Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Forced Gratitude in A Mise-en-Scene Inc.


“Last year’s TFA is also functioning as the catalog for Star Wars brand. But, at least, it’s being honest in proclaiming itself as a platform of nostalgic. What hurtful about Rogue One is the movie betrays the concept of sacrifice and martyrdom as an act of barter for hope. To the contrary, this movie relies on nods as the foreground, but rarely lets our condolence to the unsung heroes touching the ground.”

In Star Wars Episode IV (with the additional subtitle A New Hope attached later on) signature opening crawl, it is said that the story set during the battle where The Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the devilish regime of Empire’s ultimate planet destroyer, The Death Star.

There’s a scene in the middle of the movie wherein a group of Empire highest rank officers gather in an internal meeting with Darth Vader also as a participant. The seemingly crucial meeting is about the possibility of The Rebel to defeat them, even though the extremely deadly Death Star is on their side. The meeting seems to have the highest level of urgency and, judging by the way they’re talking about it, it clearly shows that they’ve lost a top secret data related to Death Star’s weakness.

“If the rebels have obtained a complete technical readout of this station, it’s possible, however unlikely, that they might find a weakness and exploit it”, says a worrisome Empire high ranks officer.

One of his colleagues, however, does have a high assurance and then bragging about Death Star’s mega powerful ability and how undefeatable it is.

The conceit then has earned Darth Vader himself to response. In James Earl Jones’s deep baritone-well-articulated voice, Darth Vader says, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of The Force.”

Darth Vader is right. For those who have been the loyal fans of Star Wars saga must know the end result and how The Force helps The Rebels to claim the victory. But Episode IV has us wondered about the mystery surrounding its plot-holes and the first question is, “How do The Rebels get the information of a supposedly super secretive Death Star blue print in the first place?”. It’s soon followed by other questions, such as, “How could a single laser blast blow up a massive gigantic planet-alike weapon?”; “Why would the architect of Death Star not thinking such a fatal and glaring error in his masterpiece?; “Isn’t it silly to let the exhaust vent and the core reactor linked?”; or “Why The Empire does not have a magnetic field as a shield to cover their most precious asset?”.

Episode IV and the rest of Star Wars movies may rely on The Force as the plot device to justify the illogical answer for unexplained driving force in its narrative. The using of The Force has the similar function as in using words like “God’s destiny”, or “fate”, or “fortune” to describe something that happens for no logical reasons. Some avid fans may have no complaints, but some others sure keep on questioning. And questions lead to conversations, conversations mean interests, and interests, in the eyes of studio executives is equal to the reflection of market opportunity.

So, “why don’t we create a Star Wars film to answer the questions in Episode IV?” way of thinking is the main reason why Rogue One: A Star Wars Story exists. Disney and LucasFilm call it “a spin-off’ and fans eat it up. The enthusiasm for this movie, following the commercial success of last year’s The Force Awakens (TFA), gets widened. I talked to some youngsters at a local IMAX theater in Jakarta who said that TFA was the factor why they bought tickets for the first show of Rogue One. They’re not Star Wars fans. They haven’t watched Episode IV yet and their only guide to the Star Wars universe was TFA. But the fact that they’re now starting to be familiar with Star Wars as a brand is undeniable and Disney/LucasFilm proves their marketing skill successfully kill the generation gap. In that context, Rogue One can be seen as a continuation of Star Wars as a brand.

A phenomenal brand that it is, Rogue One as the latest part of Star Wars brand, treated like a myth. For its first day releases in Indonesia and some other South East Asia countries, the studio and exhibitors agreed to cut the usual first time shows at 12 and started at 4 pm instead. Sure the decision sparked rumors and curiosity and it hasn’t yet answered. But my guess is the decision has something to do with the number of four as Rogue One shares the same timeline with Episode IV. But again, it is only a numerology speculation.

There’s a sort of conflict of interest among film critics and reviewers in seeing Rogue One. Do we see Rogue One as a film or as part of a phenomenal brand? Can we see it with an independent mind and let the dark side of our geeky sentimental go?

Star Wars movies are all about the family affairs of Skywalker clan, about the drama of members of a royal family with daddy issue. From that perspective, Rogue One actually has something unique because it’s a story of a group of proletarians who have nothing to do with any Skywalker bourgeois inner circle. What unites them is they’re fighting against the same enemy, the authoritarian regime of Galactic Empire.

What I like about Rogue One is the movie offers the other side of the story of unsung heroes behind that famous attack on Death Star in Episode IV to us. The idea is to tell the story about a band of guerilla fighters who never receive any credits for their bravery and martyrdom.

The lead figure here is Jyn Erso (played by an Oscar nominee actress, Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls). Jyn has a baby fat in her cheeks that makes her having a raw beauty looks with soft-hearted persona, but with a certain determination of courage in her eyes. Just imagine the adult and dark-haired version of Laura Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie.

Jones’ Jyn follows a new tradition in Star Wars saga after taken over by The Mouse House to continue their archetypal princess representation in movies. Jyn resembles Daisy Ridley’s Rey in TFA, since both of them share some similar characteristics: as the lead character, rebellion, and a natural martial artist. What separates them is that we know who Jyn’s parents are.

Jyn is, first seen as a child in the opening sequence, the daughter of Galen Orso (played by Mads Mikkelsen, an actor with a cold and ruthless look) and Lyra (Valene Kane). This small family of three is living in peace and harmony in a presumably rural savanna-alike planet until one day their existence is caught on Empire’s radar and they send out a spaceship led by General Orson Krennic ( Ben Mendelsohn) to capture Orso family. It turns out that Galen is a scientist whose competency needed by Empire to get Death Star completed—a job in which he undisguised refused since, to his knowledge, the project will only cause calamity and holocaust to the universe. While her parents are wrangling (“You’re confusing peace with terror!”, says Galen Orso calmly to General Krennic) with their would-be captors, Jyn hides away and later witnesses her mother’s death.

Jyn is supposed to be taken care by Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker)—I assume the name of Saw Gerrera was inspired by Che Guevara, an iconic Marxist and Cuba revolutionary leader—a close friend of his father, but for an unknown reason, Gerrera leaves Jyn in an underground bunker.

Saw Gerrera is, like Che Guevara, indeed an extremist rebellion who chooses to work on a different path with Rebel Alliance and going solo instead.

We see Jyn again later, after many years passing by, this time she is arrested by The Rebel Alliance for her connection to her father. In The Rebel Alliance’s opinion, Jyn must know something about her father’s work, a person whom she actually has had no contact with for a very long time. In fact, Jyn has no idea that her father is building an extremely deadly super weapon for the Galactic Empire.

As the story goes, Jyn reunites with Saw Gerrara in an unexpected event through a renegade Galactic Empire pilot named Bodhi Rook (played by Riz AhmedA Night of), who claims he was sent by Jyn’s father to hand a holographic message in which he explains why he decided to work on the Death Star and reveals the secret about how to defeat it.

To defeat Death Star and comply with her father’s mandate, Jyn needs a team. Later she is tossed by a band of strangers, including Bodhi Rook; an I’ll-do-whatever-it-takes Rebel Alliance assassin named Cassian Andor (Diego Luna); K-2SO, a reprogrammed Galactic Empire analytic-strategy droid (voiced by Alan Tudyk) who is as peevish and pouty as C-3PO and Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory combined, but also has the ability to break a Stormtroopers’ bone with a flick of its hands; Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), a sightless but still lethal monk-priest and the protector of Kyber Temple who believes in the power of The Force and repeatedly chants the mantra, “I’m one with The Force and The Force is with me”, that reminds me of Padawan Ganodi from The Clone Wars; and Baze Malbus (played by Chinese actor, Jiang Wen), Chirrut’s loyal and stoic sidekick, but cynically (and playfully) mocks his belief for The Force.

