A Capital Effort: Jakarta’s Complex Nature, on Film
To many Indonesians, Jakarta is much more than just the capital. It is the land of opportunity, where anybody can become rich. It’s the big cosmopolitan city, where you can find anything and dreams can become a reality. It’s the world they’ve seen on TV, where beautiful movie stars hobnob with famous politicians. It’s Paris, New York and Hollywood all rolled into one.
Given it’s unique place in the Indonesian imagination, it’s no wonder that the country’s film industry, which is of course based in Jakarta, has told so many stories about the city.
But the way the capital has been depicted on the silver screen has varied quite a bit over the years. According to film critic Lisabona Rahman, during the local film industry’s earliest days (back in the 1960s, when the nation itself was still quite young), Jakarta was generally portrayed onscreen in a romantic, positive light.
“It was all about modernity, although it was not without critics,” she said.