Si Pitung on the Silver Screen: Examining Identity Under the New Order

Mirza Dhewanto (University of California, Berkeley)

Si Pitung is a Betawi legend telling the story of the eponymous character who steals from wealthy landowners and the colonial government to give back to the poor. The legend is ultimately a tragedy as he was later betrayed and killed with a golden bullet shot by the colonial police. The article examines two movie adaptations of the legend from 1970 and 1971 and how the movies were emblematic of New Order nationalism. The movie emphasized upon the identities of the characters, tying their role to their loyalty to the indigenous people, which is tied to a perception of nationalism. Indigenous characters were depicted as good or bad depending on their affiliation, the Dutch played an exclusively antagonistic role, and the ethnic Chinese characters were treated with a great deal of ambivalence that reflects New Order racial tension.

Part of V5-06 Folklore Work Today, Thursday, October 12, 10:30 am–12:30 pm