The Eye Of The Day

The Eye Of The Day


Reviewed by: Trinity

As day breaks in Jakarta, a man tends to his pigeons on a rooftop. Down on the street, a bustling crowd has gathered round a truck distributing rice. Children risk being crushed underfoot as they scrabble for grains which have been dropped to the ground. Disgusted, one woman gives up and walks away.

The Eye Of The Day is a three year labour of love for filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich. Using a Mini DV camera, he captured the life and times of Indonesians through political chaos and a depressed economy. In particular, he follows Rumidja and her two grown sons, Dwi and Barkti, as they try, not only to survive, but to have some fun.

Helmrich has chosen to use a non-linear narrative sequence, providing subtitles to identify places and times. This allows him to segue between scenes of children and protesters singing the national anthem, both situations having been encountered earlier in the film.

A running theme is the Christian families' integration with a primarily Muslim populace. In particular, we see Barkti learning how to "pray like a Muslim" and the reaction of Rumidja as she is barred from greeting her cousin before he embarks on a pilgrimage to Mecca. One of the best shots in the film is of a church spire which pans up to reveal the minaret of the mosque just behind.

Some of the funnier moments come from the two brothers' attempt to run a bus service and the fate of an image of President Suharto. However, the main section is focussed on political unrest leading up to the elections and how they have affected urban and rural Indonesia.

In a sense, this is what ultimately lets the film down. It lacks the cohesion to put across any points, preferring to present tantalising glimpses of a better documentary in a freeform format.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2002
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Documentary about an Indonesian family, trying to survey the politically turbulent times.

Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich

Writer: Leonard Retel Helmrich, Hetty Naakens-Retel Helmrich

Starring: Rumidja, Dwi, Barkti, Ibu Sum, Tani

Year: 2001

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: The Netherlands


EIFF 2002

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