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Max Havelaar

Max Havelaar image
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 6:30 PM
Center for Korean Studies Building, UHM
Indonesia (1976, 170 mins)
Dutch and Indonesian w/English subtitles

Director: Fons Rademakers
Screenplay: Gerard Soeteman
Cinematography: Jan de Bont
Cast: Peter Faber (Max Havelaar), Sacha Bulthuis (Tine), Adendu Soesilaningrat Regent (as E.M. Adenan Soesilaningrat), Maruli Sitompul (Demang),
Krijn ter Braak (Verbrugge), Carl van der Plas (Resident), Rima Melati (Mevrouw Slotering), Rutger Hauer (Duclari)

Based on the real life experience of Dutch writer Douwes Dekker (writing under the pen name Multatuli), Max Havelaar is an undisputed classic in the pantheon of Dutch literary canons.

This gorgeous film adaptation was made by Fons Rademakers (1920-2007) in 1976 as a collaborative project of the Indonesian and Dutch film industry [although the film was banned from distribution and exhibition in Indonesia until the 1990s].

The story revolves around Max Havelaar, an Assistant-Resident of the Dutch East Indies colonial government in West Java, who is sent to manage the extraction of resources in the region only to be shocked at the conditions he finds at his new post.

The 1860 book caused a political uproar by shining a light on the abuse of the native population of the Dutch East Indies; what noted Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer called “the book that killed colonialism.”

As Alphonse Nahuÿs writes in his preface to the first English translation of Max Havelaar, “Max Havelaar is immortal, not because of literary art or talent, but because of the cause he advocates.” And this filmic adaptation enriches the immortality of the original work, because if there is any meaning to be distilled out of Max Havelaar at all, it is a question that is just as relevant today as it was in 1860: Who is more corruptive? The colonizer or the colonized? Or are both just as bad?

– Acknowledgement: Ari Purnama

For a fascinating article on the film and the times, click here: Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Please support the filmmaker by purchasing all of their films!

Distributor: A-Film Distribution