July 21, 2016 by Zoë
I watched the film Sang Penari before I read the book, and to be honest I haven’t read the book in Indonesian yet, though it’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. The original is actually a trilogoy, now usually collected into one volume, by Ahmad Tohari. The story follows Srintil, a young girl who becomes her village’s ronggeng. Unbeknownst to her, however, her village is about to be swept up first by communism and then by the violent backlash that occurred in Indonesia during the 1960’s. Complicating matters is Rasus, another villager, who has joined the army and is helping to exterminate communists.
The film and the book differ slightly, particularly in how they end and in the mental state of Srintil, but I enjoyed both. The cinematography in the film is also gorgeous. This perhaps isn’t the best book or movie to introduce the subject of 1965 in Indonesia, but both are still definitely worth checking out if you can find versions that you understand.
I had had Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro on my to-read list for a very long time before I noticed that a film version was coming out starring Carey Mulligan. That was enough of a reason for me to bump the book up on my list, and I read the book and watched the film in quick succession.
Both are quiet, though emotional, stories. Some scenes in the film make much more sense if you’ve read the book first, but both are quite enjoyable. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but suffice to say this is about three friends and the complicated issues they have as they move through life. It also delves into questions of ethics, though leaves the answers entirely up to the reader.