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An update from Evaneos

What to watch and read before leaving for Indonesia.

Indonesia is considered by many to be a kind of paradise on earth, though the country does also have some dark episodes in its history. In this article we offer suggestions about what to watch and read if you want to learn a bit more about Indonesia.

The films to see

The Act of Killing
This 2012 documentary deals with the massacres that occurred in Indonesia in 1965 following the military coup of that year. Estimates suggest more than 500,000 people were killed. It is worth noting that the Indonesian Government did not respond positively to the film (especially after finding out about its Oscar nomination in 2014), stating that it presented a backward, outdated image of the country. As a film about part of Indonesia's history, this is well worth seeing, though the episode it deals with is not one of the most pleasant ones. Anyone travelling to Indonesia should watch this film before departing as an act of remembrance of what took place. A sequel to this documentary is due to be released in 2015.

Eat, Pray, Love
is an American film from 2010 that tells the story of Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts), who, after a difficult divorce, decides to set off on a trip around the world in order to find herself again. In fact she ends up finding much more than that. The film contains wonderful, picture-postcard images of Rome, India and, of course, Bali. It will give you the urge to travel to Indonesia and see the country's incredible scenery for yourself.

The dreamlike, picture-postcard beauty of Indonesia

Recommended authors

Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Is recognised as being one of Indonesia's best contemporary writers and was at one time imprisoned by the Suharto regime. The Girl from the Coast, a novel from 2002, tells the story of a young woman living in a fishing village in Java who is offered in marriage to a local aristocrat and, despite the loss of her freedom, continues to live her life in as free a way as she possibly can. This is a good book to read if you want to learn something about the local culture before setting off on your trip to Indonesia.

Nigel Barley
Barley is a famous English anthropologist with extensive experience of carrying out research in the field. Writing in a style impregnated with his typically English sense of humour, he describes his experiences in Indonesia in a book that lies halfway between being a tale of globetrotting and the story of a scientific voyage. Not a Hazardous Sport recounts the preparations for his voyage to Sulawesi and the series of adventures that befall him during the trip. I recommend the book for the sense of culture shock it conveys and the upbeat and ironic tone of its narrator.

Marie Foucaut
30 contributions
Updated 17 November 2015
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