When you think about your country’s history, some of you may recall the days your grandparents told you about their youth. If you live in a Southeast Asian country, you are most likely to hear about colonialism days from your grandparents’ stories. But, no matter how good of a storyteller your grandparents were, you can not vividly visualize what happened back then.
Thanks to the rising film industry, you can now get a clearer picture of your grandparents’ youth.
1. Tjoet Nja Dhien (1988)
Set in the “bloodiest years” of Dutch occupation in Indonesia (early 1900s), the film tells the story of a heroic lady from Aceh, known as Tjoet Nja Dhien or Cut Nyak Dhien. After her husband, Teuku Umar, died in a battle against the Dutch, she took over the leadership of Aceh guerilla troops. Even with modern guns, the Dutch still struggled defeating Dhien’s troops. The battle lasted for years.
Directed by Eros Djarot back in the 80s, the films remains legendary for the Indonesian film industry. It won the Best International Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989. In the same year, Tjoet Nja Dhien was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
2. Heneral Luna (2015)
For over three centuries, Spain had occupied the Philippines. When the colonization came to an end in 1898, the Filipinos did not automatically won their country. Spain dols the archipelago to the Americans for $20 million. As the Americans prepared to claim their newest colony, the Fillipinos stood up for their country.
One name stood out in this historical Phillippine-American War: General Antonio Luna. He led the Phillippine Revolutionary Army and later served as Supreme Chief of the Army for the First Phillippine Republic. The epic political and military film will surely give you a thrilling shiver.
3. Leftenant Adnan (2000)
When World War II broke out in Asia, the Japanese Army were pressured to exploit its colonies, including Malaysia. One of the legendary Malay heroes who stood up from the Japanese Imperial Army. The bravery of the young Malay was known in the famous Battle of Pasir Panjang and Battle of Opium Hill. He was Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi.
4. Soekarno (2013)
Another quality film from Indonesia, which tells the story of the nation’s first president, Soekarno. The film started from his early childhood during the Dutch occupation until Indonesia’s Independence Day. His fight was no longer military, like Cut Nyak Dhien and previous Indonesian war heroes, but political. Besides his career, the movie also give touches of his personal life. Despite his connection with the popularly despised communism, the charismatic man is simply unforgettable.
5. Indochine (1992)
Though the movie was not originated from Southeast Asia, Indochine depicts a lucid visual of 1930s to 1950s Vietnam. This is a story of Elain Devries, a French plantation owner who adopted a native child, Camille, during the rise of Vietnam nationalist movement. As the struggle against European imperialism rises and their cross-cultural relationships, both mother and daughter face an emotionally difficult challenge. The French film is worth watching as it had also won the Best Foreign Language Film at the 65th Academy Awards.