1983. Roro Mendut – The Rebellious Woman

Roro Mendut – The Rebellious Woman

Directed by Ami Priyono, 1983SBS title The Rebellious Woman
Director Ami Priyono
Year of production 1983
Producer Bambang Widitomo, J. Adisubrata, Hatoek Subroto
Screenplay Tim Produksi (Production Team)
Cinematography Adrian Susanto
Editing Sri Kuncoro Syamsuri
Production design A. Abidin
Music Franki Raden,
Cast Meriam Bellina, Mathias Muchus, W.D. Mochtar, Clara Sinta Rendra, Sunarti Soewandi Choreography Bagong Kusudiardjo
Production company/ World sales PT Gramedia Film National library
Format VHS Video/Colour/107 min.
Roro Mendut's future lover, Pronocitro, approaches<br /> to see her for the first time

This exquisitely designed and photographed film is set in the 17th century kingdom of Mataram in Central Java. It is based on a legend that has been reworked many times in traditional performances, songs and narratives, and more recently has appeared in Ketoprak popular drama, and in novel form. In the film the old legend intertwines a story of passion and love, with subtle references to cultural contradictions in Indonesia. The armies of the king of Mataram have suppressed the rebels in the North coast of Java. But one coastal woman, Roro Mendut, refuses to surrender to her aristocratic captor, who leads the army. Roro Mendut uses her sexuality to resist the sexual aggression of a powerful man. When she and her lover die in their attempt to escape captivity, we are left asking if weapons and force are an adequate means of conquering the spirit of resistance. Though set in a kingdom of the past, cultural and sexual conflicts combine in this film to make it a powerful and yet subtle statement about power relations of today. Of particular note in the film is the use of traditional dances from Central Java and the North Coastal regions as a means of expressing both cultural and sexual difference. It is one of the most successful recent attempts to incorporate elements of traditional culture into a modern Indonesian narrative film. (Notes by Krishna Sen) This video release version has been subtitled by SBS Television in Australia.

Suggested Reading

Barbara Hatley “Texts and Contexts.The Roro Mendut Folk Legend on Stage and Screen” in K. Sen (ed.) Histories and Stories. Cinema in New Order Indonesia (Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1988) Krishna Sen “Repression and Resistance: Interpretations of the Feminine in New Order Indonesia” in Virginia Matheson Hooker (ed.) Culture and Society in New Order Indonesia

Availability: Between Three Worlds Video is licensed to sell this film on VHS video to anywhere in the world excluding Indonesia