Silent film set to live gamelan
WHEN you watch the black-andwhite silent film Setan Jawa (2016), you will get a glimpse of celebrated Indonesian director Garin Nugroho’s home in Yogyakarta in some of the scenes.
The “rumah joglo”, or traditional Javanese house, was built in the 1890s, roughly the same era the film is set in.
The 56-year-old says with a laugh: “It’s big and rundown. There was a lot of gossip about my house. It was funny, but the house was scary for some people.”
The 70-minute film, about a man who makes a deal with the devil for love, will show in Singapore as part of Pesta Raya on July 21.
It will be accompanied by live music from a 20-piece Indonesian gamelan ensemble, Gamelan Garasi Seni Benawa, and Singapore’s Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.
The work is commissioned by the Esplanade alongside Arts Centre Melbourne and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. It made its premiere in Australia in February.
Composers Rahayu Supanggah from Indonesia and Iain Grandage from Australia took about a year to compose the score for the project.
The cast consists mainly of Javanese dancers, with the exception of main actress Asmara Abigail, who practises pole-dancing, tango and flamenco. In making Setan Jawa, Garin says he was inspired by wayang kulit, or shadow puppetry.
“Shadow puppetry is basically a form of silent movie. It also forms an important part of the history of cinema.”
German silent film Nosferatu (1922), which he remembers watching as a student in Jakarta in 1982, was also a source of inspiration.
Three years ago, he caught a screening of Nosferatu in Jakarta, with a live score by a Berlin orchestra.
He says: “The aspect of live performance is very important. It invites the audience to have a direct participation with the artwork. It brings it to life.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
The Indonesian film Setan Jawa, which plays at the Esplanade in Singapore on July 21, will be accompanied by live music from an Indonesian gamelan ensemble and Singapore’s Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.