Together this band of misfits (who later accidentally call themselves as “Rogue One”) is about to accomplish a suicide mission a la “Dirty Dozen” and sabotaging The Death Star from the inside. Of course, just like another monomyth narrative, we will witness Jyn’s and other character’s transition from apolitical survivors to active rebels to heroic martyrs.

Rogue One is directed by Gareth Edwards, a slow builder filmmaker who, as in his previous two feature films (Monster, Godzilla reboot), tends to build characters and their interaction with each other before finally bringing us to the big action in the third act. In his 2014’s Godzilla, for instance, he intercuts one character’s point of view to another’s introducing us their each perspective about what actually happens and Edwards patiently takes us to one understanding in the final act. Edwards works on the same pattern in Rogue One, although, more likely follows the same formula the previous Star Wars entries have done before (especially Episode IV). We get it that an established brand has a trademark to uphold.

But that’s the problem with Rogue One, or one of many problems.

The movie tries to separate itself from Star Wars movies. It somewhat displays a shade of dark in its visual palette that reminiscences of Scott Ridley’s Prometheus. It can be seen on the color of the wardrobe and K-2SO’s design, or the dim light of the exterior and interior sets. In spite of giving the impression of earthly life, the choice of coloring, in the result, also creates the much seriousness in its tone. Rogue One does ask us to take it very seriously. From the philosophical-poetic-encouraging-lines of dialogue (General Tarkin’s “We need a testamentnot a manifesto”) to the quasi-parallel metaphor to current political issue (the setting of Planet Jedha where Saw Gerrera and his separatist group live resembles Jerusalem; Gerrera’s team brief battle against Empire’ troops; and the way they dress, will have our mind reconnected to the conflict in Syria).

But in contrast to its appeal of being serious, the screenplay for Rogue One—written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy (the later also directed some re-shot scenes in this movie)—merely works on a soap opera-ish mechanism and without being constructed to sustain a serious logical consistency and reason. For example, there’s a scene when Diego Luna’s Cassian kills an informant whom he receives rumor about Jyn. The screenplay may try to emulate Cassian’s threatening persona and emphasizing his character as an effective assassin, like when Hans Solo shoots Greedo in the original 1977 film. But there’s no proper set-up for this scene, neither is a follow through. As if it’s just a mindless murder or a cheap narrative gimmick.

As a movie destined to answer the plot-holes in Episode IVRogue One tragically suffers the same fate. It’s hard not to notice some of its logically flawed narratives. For example, the Death Star plans are described being transmitted to Group One of the rebel fleet who departed from Base HQ at Yavin 4 only to send them on a ship back to, guess what, Yavin 4. Why don’t they send them directly to Yavin 4? Or in the most ridiculous aspect is the using of communication technology. Rogue One is set in the era of spaceship travels at the speed of light, but why do they still use radio HQ communication?

Rogue One, in fact, has a smart creative decision in using the theme of sacrifice as the narrative bridging to Episode IV. As the events of this film is set sometime between Star Wars Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) and A New Hope. The main idea in Rogue One is how a group of multi-ethnic-strangers willingly to work together in a team, forfeit themselves in a fight against tyranny, and their acts are only bound in hope for a much better future (“Rebellions are built on hope”, says Jyn to Cassian). But to make us believe in this idea, we need to believe in them as a team. We need to believe that they trust each other and share the same faith. And unfortunately, Rogue One is hard to convince us.

One of the most obvious problems why the movie fails to have us invested into the characters is because all of them are rogue characters and they’re distant in such a way that we never get close to any of them. Rogue One has the similar problem with Suicide Squad, in terms of the failure in building on-screen chemistry, they don’t provide enough time for their characters to hang out and interact on screen.

Sure, Jyn and her unlikely buddies are seen being together for a couple of times, but when they’re being on screen, it rarely made it a few seconds before the camera cuts away to a series of close-ups of his characters. And this happens precisely in the crucial moments when they are in process of assembling. It’s important to notice that, during the assembling process, how often the camera shoots the characters separately, then cut between close-ups of all of them, which isolates them in frame with no real human connection. The end result is we feel the lack of process of emotional integration or earnest compassion.

This is why the focus of making Rogue One as the continuation of Star Wars as a brand kills its potency of greatness. Disney and LucasFilm are more interested in establishing this film as the window display for Star Wars universe trivia by putting a large number of characters from previous installments in order to provoke hysteria from the fans. As much I’m hyped as a fan, the idea of cramming those recognizable characters (from that Mos Eisley Cantina’s duo bastards of Episode IV to Jimmy Smith’s Senator Bail Organa from Revenge of Sith who speaks no words at all) costs the dynamic loss. So often, camera work is designed only to provide the glimpse of those familiar characters in the midst of interaction build-up between Rogue One members.

Rogue One is indeed a corporate effort of incorporating George Lucas’ original trilogy mise-en-scene (the set, the props, the weaponry, the Stormtroopers, even some famous shots)—although it’s a very open-handedly welcome by fans like me—that feels like sacrificing the theme of sacrifice.

The level of seriousness in this movie’ tone also ruins the interaction dynamic between main characters. What makes the process of human interaction between characters in Episode IV seems to be believable is that they appear to be a group of cool persons who love to hang out around. The key is the lighter and humorous tone of the movie. We tend to blend nicely with someone we barely know if we share some laughter. That what happens in Episode IV, since Hans Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, C3PO and R2D2 meet in a hilarious and relax way. The result is their chemistry feels fluid and organic. Compare to the depressing and serious tone of Rogue One, that’s the reason why the character of K-2SO the droid appears as the scene-stealer since he provides a plenty amounts of comedy with his sarcastic and abrasive quips and he turns out, ironically, being the most human and fully characterized, even compares to his human companions. We as the audiences are attracted to K-2SO character and, not surprisingly, when he must die in the line of duty, we feel the loss and the grief, but we don’t feel the same way towards other characters.

As a Star Wars movie, Rogue One has no Jedi, nor the iconic lightsaber battle. But it has a plenty of The Force. The screenplay needs to use it as the usual plot device to make us condoning the deus-ex-machina moments. Jyn, our heroine, has a necklace with Kyber Crystal as the pendant. In Star Wars universe, Kyber is a rare Force-attuned mineral as the source of energy for Jedi ‘ or Sith’ light-saber. That’s the only reasonable answer why the deeply spiritual and an affirmed believer of The Force like Chirrut îmwe gets immediately emotionally connected to Jyn Erso.

Aside from its tragically indisposed first and second acts, Rogue One somehow manages to surpass the previous Star Wars movies failed to do. Visually.

The space battles, the x-wing dogfights, and the third act action scenes feel logical and magical. Hatched by LucasFilm/ILM visual effects supervisor, John Knoll, and shot by d.o.p Greg Fraser (Foxcatxher, Zero Dark Thirty), Rogue One is a kind of collaborative effort that impossible to execute before. Fraser’s photography feels functional and uses a lot of wide shots to evoke majestic views. Fraser also utilizes the perspective scale to intimidate audiences. What’s interesting is he differentiates the heroes and villains with his camera. He uses low angle shots to determine the villainous character, as if they look down at you under their nose, creating the impression pomposity and haughtiness. Meanwhile, Fraser shot the heroes from high angle shots, causing the illusion of self-effacing.

Fraser’s camera also brings us to see the vulnerable side of Darth Vader (James Earl Jones lends his voice again).Here, Darth Vader abandons his usual economic words and it feels so off-balance with his menacing aura.

Michael Giacchino’s score is another state of perplexity. His score feels anemic and hesitates between the needs to dissociate itself from Star Wars and to be in-line with the mandatory for the purpose of branding continuity.

