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The Year of Living Dangerously


Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 6:30 PM
Center for Korean Studies Auditorium

USA (1982, 115 min)

Director: Peter Weir
Screenplay: C.J. Koch
Cast: Linda Hunt, Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver

“The Year of Living Dangerously” takes us to Indonesia in the middle 1960s, a time when the Sukarno regime was shaky and the war in Vietnam was just heating up. It moves us into the life of a foreign correspondent, a radio reporter (Mel Gibson) from Australia who has just arrived in Jakarta, and who thrives in an atmosphere heady with danger.

This is a wonderfully complex film about personalities more than events, and we really share the feeling of living in that place, at that time. It does for Indonesia what Bogdanovich’s “Saint Jack” did for Singapore. The direction is masterful; Weir (whose credits include “Picnic at Hanging Rock”) is as good with quiet little scenes (like Billy’s visit to a dying child) as big, violent ones (like a thrilling attempt by Guy and Billy to film a riot). The performances of the movie are a good fit with Weir’s direction, and his casting of Linda Hunt as the Billy Kwan character is a key to how the film works. Hunt would go on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this film role. -Roger Ebert

Note: This film is being shown as the precursor to our screening of “The Act of Killing” on Wednesday, April 2.