Indonesia’s Fights for Freedom on Screen
The celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day is finally here. Red and white flags are raised, and citizens are joining in the festivities.
But, if participating in a cracker-eating competition is not your thing, how about taking a peek at some of Indonesia’s war of independence movies — they could be great companions for your day off.
Merah Putih (Trilogy)
A trilogy about Indonesia’s fight for freedom.
Merah Putih is the story of a fictional troop of freedom fighters who come from a different class, ethnicity and religion. However despite their differences they band together fighting as a group of guerrillas to survive enemy attacks.
The main characters are cadets: Amir (Lukman Sardi), a Muslim teacher, Marius (Darius Sinathrya) and Soerono (Zumi Zola) the Javanese elite, Dayan (T. Rifnu Wikana) a Hindu from Bali and Tomas (Donny Alamsyah) a Christian farmer from North Sulawesi.
Directed by acclaimed director Yadi Sugandi, the first installment “Merah Putih: Trilogi Merdeka” (“Red and White: Freedom Trilogy”) was released in 2009.
It’s a compelling watch, thanks to the gripping story-line with its Hollywood-quality special effects by award-winning special effects coordinator Adam Howarth, known for his work in Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down.
The action scenes are perfect thanks to the guidance of stunt coordinator Rocky McDonald, who has worked in Mission Impossible II.
Part two, “Merah Putih: Darah Garuda” (“Red and White: Blood of the Eagle”) continued the guerilla war in its 2010 release.
The final installment “Merah Putih: Hati Merdeka” (“Red and White: Hearts of Freedom”) with its focus on naval warfare and internal conflicts was launched in June this year.
Kereta Api Terakhir (The Last Train) – 1981
This movie revolves around the violation of Perjanjian Linggarjati (Linggarjati Agreement) by the Dutch.
Signed in 1946, the agreement stated the Dutch would depart Indonesia by January 1, 1949 and acknowledged Indonesia’s territories included Java, Madura and Sumatra.
However, in 1947, the Dutch performed an about-turn and launched a military attack on Java and Sumatra.
As its tale illustrates, the movie highlights the journey of the last train of freedom fighters from Purwokerto station to Yogyakarta.
Janur Kuning (Yellow Coconut Leaf) – 1979
“Janur Juning” tells the story of the infamous Serangan Umum 1 Maret (The Attack of March 1, 1949) in Yogyakarta.
Its title hails from the symbolic yellow coconut leaves used to symbolize the fight against colonization.
The movie highlights the battle during the Dutch’s attack of Maguwo airfield and the re-occupation of Yogyakarta led by former president Soeharto.
With its seasoned Indonesian actors including Kaharudin Syah, Deddy Sutomo, Dicky Zulkarnaen, Amak Baldjun and Sutopo H.S, this movie is one to watch.
Pasukan Berani Mati (Death Squad) – 1982
This movie portrays Indonesia’s revolution, a conflict which became heated when a battalion led by Captain Bondan (Dicky Zulkarnaen), was attacked by the Dutch, leaving the captain dead.
Six surviving soldiers from the battalion decided to form a death squad.
To win the battle and also to avenge their captain’s murder, the squad carried out a counter-attack to the Dutch headquarter — paying the price with their lives.
Bandung Lautan Api (Bandung, The Sea of Fire) - 1974
Made in 1974, the movie is set during the famous burning of Bandung on March 24, 1946.
In just seven hours, hundreds of thousands of the city’s residents burned their houses and left the city in order to prevent the Dutch from seizing the city.
With the appearance of two famous names Dicky Zulkarnaen and Christine Hakim, the movie is certainly not just about war, but also about a love story between a red cross nurse Nani and Commander Hidayat.
Perawan Di Sektor Selatan (Maiden in the Southern Sector) – 1971
“Perawan Di Sektor Selatan” revolves around a character named Laura played by Farida Oetoyo.
Disappointed by the guerrilla fighters Laura turns her back on her nation and sides with the Dutch enemy.
Becoming a spy and Laura subsequently infiltrates a troop, led by Captain Wira (Kusno Sudjarwadi).
Laura successfully causes conflict within the troop and helps the Dutch find a way in.
Upon learning her disguise has been uncovered Laura runs away to her tragic death.