Last year’s TFA is also functioning as the catalog for Star Wars brand. But, at least, it’s being honest in proclaiming itself as a platform of nostalgic. What hurtful about Rogue One is the movie betrays the concept of sacrifice and martyrdom as an act of barter for hope. To the contrary, this movie relies on nods as the foreground, but rarely lets our condolence to the unsung heroes touching the ground.

When a movie supposed to be a paean to a tragic heroic story or a gratitude to the unsung heroes, but we end up cheering instead of cherishing, we know this movie has a huge problem.

And that’s the problem with Rogue OneA Star Wars Story. A story of the forced gratitude in a mise-en-scene incorporated.


Reviewed at IMAX Kelapa Gading on December 14, 2016, in 3D

Running time: 138 minutes

A Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures release of a Lucasfilm Ltd. production. Producers: Simon Emanuel, Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur. Executive producers: John Knoll, Jason D. McGatlin. Co-

Director: Gareth Edwards

Screenplay: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy

Story: John Knoll, Gary Whita based on characters created by George Lucas

Camera (color, widescreen):  Greg Fraser

Editor:  John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olsen

Music: Michael Giacchino

Casts: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O’Reilly, Beau Gadsdon, Dolly Gadsdon.


Headshot Review : Fatigue Ammunition for the Amnesia Minds

” Ironically, like the title it carries, this movie shoots plenty of fatigue ammunition to my head that makes me simply forget about its existence on my way home from the theater.”

Movie is about emotional experience and sensation either it’s sad, anxious, fear, flinch or cheer. Once a movie succeeds in delivering a certain emotional experience or sensation to its audiences, it is said that a movie has set the bar for next movies to come to achieve.

A successful action movie delivers a specific sensation that will pump up your adrenaline and get you at the edge of your seat, screaming or having your hands tightly squeezed when you’re watching your favorite heroes fighting against some bad guys in a dead or alive battle on the screen. An effective action movie doesn’t necessarily require a drama or abundant of dialogues since the action choreography speaks for itself. A very good one offers you some subtexts within its action narrative that will make you care about the characters, the story or the world in it even more.

In the wake of modern action movies circa John Woo era, there are plenty action movies that have successfully set the new bar. Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, for instance, not only gives you a new paradigm of stylistic actions sequence (the hammer fighting in the alley, remember?), but it also has a depth self-existence psychological subtext. Jason Bourne Trilogy introduces the new approach in using the shaky-camera technique for shooting action sequences wrapped in a global political conflict. Even the no-brainer ones like The Raid, South Korea’s Man from Nowhere and John Wick have a human relationship and brotherhood sub-texts within their action narratives, aside from their visual aesthetics and inventive action choreographies. Those movies not only use the action and violence as their language but also give us some nuances.

So it’s understandable, then, if there’s a new action movie appears in cinemas, a common question pops up, “Could it pass –or at least achieve- the bar those aforementioned movies have achieved?”.

Headhshot, the new action movie by the dynamic duo Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stanboel, collectively well-known as Mo Brothers (Rumah Dara, Killers) who build their reputation as the fresh blood in the world of the slasher-genre movie, seems to be the new hope for genre aficionados to seeing the new gem of action. The trailers looked good and promising. But the final result? Unfortunately, it’s a let-down.

The screenplay, written by Timo Tjahjanto himself, works with the pitch : Bourne Identity with The Raid-esque style of action in blue and red neon lights visual ala John Wick meets Wong Kar Wai’s, Park Chan-wook’s and Takeshi Kitano’s aesthetic. Headshot follows the story of a character (played by Iko Uwais, The Raid), whom we see lying in a hospital bed in a coma. He was taken by local villagers to a small local hospital set in a presumably small island of pseudo-Indonesia and taken care by a beautiful kind-spirited doctor, Ailin (played here by a talented young Indonesian actress, Chelsea Islan). Islan tries to inject an optimism aura to her character that kinda reminds me of female characters in Japanese comic books. Her character is naïve, innocent, and hopeful, some qualities you can see in her sparkling eyes. In order to add some gravitas (or more likely a gimmick) to justify her character as a young intellectual, the script has Ailin reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

We know nothing about Uwais’s character, neither does Ailin. After two months lying in bed without any physical response, he suddenly awakes and reacts to some kind of bad memories from his past. It turns out that the young man suffers retrograde amnesia which means he can’t remember anything: who he is, what’s his name, or what makes him severely wounded. To make interaction easier, Ailin then calls him as Ishmael after the main protagonist in Moby Dick. See, there’s a connection here since both Uwais’s character and Moby Dick’s Ishmael share the same fate, banished and stranded in the middle of nowhere. At least that what Ailin is thinking.

A retrograde amnesic character and a pretty young woman seem to be a good scenario for developing a romance story. We’ve seen it many times before and we see it again in Headshot. It will be succeeded if this movie puts some inventive ways in exploring how Uwais’ character finds his memory back with the help of Ailin as a trained doctor. However, the amnesia, Ailin’s profession, and Moby Dick reference only serve as a faux metaphor and plot points to justify the action of redemption. We’re not invested enough to believe their interaction. Uwais, as good as he is as the action star, not actually a dramatic actor with a wide range of emotional displays to attract our empathy and his on-screen interaction with Islan, who’s poorly directed here, getting worse with lines of dialogue in formal Bahasa Indonesia that make them feels like reading than speaking. Hence, as the story goes and the mysteries surrounding Ishmael’s identity are finally revealed, we will hardly remember that Ailin is a doctor. It’s because she’s just another mistress in damsel.

As a good mistress in damsel as Ailin is, the film needs a sub-plot to put her into that position. Ailin decides to go back to Jakarta and tries to persuade Ishmael to come along with her. Her reason is for Ishmael to have a better medical treatment due to the fact that his photo-roentgen shows there’s a bullet in his skull and it needs to be removed as soon as possible. But Ishmael insists that he needs to stay and find out his true identity. He’s unsure if he’s a bad guy or the good one and he doesn’t want Ailin get in troubles.

Tragically, while on her bus trip, members of gangster ambush the bus, kill all the passengers and kidnap Ailin in a moment that reminds me of Denis Villeneueve’s Incendies. Later, we find out that the gangster work for Lee (played by charismatic Singaporean actor, Sunny Pang) who’s previously in the opening sequence showed as the intellectual actor behind the brutal gunshots prison break.

The plot then follows the bloody and sadistic bone-crushing journey of Ishmael to rescue Ailin, to find out his true identity and the connection between him and Lee.

At first, the choice of using amnesia as the framing device in Headshot seems to be a good and smart move. We, as the audience, are put into the blank page about what actually happens, just like the circumstances Ishmael and Ailin are facing, with series of flashback serve as the hints to Ishmael’s past. But as the revelation unwrapped, it is more just a gimmick than a clever storytelling and here’s the problem, there’s no really something called process in the way Headshot peeling the mystery.  Tjahjanto’s screenplay eventually and gradually introduces the villains bottom-up and the cruel man-eat-man environment in the gangster’s world, before the final showdown. The villains in Headshot, just like another modern action movies before it, are one-dimensional characters defined by their physical gestures or weaponry. There’s nothing wrong with it actually as long as the direction hits the spot and those characters are given enough distinctive qualities. But sadly, Headshot creates its characters so much on the template without really gives them enough room to evolve or to distinguish themselves characteristically. I know it sounds unfair comparing this move to The Raid (especially The Raid 2), but the comparison is inevitable since this movie also features a group of ready-to-kill baddies with relentlessly straight face, shout-out-loud talking voice (only to amplify the already disquiet quality of this movie), and exaggerated I’m-the-bad-guy comical attitudes, with nothing fresh twist in characteristic (and duly noted that this movie shares the same leading man and his reunion with that baseball-bat-guy and hammer-girl with similar archetype, except with a few lines). The movie tries to amuse us with one-liners and misbehavior gags from minor villains in which some of them work but mostly fall flat.  It’s because we already know the formula and when it’s coming.

