Saturday, September 27, 2008

Laskar Pelangi The Movie

The first movie scene reflects the first chapter of the book “Sepuluh Murid Baru” very well – the dilapidated SD Muhammadiyah, the poverty portrayed by the children and their parents, and the teachers’ apprehensive faces. I heard the lady beside me started to cry and her little son asked her why she cried, “Kok Mama nangis? Kenapa?” The lady answered, “Kasihan mereka sekolahnya seperti itu. Sekolahnya bakal ditutup kalau muridnya tidak cukup.” I bet the lady is the book’s fan because she could explain to her son who’s and who and the events throughout the movie. *smile*

I know it’s not easy to make a best seller book into a movie. I was a bit disappointed when I watch the movie because it lacks the rich patina that I read in the book and some twists that are not in the book.

For example:

  • There’s no Mahmud character – one of PN Timah’s teachers that likes and sympathizes with Bu Mus, played by Tora Sudiro – in the book.
  • Pak Harfan, SD Muhammadiyah’s principal, attended the Intelligence Contest and was not died before the contest.
  • There’s no Pak Zul character – a close friend of Pak Harfan that’s used to help Pak Harfan and the school – in the book.
  • Lintang was late for school because he met a crocodile on his way to school. But the movie moves this event to the contest day.
  • It’s the Ikal-Lintang-Sahara trio that represented SD Muhammadiyah in the contest and not Ikal-Lintang-Mahar.

Riri Riza admitted that it’s not easy to capture the book’s mosaic into a 125-minute movie but he tried to capture the main message of this movie: the wonder of the dream, the marginalization of people, and the irony of our education.

The movie is very well made technically – the original Belitong landscape, the children that play and blow the life of Ikal, Lintang, Mahar, Syahdan, Borek, Kucai, A Kiong, Sahara, Trapani, Harun, Flo, A Ling, their families and communities, the soundtrack – but it is somewhat short of the intensity of the main plot. I agree with Dahono Fitrianto in Hasrat Bertutur “Laskar Pelangi”
that it can be more powerful if it gives more substance to Lintang – the genius that beat the odds to go to and to stay in school and be the pride of the school and his friends but had to cancel his dream because he had to be the only breadwinner for his 13 other family members after his father died.

For me the most lovable part of the movie is the “Bunga Seroja” - when Mahar leads the members of Laskar Pelangi to cheer up Ikal that's heart broken after A Ling left for Jakarta. (“Bunga Seroja” is one of the old and famous Malay songs.)

Overall, it’s a good and touching movie – much better than other Indonesian’s movies that are far from reality. Pak Harfan's speech to these students is very powerful and is still lingering on... 'hidup berarti hanya dengan banyak memberi bukan dari banyak meminta'.

The official “Laskar Pelangi” The Movie website.