A young Australian reporter tries to navigate the political turmoil of Indonesia during the rule of President Sukarno with the help of a diminutive photographer.A young Australian reporter tries to navigate the political turmoil of Indonesia during the rule of President Sukarno with the help of a diminutive photographer.A young Australian reporter tries to navigate the political turmoil of Indonesia during the rule of President Sukarno with the help of a diminutive photographer.
I'm a professional expatriate, living overseas for 25 years. I'm not talking about an American in Paris or an Englishman in New York, I mean African steppes, tropical jungles, Indian slums. Living in a totally foreign country, in a totally strange culture, imperfectly understanding the local language, bewildered by alien logic, you experience a permanent sense of unease. You adapt, you learn to cope, you make what you hope are friends. But you never forget that you are a stranger in unknown territory, and that you are vulnerable.
You may peacefully walk on the street one minute, the next minute bullets are flying all around you. In the evening you have a pleasant drink with your neighbour, in the morning you are arrested, accused of being a foreign mercenary. When you travel inland you come at a road block, not knowing if they'll let you pass, or harass you for a couple of hours, or confiscate your car. As a foreigner in developing countries, you are constantly confronted with uncertainty, an intangible menace lurking around the corner.
I find that TYOLD transmits this sense of menace very poignantly. Many people have commented on its brilliant sense of place, the accurate depiction of Indonesia and the events that took place at the time. Others mention that you get a very real feeling of the tension and uncertainty journalists in times of upheaval are subjected to. But I would like to extend it beyond journalists. The sense of menace in TYOLD is eminently recognizable by all who have lived in countries where the police is not there to protect you, the laws are not there to make society more civilized, the hospitals are not there to cure you. In TYOLD, the menace is made visible because of the troubles that erupt, but usually you do not have to live through civil war when overseas. Still, the menace is not less real, and the sense of foreboding haunting every expatriate was very convincingly conveyed in the film.
- Dec 14, 2004