As for the predictable gags, so does the action choreography. Iko Uwais and his team in this movie work sans his long-collaborator, Yayan Ruhyan. But the result is reminiscent of what we’ve seen before. The actions aren’t memorable nor inventive enough to make our jaws dropped. And the editing doesn’t help much either. There are numerous times when the editing feels not fluid in stitching scenes and they make me aware that the transition between scenes is functioned to apply practical effects, like the burned-face or sharp objects cut through one’s body. Actions need intensity and Headshot lacks of it.

The cinematography, directed by Yunus Pasolang, infuses enough beauty in Headshot, like in one (or two) particular moment(s) when he shoots the smoke stylistically. Pasolang frequently shots in symmetrical composition and combines it with frenetic camera movements. There’s a time his camera follows the action sequence in 360 degrees around a fistfight and it’s supposed to intensify the tension, but ends up being aimless due to uninspired action choreography and editing, in spite of interesting electro and Japanese-influenced music arranged by duo Fajar Yuskemal and Aria Prayogi (both of them also worked in The Raid series).

If I have to mention the most valuable player in Headshot, the honor goes to Sunny Pang. As the devilish character, Pang maintains his performance with enough nuance and for that, he is able to be harmless and deadly at the same time. His final showdown with Uwais’ character also deserves a credit. Here is the action sequence that actually works in this movie as the fight becomes sort of communication and emotional connection between two characters. Although it isn’t satisfying enough to convey the subtext within the vicissitudes conflict of loyalty and betrayal.

The title of Headshot refers to the bullets aimed at someone’s head, in this movie, it means literally or figuratively for the series of shocks it tries to offer. Alas, it doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. Ironically, like the title it carries, this movie shoots plenty of fatigue ammunitions to my head that makes me simply forget about its existence on my way home from the theater. And then I find myself amnesia.


Reviewed at Blok M Square XXI on December 8, 2016

Running time : 118 minutes

A Screenplay Infinite Films presentation in association with Surya Citra Media, Amuse and Nikkatsu Corporation.

International sales : XYZ Films, Los Angeles.

Executive producers : Sutanto Hartono, Haruhiko Miyano, Kenji Ishibashi

Producers : Mike Wiluan, Sukhdev Singh, Wicky V. Olindo, Shinjiro Nishimuro

Associate producers : Daiwanne P. Ralie, Jonathan Satyabudi

Production supervisor : John Radel, ACS

Directors : Timo T. Tjahjanto, Kimo Stanboel (Mo Brothers)

Story and screenplay : Timo T. Tjahjanto

Director of photography : Yunus Pasolang

Editor : Arifin Cuunk

Production designer : Iqbal Marjono

Music and sound design : Fajar Yuskemal, Aria Prayogi

Visual effect : Andi Novianto

Action choreography : Uwais team

Costume : Aldie Harra

Casts : Iko Uwais, Chelsea Islan, Sunny Pang, Julie Estelle, Very Tri Yulisman, Yayu Unru

Dialogues in Bahasa Indonesia and English.

Bridget Jones Baby Review : An Old Friend, We’d Like To Hang Around With

” It’s a movie about women and their complexity. There are certain points that women audiences will have a more comprehensive understanding on Bridget Jones Baby.”

Bridget is in labor! She now has a baby! Of her own!

Do I spoil the story? I’m confidently saying that I don’t spoil anything for telling you that Bridget Jones has a baby. The title says it all and it’s been on the news websites since December 2015. How can tell something that’s been a public knowledge considered as ‘spoiler’, the highest crime in cinematic experience?

And fortunately, Bridget Jones Baby’s opening scene keeps the tradition.

Our beloved Bridget Jones (by the one and only, Renee Zellwegger) sat by herself in a low light living room of her apartment. Her companies were just candle(s), a glass of wine, and a cupcake. It was her 43rd birthday. Yet she was all alone. There was no Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) with her. What happened? What did we miss after 12 years? She was wondering about her love life and we were about to hear her theme song of loneliness, Celine Dion’s All By Myself, a ballad that’s been representing her image for more than a decade. But, she decided to change the tune. Instead, we then listened to House of Pain’s Jump Around and watched her dance along to the music. Vigorously.

We smile because we’re seeing a character we’re familiar with. But we know, as she grows older, she has changed.

It’s been twelve years since the last time Bridget Jones, a likable self-mockery and self-pitiful fictional Englishwoman character based on Helen Fielding’s chick lit novels, entertained us on the big screen. Coincidently, it’s also been a few years since Renee Zellweger last appearance in movies. There’s a feel of longing and nostalgic in that opening scene. So, watching it is like seeing an old colleague we haven’t met for a long time. We’d like to say hi and know her story. Is she still an alcoholic and a frantic smoker? How’s her work and career? How is her love story going? What is it with the word of “baby” in her new title?

Bridget Jones is now a news producer in a television station she works for years. She’s no longer a quirky and awkward reporter like we saw in the inferior Bridget Jones : The Edge of Reason (2004). She’d like to claim herself as “top news producer”. She now looks slimmer and more mature. Gone are her balloon cheeks. But she’s still a 43 years old spinster. She’s also no longer Mark Darcy’s girlfriend, who married to a girl named Camilla (Brits hates women name Camilla for some reason. Camilla Parker Bowles, remember?). She hasn’t lost her goofiness, though. She even manages to do a “silly instruction” for her news anchor when she makes a phone call with one of her long friends.

One day, Bridget and her news anchor friend, Miranda, attended a rock camp festival at Glastonbury. Although she’s a “top news producer”, she fails to recognize Ed Sheeran ( that famous young British pop star, made a cameo role here) when she and her friend wanted to take their picture. She prefers Tony Bennett over Ed Sheeran whom she calls “someone she thinks she’s seen him once at Starbuck”. How could a top news producer like her know nothing about Ed Sheeran and contemporary pop music?

She’s Bridget Jones, anyway. She can do anything she wants, right?

After an embarrassing “the creature from the black lagoon” incident, Bridget Jones meets a hunk named Jack (Patrick Dempsey), an American online-dating-guru-millionaire who claims that he has found a perfect algorithm for matching a couple. That event followed by another “incident’ in Jack’s tent where Bridget and him playing around with his “puppet” for a few hours of delightful sex.

In Bridget Jones’ defense, she thought that she just acts as, “an elegant older woman taking a man for her own pleasure.” But she also admits that sometimes it feels scary still being on her own at 43.

Later, Bridget Jones meets her old beau, the British nobleman everybody loves, Mark Darcy. She makes love to him, too. Until one day, Bridget Jones finds herself pregnant.

The conflict is started here. The “who-done-it” question surrounding who’s the actual biological father of her baby, like we once saw in Mamma Mia (also a Colin Firth starred movie).

A Franchise, Post-Modern Feminism, and the Inconsistency

Bridget Jones story has established itself as a franchise. So it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if we will see a lot of familiar scenes from the previous installments. We will see Bridget’ Christmas family gathering or the scene in which Bridget tries to deliver a professional speech or presentation that would become a scandal like we saw in Bridget Jones Diary and its 2004 sequel.

Good and popular pop songs are also always being part of a Bridget Jones’ movie trademark. Here, you can hear various tunes, from Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud to Jesse Gylnne’s Hold My Hand, as another populist choice to relate the story to younger audiences.

A Bridget Jones movie is always a comedy focus on her embarrassments. The director, Sharon Maguire who also directed the first movie, understands it completely. Working on a screenplay by trio Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Oscar-winning actress and scriptwriter, Emma Thompson (who plays Bridget’s gynecologist here), Sharon doesn’t shy away from the previous concept. The embarrassing moments make Bridget Jones character feels earthy. But, when the story tries to place her as the center of affection and work ethic, it seems like it’s trying too hard and inconsistent with her actual behavior.

