned louts near Blok M earlier this week.