Opera Jawa (2006)
In this innovative and long-in-development cross-cultural musical from director Garin Nugroho, a contented pair of former Ramayana dancers who have since forsaken their art in favor of selling earthenware finds their real-life relationship falling toward the same dark fate as their fictional counterparts. A married couple who live a simple life in a remote village, Siti (Artika Sari Devi) and Setio (Martinus Miroto) once made a living by reenacting the mythical tale of Sita and Prince Rama. As the story goes, Sita and Rama lived a life of marital bliss until the nefarious King Ravana kidnapped Sita and spirited her away to the land of Lanka in hopes of realizing his darkest fantasies. Now, as if the tragic tale has purposefully sought to curse those who would attempt to dramatize it, Siti and Setio find their own relationship plagued by the arrival the powerful and domineering Ludiro (Eko Supriyanto), a ruthless tyrant who will stop at nothing to claim Siti as his own. … More
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Critic Reviews for Opera Jawa
Blood and beauty are set in tandem, leaving the audience to wrestle with the contradictions that [director] Nugroho highlights in a film that stands out by any standard of cinema.
A colorful and confounding head trip, Opera Jawa is guaranteed to test the fortitude of all but the most adventurous viewer.
A radiant folk fantasia, at once sophisticated and elemental, freewheeling and composed.
If all the spectacular artifice seems a little overwhelming at times, Nugroho's film, nevertheless, retains a simple emotional core sustained by sensitive and expressive performances.
A beautifully mounted musical epic combining traditional myths with contempo meditations on violence and social inequality, Opera Jawa is bold and innovative.
I remembered what Kenneth Tynan said about Godot: go and see it, and the worst that can happen is that you will see an oddity, a four-leaf clover. But it could yet be a wonderful experience.
With some remarkable dance and spectacle, this is a unique film, but not exactly one with broad appeal.
A crash course in Javanese symbolism is advised before viewing, but few current movies can boast a more of breath-stopping images.
In certain circles, it won't be for anyone. But it's as unusual and enigmatic a piece of cinema as you're likely to see this year.
Stunningly beautiful, it's a shame we can only understand a fraction of what's going on.
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