At several scenes, Bridget screws up her works by doing something, clearly, unprofessional. Like when she mixes up her presentation and interview subjects for her TV program. Her faults are something that clearly being a habit. How could a person like her be a producer, the highest rank in television business? Her professional status, then, is more like a validation for her mature age. Sure, later, Bridget receives the consequences she should’ve had for all the trouble she has made. But when the punishment comes to her, she even manages to deliver a speech about ‘integrity’. What kind of integrity should we expect to learn from her? The decision to put her as the center of every universe, unfortunately, makes her less loveable. Instead, I see her as a spoiled irresponsible egotist woman. The more the script pretends that she’s everything to everyone, the more illogical it seems.

There’s enough Emma Thompson’s touch in Bridget Jones Baby. Thompson is the one who wrote the screenplay for Ang Lee’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Emma’s last minute involvement in polishing the screenplay obviously pumps up the quality. Emma provides witty and hilarious social commentaries that feel relatable with current issues. Like Bridget Jones’ hilarious remarks on “hipster style” of her new young boss and co-workers. There’s also some serious feminist issues (as Emma put in her Sense and Sensibility screenwriting) in scenes where Mark Darcy (a famous humanitarian barrister) defending his new client, a “Pussy Riot” alike rebellious female punk group who yank their shirts off and snarl around London screaming out their protest to men dominated society.

Emma, indeed, loves to play around with the idea of the power a woman has upon men. Bridget Jones who’s expecting a baby, either Mark’s or Jack’s, shown as a woman blessed with the benefit of the doubt. There are funny scenes in which Mark and Jack are trying to show their genuine concern to the pregnant Bridget. This situation of ambiguity also creates some other humorous moments when Bridget attempts to keep Mark and Jack bumping into each other and learning the truth.

A story and character like Bridget Jones is created by women as their idealistic concept of how men should treat them. The concept of men should take every woman as they who really are, not just based on their physical appearance. And I’m nothing against it.

But the concept of post-modern feminism in Bridget Jones Baby is such a huge contrary to how the heroine behaves. Bridget is the person who declares that woman can take a man for their own pleasure. But yet, Bridget easily gives up when she’s experiencing a hard time. She doesn’t want to take advantages from her pregnancy, but yet she demands a help from guys when she wants to do a routine medical check-up.

The concept of feminism in Bridget Jones Baby gets more confusing when she, in labor, can’t get through female protesters who march along the streets and she needs to be carried by males (who stagger under her weight). The movie, at most of its times, is trying to be innovative, but then trapped in rom-com cliché. Like the times of Bridget gets trapped in traffic jam.

Put all that logical fallacy aside, Bridget Jones Baby’  irresistible charms come from its actors. Well, most of them.

Renee Zellwegger is always the pitch-perfect as Bridget. She has that kind of self-deprecating awareness that produces the comedy of manners. I’m kinda surprised when I found out her passage of time would be perfectly blended into Bridget’s personality. We can sense the feeling of a woman who’s afraid of her aging. Renee, herself, has been the object of media scrutiny for her aging physical appearance. Media loves to objectify her choice to have plastic surgery procedure. Renee, like Bridget, is a woman who has to face the call of nature, when the age slowly takes over her prime. Renee reflects her worrisome in Bridget. A 40’s something woman who lives in a man’s world.

And should we talk about Colin Firth? He’s the only actor I think of when it comes to a posh British male character who has elegance, intellectual, and sexiness at the same time. His Mark Darcy and Kingsman’s Galahad are the proof. Colin Firth is such an obvious choice for every female in Bridget Jones Baby, it’s because Patrick Dempsey can’t even match his aristocracy persona.

Mark Darcy is Sex and the City’s Mr. Big for Bridget Jones. I always have troubles to understand Bridget Jones’ perplexity in choosing him over other male characters.

I remember when I watched Bridget Jones Diary and its sequel with some friends back in my early years in college. Some of them were my female colleagues. I and my male friends addressed the confusion we had seeing Bridget’s confusion and dilemma over Mark Darcy or Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver. In our opinion, the choice was supposed to be easy. Mark Darcy was an absolute choice.

Our female colleagues provided the simple and effective answer to our cynical criticism, “ You guys simply do not understand women.”

We were shut out immediately. The answer was simple, but yet indescribable. And it describes what Bridget Jones movies are always about.

It’s a movie about women and their complexity. There are certain points that make women audiences will have a more comprehensive understanding on Bridget Jones Baby. The movie speaks to them, in the way male audiences (probably) can’t fully fathom. But the movie also has some genuinely funny moments that will have us laughed and had fun. For all its worth, Bridget Jones is like the old friend we’d like to hang around with. We simply can’t resist her charms.


Reviewed at Gandaria XXI on October 21, 2016

Imported and distributed for Indonesia market by PT. Omega Film

A Universal/Studiocanal/Miramax presentation of a Working Title production in association with Perfect World Pictures.

 Producers : Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward

Executive producers : Amelia Granger, Liza Chasin, Helen Fielding

Director : Sharon Maguire

Screenplay : Emma Thompson, Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, 

 based on characters created by Helen Fielding

Camera (color, widescreen) : Andrew Dunn

Editor : Melanie Ann Oliver

Casts : Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson, Shirley Henderson, Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, James Callis, Sarah Solemani, Gemma Jones, Sally Phillips

The Handmaiden Review : Lust, Caution, And Commotion

“For all those distinctive qualities, The Handmaiden is actually a commemoration of the art of storytelling itself.”

The Handmaiden is a hundred and forty minutes long art of deception. It’s a kind of movies that plays with your perspective. A story within stories that will have you engaged into a mind trick, challenge your assumptions and get you competed with your own intellectual.

It’s an idiosyncratic triumph of combining two opposite qualities. A celebration of paradox:  West and East; perverse and prose; art and entertainment; whimsical and melancholy; erotic and erratic. All at once. And all of those contradictions are beautifully blended into a puzzle narrative. You will wander its flow, until, at certain points, you may find the parapet. It’s the time when you will get your “aha moment”. For that, you will be smiling ear to ear and proud to yourself.

For all those distinctive qualities, The Handmaiden is actually a commemoration of the art of storytelling itself.

Every main character in this movie will tell you a story. There are four versions of the story here. Stories about acquisitiveness, resentment, lust, caution and commotion.

At first, we see the story of a young Korean woman set in 1930’s. It’s a rainy day and South Korea occupied by Japanese. We see some Japanese military troops are marching in a small village. The young woman is seen standing in front of a house, under the rain, where she faces some females who cry over her. She hands a baby to them. One of her female colleagues says that she should’ve been the one who’d be in her position. Not the young woman who hands the baby over. It’s an emotional dramatic scene that set our assumptions that this would be a story about a young woman who was forced to be a handmaiden. But, actually, it’s not.

The handmaiden’s name is Sooke (Kim Tae-ri). She’s a small woman with the innocent face. Soon after that scene, she’s sent to a mysterious mansion in the countryside. The mansion is owned by Kouzouki (Cho Jin-woong), a collector of antic and rare books. Sooke’s duty is to serve his niece, a beautiful and enigmatic young lady whose name Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee). Hideko is not just Mr. Kouzouki’s niece. In a mansion whose fusion architecture between European and Japanese style, Mr. Kouzouki prepares Lady Hideko to be his heiress and his future wife. The mansion has Japanese influences. There are sliding doors and a sakura tree in its pretty garden. But the front building is Victorian. So is the wallpaper. Mr. Kouzouki may speak Japanese, but he keeps the old Victorian tradition by isolating Lady Hideko in the mansion alone for himself, until (one day) he marries her.

