One of seven films commissioned by Peter Sellars for his New Crowned Hope festival commemorating the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, OPERA JAWA is at once a requiem for victims of violence and natural disaster, a postmodern movie musical and a foot fetishist’s dream
“In a pig’s liver, one can see an entire life.” This porcine prediction, made by a sage street singer at the beginning of masterful Indonesian director Garin Nugroho’s gorgeous, otherworldly epic, OPERA JAWA, establishes an appropriately superstitious and magical tone for the fateful narrative about to unfold. Updating an ancient Sanskrit love triangle among spoiled royals—reimagined here as married pottery artisans Siti and Setio and village fat cat Ludiro—Nugroho has fashioned an all-singing, all-dancing morality play that pits cultural tradition and marital fidelity against radical uprising and erotic freedom. When Setio embarks on a long journey away from home, Siti’s fidelity is tested by the fiery writhings of Ludiro (a scene-stealing Eko Supriyanto, who held his own against Madonna as a dancer on her Drowned World tour). Nugroho envisions this romantic intrigue through a heady yet sensual mélange of haunting gamelan melodies, acrobatic choreography and Javanese shadow puppetry. Much like Matthew Barney, he is a wildly ambitious conceptual artist with a flair for cinematic excess, filling the screen with razzle-dazzle imagery—hundreds of candlelit masks, a maze of coconut shells, a beating heart wrenched from its lovelorn body—yet always attuned to the tragedy of his timeless tale.
Opens Friday, September 19,
SFFS Screen at
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
All showings on the SFFS Screen are at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, and you can buy advanced tickets at http://www.sundancecinemas.com/choose.html
The SFFS Screen is presented by the San Francisco Film Society in partnership with Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. For more information visit http://www.sffs.org/events/films/film_opera_jawa.html