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Guy Hamilton is a journalist on his first job as a foreign correspondent. His apparently humdrum assignment to Indonesia soon turns hot as President Sukarno electrifies the populace and frightens foreign powers. Guy soon is the hottest reporter on the story with the help of his photographer, half- Chinese dwarf Billy Kwan, who has gone native. Guy's affair with diplomat Jill Bryant also helps. Eventually Guy must face some major moral choices and the relationship between Billy and him reaches a crisis at the same time the politics of Indonesia does. Written by
A brilliant exposition of Indonesia circa the 1965 revolution
15 years after its release, I finally get to see what to my knowledge is the only english-speaking film that tells the story of Indonesia circa the 1965 revolution.
A very young Gibson is convincing as the inexperienced but ambitious reported determined to make his mark in telling the story of Sukarno's last moments in power. Equally brilliant is Sigourney Weaver, and yet one feels that this film did not give her the opportunity to show her true calibre.
The one who ultimately steals the show, then, is Linda Hunt, playing the enigmatic and passionate Billy, who understands the true psyche of Indonesia better than any of the other foreign characters in this story.
When Billy solemnly expresses his disappointment to Guy, proclaiming, "I created you", it evoked images of Weir's latest masterpiece, The Truman Show, where Christof has fashioned the persona of Truman Burbank for his TV spectacle. Perhaps a running theme in Peter Weir's work? Must check out...
I marvelled at the authenticity of the setting. It certainly looked like Jakarta. The faces, the atmosphere, the buildings, and yet, those scenes were shot in the Philippines, with mainly Filipino actors! Just goes to show the similarity among Indonesia and the Philippines.
I see now why this film was never made available in Indonesia (to my knowledge). The last few moments of the film show the stark reality of communist executions by Soeharto's new military regime, horrifying pictures of mere pawns being slaughtered... and the parting message from a self-confessed PKI member:"Am I stupid for wanting to change my country's condition?" is one of the best lines in this film.
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