Shape of the Moon, The

Leonard Retel Helmrich

A gorgeous, dynamically shot portrait of a family in Jakarta struggling with religious issues and the choice between city and country life. For Stand van de Maan, Leonard Retel Helmrich returned to Indonesia to make a sequel to Stand van de Zon. Again, he portrays this enormous country, with 240 million inhabitants and the largest Muslim population in the world, on the basis of just a few individuals.

Like in Stand van de Zon, the subject of this film is the Sjamsuddin family, living in a suburb of Jakarta. Rumidjah is a 62-year-old widow who considers returning to her native village; in that case, her son Bakti and her 13-year-old granddaughter Tari would be left behind. Rumidjah clashes with her headstrong son on religious issues: he converted to Islam before getting married, whereas she refuses to part with her crucifix. These good-natured quarrels take place against the backdrop of anti-American demonstrations and an Islamic neighborhood watch.

In this way, the film continually connects small issues with larger ones. There are no interviews, there is no voice-over: the camera silently follows the people in what the director calls Single Shot Cinema: a kind of cinema verité in which the camera does not observe from a distance, but intuitively moves along with the action. It glides among people, dives to the ground, scans faces and bodies, plunges into the chaos when a fire breaks out, and flies high into the air when following a pedestrian crossing a staggeringly high railway bridge.

Credits

Director
Leonard Retel Helmrich
Country
Netherlands, The
Type
Documentary
Duration
92 minutes
Themes
aged people, family, religion
Year
2004