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Indonesian cinema film

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By Moharif YuliantoPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Indonesian cinema film
Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

Stepping into the realm of Indonesian cinema, a recent film that deserves recognition is "Autobiography" (2023) by Makbul Mubarak. This psychological thriller delves into the complexities of trauma, memory, and political violence in post-Suharto Indonesia.

A Haunted Past:

The film follows Rakib (Lukman Sardi), a former soldier returning to his isolated hometown after years working in Europe. He visits his childhood home, now abandoned and overgrown, a stark symbol of his troubled past. Rakib is haunted by memories of violence and a traumatic incident involving his commanding officer, Puro (Arswendy Bening Swara).

A Shadowy Figure:

Puro, now a seemingly reformed religious leader, has gained significant influence in the community. Their encounter sparks unease, and Rakib grapples with buried memories. The film masterfully portrays the psychological torment Rakib endures as the past resurfaces, blurring the lines between reality and his unreliable memories.

More Than a Personal Story:

"Autobiography" transcends a simple revenge narrative. It serves as an allegory for Indonesia's struggle to confront its past. The Suharto regime, notorious for human rights abuses, remains a sensitive topic. The film subtly explores themes of impunity, societal amnesia, and the search for truth in the face of a collective silence.

Visual Storytelling:

The film utilizes a visually striking style to enhance the unsettling atmosphere. Long, lingering shots capture the desolate beauty of the rural landscape, juxtaposed with the claustrophobic interiors of Rakib's childhood home. The use of muted colors and stark shadows creates a sense of unease and reflects the characters' inner turmoil.

Haunting Soundscapes:

The film's sound design plays a crucial role in building suspense. The constant chirping of crickets and the echoing silence add to the film's unsettling atmosphere. The sparse use of music only heightens tension during key moments, amplifying the emotional impact.

A Performance-Driven Experience:

"Autobiography" hinges on the phenomenal performances of its central cast. Lukman Sardi delivers a nuanced portrayal of Rakib, a man haunted by his past, struggling to reconcile his fragmented memories. Arswendy Bening Swara embodies the enigmatic Puro, a figure shrouded in ambiguity, making his intentions chillingly unclear.

Open to Interpretation:

The film leaves much open to interpretation, inviting viewers to engage with the narrative and its broader social commentary. The ending is deliberately ambiguous, prompting discussions about the consequences of unaddressed trauma and the pursuit of justice.

A Powerful Statement:

"Autobiography" is a daring and thought-provoking film. It transcends genre boundaries, offering a haunting exploration of the enduring impact of violence, the complexities of memory, and the ongoing struggle for truth in Indonesian society. It is a testament to the evolving landscape of Indonesian cinema, which is increasingly pushing boundaries and tackling challenging subjects with artistic merit.

While "Autobiography" garnered critical acclaim, it wasn't without its challenges. The film's portrayal of sensitive historical events sparked debates about artistic license and historical accuracy. Additionally, the slow-burn pacing and ambiguous ending may not appeal to all viewers who prefer a more action-oriented or clear-cut narrative.

However, "Autobiography" stands as a significant achievement in Indonesian cinema. Its exploration of complex themes, innovative visual storytelling, and powerful performances have positioned it as a must-watch for those seeking a film that lingers long after the credits roll. It showcases the potential of Indonesian cinema to not only entertain but also to provoke thought, challenge perspectives, and leave a lasting impact on audiences worldwide.

Beyond the Review:

This film's popularity has sparked discussions about the importance of addressing past traumas and the need for transitional justice processes in Indonesia. It has also gained international recognition, showcasing the growing global reach of Indonesian cinema and its ability to explore universal themes with a distinctly Indonesian perspective.


About the Creator

Moharif Yulianto

a freelance writer and thesis preparation in his country, youtube content creator, facebook

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