The Handmaiden is directed by Park Chan-wook, whose magnificent body of works from Oldboy to Stoker. He has distinct traits for presenting his characters with goofy excess and caricature in both movement and dialogues. He also loves to play around with revenge, violent, black humor and unexpected revelations in his films. Chan-wook tends to bring abnormal sexual relationships in his films, as a satire for moral consequences and the expression of freedom. So, we know this movie ain’t no ordinary story about a handmaiden and her master.

Sooner, we will see another male character. He’s Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo), a debonair nobleman with many talents and plenty of charms. He gives Lady Hideko drawing lessons, but he sure has a hidden agenda and ambition, seducing her and slowly convincing her to be involved in an elopement. His ultimate goal is to claim her fortune. It turns out that Sooke is his ally. Her innocence look deceives us. Together, Count Fujiwara and Sooke arranged a well-planned scenario. They agreed to split the money they conceive, after sending Lady Hideko to an asylum.

Everything seems to be on plan until one day Sooke gets trapped in her own lust. It’s started with her curiosity and her demeanor towards Lady Hideko’s luxury. It results in a forbidden love and a betrayal.

As the story goes, things get more complicated and more facts will be unveiled. We’re just being eye-witnesses. We will be deceived, informed, twisted but finally, relieved.

Feels Like An Elegant And Artful Calligraphy Paintings 

All those illustrations are only a half of the whole movie. Not even close. There are so many doors and layers in this movie I would not dare to open to you since it would ruin your cinematic experience. Beneath its steady stream and eloquent back-and-forth storytelling, narrated by Sooke’s and Hideko’s voices, The Handmaiden is full of complex and unpredicted characters.

The Handmaiden is based on Sarah Winter’s 2002 novel, Fingersmith and adapted into a screenplay by Chan-wook himself and Chung Seo-kyung. The novel was set in Victorian London, whereas the movie takes palace in South Korea during Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945.  It’s a perfect adaptation, without losing the Victorian touch of manners and behaviors, blended perfectly with Japanese and Korean cultures and told in both languages. You can sense the shift between the two languages. You will not get lost in translation.

But there’s also Shakespearean nuance here and there. Like when Lady Hideko tells an erotic and voyeuristic story as if it’s a fan-fiction version of Romeo and Juliet for Literotica audiences. Or perhaps the sensual-grotesque version of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. The story involves a poison that will get us intoxicated and seduced, with an additional creepy wooden sex doll as an instrument.

Chan-wook brings some explicit and sadistic love scenes here. Like he once did in Oldboy, for example. But they are not vulgar in any sense. They’re beautifully choreographed and more as an act of curiosity rather than an act of bestiality. Like when Sooke and Lady Hideko made love for the first time, they were exploring and observing to each other bodies. Later, the love scenes are being doubled. This time they are as the expression of freedom.

Sooke and Lady Hideko serve as Chan-wook social commentary to the man’s world. Both of them live in a world where they must obey what men order to them. What they do in this movie is the epitome of rebellion. They realize that they are the owner of their bodies, sexuality, and destiny. They have their own rights to do everything they want to do.

Sooke represents South Koreans, and Lady Hideko is the personification of Japan. In here, they’re both equal. There’s no the hunter and the prey. There’s no the imperialist and the subject. It is perfectly in the context of what Chan-wook’s trying to tell us by moving the set of the story into Japan colonization upon South Korea. A non-subtle feminist statement from Chan-wook to the concept of imperialism. Allowing the story to pass an idea of Koreans trying to untie themselves off of Japanese and get a better life and social ranks.

The Handmaiden’s prolific puzzled narrative becomes an irrefutable fact of Chan-wook’s skillful creative decision in using match-cut and cross-cutting editing between two movements. The decision allows him to connect settings and time periods and they bring us to an assumption as they’re a part of continuum of time.

There are scenes where Sooke and Hideko went out of the closed-off boundaries of mysterious mansion Hideko has lived most of her life, to a joyous freedom at the outside in a fast cut between their side-by-side movements. That scenes show us what they’re feeling after being trapped in a golden cage for so long. Especially, for Hideko. The camera shots her facial expression. From the moment of hesitation into the feeling of liberation.

Chan-wook doesn’t shy away from the fetishism as his trademark here. There’s a fetish and pervert character represented by Mr. Kouzouki. This character allows Chan-wook’s tendencies of torture and gory scenes, including the one with giant octopus. But they are all anything but ridiculous. Each of these bloody elements serving as surprising elements akin for the tropes which never let us as audiences in guessing what’s coming after a scene passes us by.

The camera works by Chung Chung-soon are superb here. As well as production design by Seong-hi Ryu and costume design by Sang-gyeong Jo, who brilliantly embodies the fusion between Eastern and Western, through kimono or corseted silk-georgette gowns. The fusion that leads to a perfection.

Chung’s camera lets us wonder every detail of the world that Chan-wook builds. When it is in the mansion, the camera is crawling through its many sliding and secret doors, providing us a comprehensive geographical understanding to every corner and to every room. One time you think you’re already familiar with the site plan of the mansion. But then Chung’s camera brings us to another dimension by capturing moments and landscape from its ceiling. Giving us a very wide spectrum and textures of every single moment through Chung’s camera. Sometimes he invites us to see things from a small hole as if we’re spying on the characters. The Handmaiden is indeed about characters spying on each other in order to know their intentions and motives. I’m intrigued by some scenes where the main characters are wearing hand gloves when they’re doing something. Hands gloves in the movies are not only for fashion purpose. More than that, hand-gloves are showing their needs to keep their hands cleaned and being untracked. It’s because most of the characters in this film are not pure-hearted. They all have their own motives and agenda. When they get closer emotionally, they would take off their gloves. Chung’s camera perfectly delivers the illusion of espionage and they are all enriched by Cho Young-wook’s magically repetitive yet melodic score, playing the moods and atmosphere in the film to emphasize—either–hilarious, misery or dramatic moments.

The repetitiveness of Chung’s camera works and Young’s music are in tandem by the storytelling choice from Chan-wook. After the mid-duration, we will be reset to the early story where we would get another angle of the story from different passage points of view. We will hear another story from other characters that will bring us to a new understanding. We are given the choice which story we would like to believe. Even though there’s a single conclusion of what’s fate our main heroes will experience, The Handmaiden let us observing and being a part of the experience. For that, when we finally reach the final act, we will relieve and breath freely. As if we’ve been trapped in the same mansion Lady Hideko lives in and we eventually can escape from it. It’s because, like I told you in my early paragraphs, The Handmaiden is a magnum opus of the highest achievement in storytelling. Each person may hear the same story, but their interpretation of it depends on what they’d like to believe. Their interpretations come from their intentions.

At times, The Handmaiden feels like an elegant and artful calligraphy paintings Mr. Kouzaki owns in his mansion. The color feels surreal yet majestic. Mesmerizing yet playful. Like the series of beautifully haunting imageries that speak thousand of words. It’s full of prose and symbolic poetry as the homage to the process of creation of an art. But it’s not an artsy fartsy. It’s the true art for the bourgeoisie and also for bohemian.

For all its duality aesthetic glory, The Handmaiden is the most light-hearted film of Park Chan-wook so far. He’s like a fine wine. Along with his older age, the more mature he’s become. The movie is still his. I take Ang Lee’s 2007 movie as the title for my review. It’s because, plotwise, The Handmaiden reminds me of  Lee’s film. It’s about strong females character who live in a man’s world and trying to fight it but end up being trapped instead. They’re trapped in their own ambition, lust, and passion. But at least, Chan-wook’s characters can make it to the end and to pursue their own destiny. Like Ang Lee, Chan Wook is some of the very few prolific Asian filmmakers who could push boundaries. Their movies sans frontiers.  They provoke us, encourage us, strengthen us, and entertain us. All at once. At the same time. And that what film as an art should do.


South Korea) A The Joker, BAC Films, CJ Entertainment presentation of a Moho Film, Yong Film production. (International sales: CJ Entertainment , Seoul.)

