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Eva Celia Latjuba
Whenever I see an Indonesian film, I've always tried to spot for mistakes made by the filmmakers, but this one has definitely set a new standard.
Dian Sastrowardoyo (who plays Daya) casts against type in the film. Most people recognize her as a glamorous, charming young teenager, but in whispering sands, she plays a childish girl who always has her face covered in dirt. Christine Hakim plays Daya's mother who always keep track of her, because she doesn't want Daya to turn out to be missing like her Father. (Daya narrated in the beginning of the film, showing that her mother will always know wherever she is in the count of three).
Later on in the story, they're forced to move to the east because their place is burned down by the rebels. Daya's Father returns (which always cause a happy transition when a family is reunited) but ruins Daya's image of her father by selling her body to a villager (Didi Petet) for a pack of
cigarette. (Notice the scene where Daya's father keeps looking at her daughter from a mirror, symbolizing his denial of compassion for her daughter -- compare that to her mother's sense of awareness with Daya's three seconds formula.
Nan Achnas, the director and co-writer doesn't really point out whether the movie talks about feminism or mother-daughter relationship or both, but it tells us to just sit back and witness the metaphor he created between the irony of life in the eye of an innocent girl and her presence in the world as a woman. At first, she really admires her aunt's work as a dancer who pleases men, but later on she feels the horror when her body is used as an accessory for men's pleasure.
Whispering sands is one of those film that grabs your attention and force you to wonder of its meaning while and after you get out of your seat after you've seen it. The image plays like poetry; the environment (especially the sands) and tribal musics are combined to create meanings and to enhance the mood on each scene. It is beautifully crafted unlike other Indonesian films influenced by American style of filmmaking.
Many Indonesian whom already seen it doesn't quite fancy this masterpiece. But this is what film is all about, because the first rule of filmmaking is to show it, not to say it (I mean c'mon, if Picasso's paintings were to have explanation on the bottom of the canvas, what would be the art of that?)
Ray Carney, a film critic once said that Great art makes things hard on us. It makes trouble for us, because it denies us our easy, familiar categories. That's what I want to point out to Indonesian filmgoers who care for films to grow in our country.
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