Family, Power, and Nationalism Children in Post-Independence Indonesian Cinema

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This article examines the Indonesian films Si Pintjang (1951) and Djenderal Kantjil (1958) to explore how they use the portrayal of children to articulate notions of Indonesian nationalism post-independence. Directed by prominent Indonesian filmmakers Kotot Sukardi and Nya Abbas Akup, these films are believed to represent different political ideologies amidst the political polarization of the 1950s. Through a careful analysis of the films’ texts, this article reveals how these films use the role of adults to represent the power of the state, implying the state’s authority in restoring order from disorder. The films illustrate the directors’ idealization of the newly established Indonesia after colonialism. Both showcase chaotic situations in which children are initially held accountable, but which eventually show them as requiring guidance and education. This power dynamic highlights the imbalance between children and adults, thus representing the state’s connection with its citizens and emphasizing the citizens’ responsibility to the nation as a form of nationalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-61
Number of pages26
JournalBijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • children
  • family
  • Indonesian cinema
  • nationalism
  • power


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