Produced by Park Chan-wook, Syd Lim.

Executive producers :Miky Lee.

Co-producers : Yoon Suk-chan, Kim Jong-dae, Jeong Won-jo.

Co-executive producer : Jeong Tae-sung.

Director :Park Chan-wook

Screenplay : Chung Seo-kyung, Park Chan-wook

Adapted from the novel “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters.

Camera (color, widescreen, HD) : Chung Chung-hoon

Editor : Kim Sang-bum, Kim Jae-bum

Music : Cho Young-wuk

Production designer :Ryu Seong-hee

Costume designer : Cho Sang-kyung

sound (5.1 Ch.) : Kim Suk-won

 Visual effects supervisor : Lee Jeon-hyoung

Visual effects : 4th Creative Party

Casts : Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Hae-sook, Moon So-ri.   

Dialogues in Japanese and Korean.

THE BEATLES : Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years Review

“Directed by an Oscar winning filmmaker, Ron Howard, Eight Days A Week is not only a collection of footages and images. It tries to unveil a mystery. A mystery of why The Beatles has emerged as the humongous undeniably most popular band on Earth. In the end, it doesn’t really unveil the mystery. But it brought us to an experience.”

“..At the beginning, things were really simple”, says Paul McCartney through his voice while the footage of The Beatles playing at ABC Cinema, Manchester in 1963, appeared on the screen. But all that they did was anything but simple. They created an epidemic called “The Beatles Maniac”. They created hysteria.

McCartney’s voice was attached to the montage of shrieking teenagers who were attending the gig. They were screaming at the top of their lungs, expressing their hysterical feeling on every single little action The Fab Fours members were doing on stage. These teenagers adored their hairdo, their singing style, their confidence and their fabulousness. They were thinking that The Beatles represented them. Sure, they did. And The Fab Four was singing “ She Loves You” to all those shrieking teenagers. Most of them were females. Of course, the song only brought more explosive effect to them. As every word was sung, the volume of their screaming was increasing. Louder and louder.

That was a brief illustration from Eight Days A Week, another documentary movies about The Beatles. The original Fab Four. It’s easy to see this movie as a glorification for the most popular band in the history of pop culture. It does glorify them. But I see it as more as the juxtaposition on a well-known fact. The fact of The Beatles is one of the most influential musicians of all time.

Directed by an Oscar-winning filmmaker, Ron Howard, Eight Days A Week is not only a collection of footages and images. It tries to unveil a mystery. A mystery of why The Beatles had emerged as the humongous undeniably most popular band on Earth. In the end, it doesn’t really unveil the mystery. But it brought us to an experience. An experience I, as the much younger generation, didn’t have an opportunity to be into. A cinematic experience that Ron Howard successfully delivers the images and footages tailored into a narrative. Like he did in Rush (2013), a biopic movie that showed us his perfection details in sound design. In that movie, we could hear every single detail of sounds of a Formula One engines burst into work. And the fact that the opening footages were taken from The Beatles concert in ABC Cinema, is an homage to cinema. A great start for the cinematic joy we’re about to witness.

Using the concept of ‘crowd sourcing”, the project itself, then, can be seen as a manifestation of love and admiration for The Beatles. Through the eyes of their fans, reflecting The Beatles as the fuel for their life as the inspiration. An inspiration that—later we will recognize—triggered some of important political and society events in history.

A Crowd Sourcing Project

Eight Days A Week began in 2002, when producers called out the hardcore fans for their own documentation of events related to The Beatles. Ron Howard then came on board in 2013 suggesting the idea of putting together those documentations into a movie that spans The Fab Four’s career until their final ticketed concert at San Fransisco’s Candlestick Park in August 1966. The era when they were touring 25 days in a month in 25 cities in the US alone.

Using the concept of ‘crowd sourcing”, the project itself, then, can be seen as a manifestation of love and admiration for The Beatles. Through the eyes of their fans, reflecting The Beatles as the fuel for their life as the inspiration. An inspiration that—later we will recognize—triggered some of important political and society events in history. The inspiration for some of the big names who voluntarily gave their testimonies. Big names like Sigourney Weaver, Howard Goodall, to Whoopi Goldberg.

The appearance of Whoopi Goldberg giving her testimony in Eight Days A Week, brings such a delicate joy to me. There’s a little bit of “ Sister Act connection” here. I remember watching Sister Act (1992), a musical movie whom Goldberg starred in, back then when I was a little kid. There’s scene when little Dolores, a character Goldberg played in that movie, answered a question from her teacher. The teacher asked her who Jesus’ apostles are. The little Dolores then named “John, Paul, George and Ringo”, instead of naming the actual apostles. I burst into laugh to that scene. A brief scene that introduced me to the knowledge of how influential The Beatles really was.

Whoopi Goldberg provides her commentary from another perspective. The perspective of people of colors. A commentary from people who experienced an era when the United States practiced the “segregation policy”. A policy that would not allow African Americans be in the same venue with the white citizens. At one scene, Goldberg said that, “… The Beatles were colorless”. An African-American historian, Kitty Oliver who also provides her testimony, recalled her memory being able to attend their un-segregated concert in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 11, 1964, without having a concern about “ being a black teenage girl among white girls”. Their music gave her hopes. The music without limits and boundaries. A music sans frontiers.

In reviewing a documentary about a fascinating subject like The Beatles, it’s so easy for us being trapped in our subjectivity. I, myself, am familiar with their songs. I even follow their story. Mostly through their songs. Put all the subjectivities aside, Ron Howard successfully recaptures the atmosphere and the ambiance of events that’s been separated by decades from us. I can feel the crowd. I can sense the heat in the stadium where thousands of people gathered cheering and applauding. At some moments, I even can feel the sweat Paul McCartney produced in that famous suit. I can feel the hysteria. I can feel the massive amount of stress (and overwhelming feeling) The Beatles members were experiencing when they were performing.

It’s all due to the quality of storytelling.

“But what is more astonishing about Ron Howard’s documentary is the way he put a full respect to the original material. He understands that all of those documentations are too precious to be presented in such a raw concept. Instead, he enhances them.”

The Powerful Cinematic Experience That Celebrates A Good Life

The quality that emerges from how diligent the editor was in tailoring thousands of footages and images into a relatively comprehensive story. Some documents are precious and never-before-seen. We will see a Super 8 shot from a woman who attended their concert at Candlestick Park in November 1966. We will see some casualties in their concert where young female teenagers got passed out and bleeding when they attempted to break the barricades. We even will see the young Sigourney Weaver was shot by a camera when she attended one of their concerts. The footages are precious. The editing should be cherished.

Under Howard supervision, they filmmakers perfectly attached recorded voices of The Beatles members when they were doing interviews. Or when they were in the famous Abbey Road studio recording their albums. We can hear how cheeky and playful they were. Young spirits who just happened to do what they love to do. Created hundreds of songs that later will be regarded as some of the best. Songs that coincidently enhances the moments we will watch on screen.

Ron Howard was smart enough in presenting the footages of The Beatles in tandem with political events. The day John F. Kennedy was shot; The moment when there were a riot and demonstration from black people. It would give us a view of their music relevance to the political movement. The recorded interview that will lead us to the knowledge that Beatles themselves was against the segregation policy.

“It just seemed mad to me,” John Lennon said.

But, Ron Howard still gives room for their egotistical side. We can hear Paul McCartney’s admission that, “…we were more in our heads,”. Withal, they were just a bunch of young boys who enjoying their overwhelmingly popularity.

We can also see Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the only two key members of The Beatles who still alive, as they speak about what they felt during the hectic era. Howard assembles a hearty set of talking heads in this documentary, recalling their collective memories in series of engaging interviews about witnessing themselves as the biggest band in the world.

