1984. Raden Ajeng Kartini

Raden Ajeng Kartini

Kartini  confronts her husband ... Director Sjumandjaya
Producer Harris Lasmana
Screenplay P.T Nusantara
Film Cinematography Soetomo Ganda Soebrata
Editing Soemardjono
Production Design Djufri Tanissan Sound Endang Darsono
Music Sudharnoto
Cast Jenny Rachman (Kartini), Nani Widjaya, Drs R. M. Wisnoe Wardhana, Ny. Swandari Wardhana, Bambang Hermanto, Adi Kurdi
Production Company / World Sales PT Nusantara
Format DVD in PAL format (Colour/ English subtitles/165 min)

Kartini's  husband and his mistresses

R.A. Kartini is a film biography of the Javanese women’s emancipationist and educator, Kartini, who founded schools for women in North Central Java at the end of the nineteenth century.

Based on her letters (published in English in 1920 as Letters of a Javanese Princess) and on memoirs written by friends and acquaintances, the film preserves, in its structure, the two levels of Kartini’s life: on the one hand, her thwarted and brief public life; on the other, her letters, which were to have an important influence on the women’s movement in Indonesia.

Written and directed by Moscow trained Sjuman Djaya, who from the early 1970s until his death in 1985, was one of Indonesia’s most progressive and innovative directors, R.A. Kartini impressively recreates Kartini’s social context – the family life of the Javanese aristocracy, with its rigid hierarchies and gender discrimination; the ambitions of the Dutch colonial administrators; and Dutch exploitation of Javanese peasants, forcing them to work on Dutch plantations.

Kartini and her husband arrive back at the Regency of Rembang

Using cinemascope and colour, the film attempts to represent Kartini’s life, to a large extent, from her point of view. The dialogue of the film is in 3 languages – Indonesian, Javanese and Dutch – in accordance with the director’s belief in preserving linguistic differences. As a result it needed partial subtitling even in Indonesia.

Suggested Reading

R.A. Kartini Letters of a Javanese Princess

R. A. Kartini Letters from Kartini: An Indonesian Feminist, 1900 – 1904, trans. Joost Coté, Monash Asia Institute, 1993 (contains letters not published in the original set of letters)

R A Kartini On Feminism and Nationalism. Kartini’s Letters to Stella Zeehandelaar 1899-1903, trans. Joost Coté, Monash Asia Institute, 1995.