1953. The Tiger from Tjampa – Harimau Tjampa

The Tiger from Tjampa – Harimau Tjampa

Lukman  receives instruction in silat from Pak Saleh Director : D. Djayakusuma
Producer : D. Djayakusuma
Screenplay : Alwi Dahlan
Cinematography : Max Tera
Editing : Sumardjono
Production Design : Ali Akbar
Sound : E. Sambas
Cast : Bambang Hermanto, Nurnaningsih, Titi Savitri, Raden Ismail
Production Company : Perfini
Original Format : 35mm, Black and White, 97 mins
Print Source : Sinematek Indonesia
Format DVD in PAL format
Pak Saleh uses silat to subdue Datuk Langit's henchmen  who have ambused him.

Filmed largely on location in 1953 in villages in West Sumatra (the region of the matrilineal Minangkabau people) Djayakusuma’s The Tiger from Tjampa is still highly regarded today in Indonesia as an early fine portrayal in a fiction film of aspects of a traditional regional culture.

Set in the 1930s, and narrated like a ballad from the past, The Tiger from Tjampa tells of how a young man, Lukman, seeks to avenge his father’s murder by learning pencak silat, a traditional form of self defence, based on the movements of animals. The pencak silat seen in the film is regionally specific to West Sumatra. Silat in many other Indonesian films is often mixed with the kung fu of Hong Kong cinema.

The Tiger from Tjampa is exceptional in its evocation of a unique region and milieu. Apart from some of the main actors, almost everything in the film is from West Sumatra. All the film’s quite varied music is from West Sumatra, and so are its dances. In its dialogue the film strikingly uses ‘peribahasa’ – maxims and proverbs handed down for generations with in the oral culture – with their characteristic lilting Minangkabau rhythms. As well, the film displays the intense spirit of community that underlies educational practises in an oral culture.

The Tiger from Tjampa is by no means simply a story of revenge, but is really an exploration of the practise and philosophical bases of pencak silat, and its relation to Islamic values. Lukman is repeatedly shown to be intemperate, and easily provoked. Besides learning silat, Lukman must also learn perseverance and self restraint. He must learn to “tunggu sabar” i.e remain patient. Harimau Tjampa contains numerous scenes of students practising pencak silat (with lessons conducted by a famous master, who appears in the film) and scenes of combat.

Guests watch a  parasol dance in the celebrations before the wedding.

Djayakusuma, who took this project over from Usmar Ismail, is remembered in Indonesia as one of the first to make feature films in regional areas, after the coming of independence. Both as a filmmaker, and as a teacher at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts, Djayakusuma’s advocacy for a cinema engaging with the regions influenced younger generations of directors to follow his example, among those being Slamet Rahardjo and Garin Nugroho.

Technical Limitations of Surviving Material

Only a few shots early in the surviving prints of this film suffer from loss of visual quality due to negative deterioration. The print on which the video is based is subtitled throughout. At a few points the spotting of the English subtitles on the print could have been improved.