If I could say, one of the best things that came this year (from all the disasters and bad news that kept coming) was the presence of Online Cinema, a streaming service for watching Indonesian films at very cheap prices, only five thousand to rent one film for 48 hours! Previously I said that Online Cinema has the potential to change the way viewers watch films and studios produce films, but now I am again amazed to see that they are able to present a restoration result of one of the most important films in the history of Indonesian cinema, Tiga Dara by Usmar Ismail.
Indonesian classic films are indeed very difficult to reach by the wider community, especially for films from the 1950s such as Tiga Dara or other Usmar Ismail films. Perhaps what can still be reached is Lewat Djam Malam , a 1954 film also directed by Usmar Ismail, which found restoration and is now available for pre-order on The Criterion Channel which has become a package with other classic films on "Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project No. . 3 ".
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Tiga Dara is a musical comedy film centered on a pair of three brothers, or yes "three wives". Nunung (Chitra Dewi), the oldest, just had her 29th birthday. Their grandmother (Fifi Young) feels uneasy because she is worried that she will not have time to see Nunung get married and have grandchildren, while Nunung's two younger siblings, Nana (Mieke Wijaya) and Nenny (Indriati Iskak) are still teenagers. "Still a child," if their grandmother said.
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Tiga Dara's theme is indeed still relevant to modern times, even after more than 50 years, and that is one of the reasons why this is a timeless film. Women are expected, even required to marry by their parents before it is too late, and for them the age of 30 is too old to get married. Until now, there are still many people who are full of pressure because they are not married in their 20s.
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But what I really enjoy besides the theme which can still be felt today is how this film depicts ancient Jakarta. Jakarta where all the young people always wear shirts and trousers and their hair is neatly arranged and a thin mustache that accompanies them. Tiga Dara is a time capsule that can quickly take audiences back to the 1950s.
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Seeing people speak in standard language, such as "hurry up" instead of "hurry up" and "change clothes" instead of "change clothes", is indeed a pleasant and soothing thing. Maybe I'll start using "change clothes", who knows. And singing "old age, old age" on birthdays also feels very different but also very interesting. The dialogue between the characters in the Three Virgins is indeed very different from our current conversation, but for some reason hearing their conversation feels more authentic. I could hear them talking all day.
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And how refreshing it was to see Jakarta in the old days! Looking at housing where the distance between the houses is quite far and there is a lot of grass everywhere and the buildings are not as dense, as high or as much as they are now feels a lot different. Imagine now, where I could be stuck in traffic for two hours on the same road in Jakarta. It's different from the past where the streets were empty and only one or two cars passed by or motorbikes and bicycles passing by. Starting from housing, cities to beaches, Tiga Dara excitedly invited us to take a walk with her characters.
Watching old film actors really feels different from today. Watching Tiga Dara is like a theater, where there are not many cuts in a scene so that the scene really relies on every film player in it to liven up the atmosphere, whether the atmosphere of the story, serious or sad. And all the cast here are really successful, with their acting that feels very natural and their movements are very smooth when moving or dancing and singing.
The comedy in Tiga Dara is also very pronounced, especially from the father of his three sisters, Sukandar (Hassan Sanusi). He also considers Nunung to be young, but the pressure from his in-laws keeps him at a loss in terms of how to find a partner for his eldest child until one day he is told to invite his coworkers by his in-laws to introduce him to Nunung and who does he bring to his house? His friends who are also the same age as him, a group of parents who frustrate his grandmother, are confused about why Sukandar didn't bring someone younger.
With Tiga Dara , Online Cinema has done something really important. They have not only returned to bringing classic films to the general audience, but they have also saved a legacy that may have been forgotten and reminded us how the film industry in Indonesia is far developed or different from before. I can only hope that Tiga Dara is not the last classic film that can be saved, because there are so many old Indonesian films that are not only important, but also very valuable for us not to return to visit and watch them with the general public. Maybe Online Cinema is one way for us to revisit the past.
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