Ron Howard also didn’t forget to bring us back to the core of The Beatles. The core is a man  whose name is Brian Epstein, a legendary manager who brought them to the peak of their career. We are provided a glimpse of his contribution. But he forgets to bring the ex-members like Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe to the plate. They are completely dismissed and ignored. It’s an ironic eventually since they also contributed a huge part to The Beatles in the early of their career.

But, there’s a little bit of humor too. The moment when an American journalist had mistaken John Lennon with “Erick”. Or when George Harrison used John Lennon’s head as the ashtray. And Howard also brings the cinematic tribute, as we can see the appearance of Richard Lester, a filmmaker behind The Beatles movies,  A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965). Combined with clips from those movies, Lester recalled the chaotic moments he experienced when filming them.

We get a little knowledge (once again) when Ringo says they actually didn’t earn much money from their albums. Albeit, they collected greens from their vinyl sales.

If you’re a huge fan of The Beatles, there are nothing much more revealing facts in Eight Days A Week actually. You would probably know all the facts and information Ron Howard was trying to serve. We all know the out-of-context “The Beatle is more popular than Jesus” John Lennon was once said in an interview. You would also probably know that later in 1966, they decided that they were already enough. Or the fact that, later, they shifted their music into a more spiritualism one. As we can find in their “Revolver” album (my most favorite and their real “magnum opus”), when they put India sitar melody into some of their songs.

But what is more astonishing about Ron Howard’s documentary is the way he put a full respect to the original material. He understands that all of those documentations are too precious to be presented in such a raw concept. Instead, he enhances them. The color and sound are crystal clear. The result is vividly coming from the process of restoration. It feels like all of those footages and images and sounds are just taken recently. For this kind of quality, I also see Eight Days A Week as a celebration of highest achievement in technology. A celebration to the treasure in our culture history.

I said this in aforementioned paragraphs that Eight Days A Week doesn’t really unveil the mystery. The mystery that’s been surrounding what made them so wildly popular until today. But it does bring us to another understanding.

“Why do they scream?” a reporter asked the Fab Four in a footage. John Lennon and all of his fellow spontaneously answered, “ I don’t know!”. The expression was not only coming from their mouths but also from their gestures. There’s such a genuine & spontaneous honesty from the way they answered it. I believe they didn’t know. We still don’t know either.

In an interview, Howard Goodall (composer, Mr. Bean) says that volume isn’t really what The Beatles all about. The extraordinary thing about The Beatles is the amount of great melodious songs they’ve produced.  Among their hundreds of songs, around a hundred of them are great. Goodall later compares The Beatles to Mozart. It is not an exaggeration. It is a fact. And I agree on it.

All great songs The Beatles has produced that unites people. No matter where they are coming from. No matter what’s age. No matter what’s era. In Eight Days A Week we will see thousands of audiences in a footage taken from a football match in Anfield Stadium, in Liverpool, on April 16, 1964. They were all men united in one single harmonic voice singing “She Loves You”, the same song that brought hundreds of female teenagers into a mass hysteria at the beginning of the movie.

That footage was a huge contrast. A huge contrast that shows how The Beatles could bring thousands of people in a togetherness. It shows what a good music can do.

“ A lot of people thought we were an overnight sensation. We weren’t. People didn’t realize we all had this development. The just saw before…things. … and these all that we’ve been just doing. All these years. Previously, “ McCartney says again from the footage we previously saw when they performed at ABC Cinema. We are witnessing how powerful of Fab Four was. And still is. More than four decades after the gig, The Beatles has become a part of history. They are the phenomenon. Their songs will always speak about something. Their songs are still powerful and sung over and over again. Their music is universal and timeless. Newer generation relates to their songs. They still speak and represent a story. The Beatles isn’t just an overnight sensation. They are not only a bunch of attractive male teenagers who played music. They all are a group of talented musicians who worked hard and had discipline. They played something that they loved and they knew. They’ve created a culture. They’ve set the bar.

It’s kind of odd enough after watching Eight Days A Week, I’m thinking that it actually has a relevance to how we see young pop stars in the making today. It also works as a social commentary on how we–people who proclaim ourselves as the much better generation in terms of music–like most critics and media saw The Beatles when they first arose as a music sensation. They were underestimated. The same case with most of us cynically undervalued Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and other young pop sensations. In fact, we’ll never know where the wind is going to blow. Perhaps, someday today young artists will establish themselves as legends in the future. No one will ever know. We only have to wait. Wait for the times will tell if they will continue producing some other great works.

The film was closed by the footage of them playing “Don’t Let Me Down” from The Black Album. They performed it at the rooftop of their office. But, the 3o minutes of their restored concert footage in Shea Stadium, New York, in 1963 is the true gem. As the final credits rolls, you can hear McCartney’s and Harrison’s harmony backing Lennon on “Help!”, as well as Harrison’s guitar playing through in between. You can even saw the playfulness from Lennon, as he played the organ with his elbows. The audio and sound are remarkably wonderfully clear. It’s the real gem we’re, as the newest generation, experiencing.

And we couldn’t celebrate more like we can do with Eight Days A Week. She loves them. He loves them. We still love them. Like McCartney said, “ It’s not a culture. It’s a good life,”

Yeah, the movie will make us to value history, great songs and a good life. Yeah, yeah, yeah!


Reviewed at Cinemaxx Theater on October 20, 2016

Running time : 138 minutes

Imported and distributed for Indonesia market by PT. Athali Sukses Makmur.

A Hulu Documentary Films (in U.S.)/Studiocanal (in U.K.) release of a The Beatles’ Apple Corps Limited/Studiocanal/PolyGram Entertainment presentation of a White Horse Pictures, Imagine Entertainment production, in association with Diamond Docs.

 Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci.

Executive producers: Jeff Jones, Guy East, Jonathan Clyde, Nicholas Ferrall, Michael Rosenberg, Paul Crowder, Mark Monroe.

Co-producers: Matthew White, Stuart Samuels, Bruce Higham.

Director: Ron Howard.

Writer: Mark Monroe

Camera (color): Michael Wood.

Editor : Paul Crowder.

With : Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Larry Kane, Whoopi Goldberg, Elvis Costello, Richard Curtis, Eddie Izzard, Sigourney Weaver, Neil Aspinall, Richard Lester, Kitty Oliver, Derek Taylor, Howard Goodall, Jon Savage, Ed Freeman.

Wonderful Life Review : Perjalanan Yang Gagal Memantik Pemahaman Emosional

“Sayangnya, Wonderful Life gagal dalam memberikan saya suatu “pemahaman emosional”. Film ini terasa hanya sebagai pemaparan berbagai gejala. Belum sampai kepada sebuah hipotesis, apalagi diagnosis. Isu disleksia hanya sebagai plot device, bahkan terasa sebagai sebuah McGuffin.”

Wonderful Life, yang merupakan debut penyutradaraan feature Agus Makkie, dibuka dengan keterangan yang menjelaskan definisi ‘disleksia’’. Sebuah definisi yang di era internet saat ini akan dengan amat mudah ditemukan. Ada ratusan entry mengenai disleksi bila Anda mencarinya dengan menggunakan Google. Lewat laman situs, saya mendapatkan pengetahuan bahwa, “disleksia adalah salah satu jenis gangguan atau kesulitan belajar yang umumnya memengaruhi kemampuan membaca serta pengejaan seseorang.” Menurut situs tersebut juga, disleksia bisa dialami oleh setiap anak, baik dengan tingkat kecerdasan tinggi ataupun rendah.

Pencantuman definisi disleksia di awal Wonderful Life menunjukkan apa yang menjadi subjek utama penceritaan di film ini. Sebuah subjek yang semestinya akan dengan mudah menimbulkan rasa simpati dan empati. Atau setidaknya akan memantik sedikit emosi.

Sekarang ini, kita akan dengan begitu gampangnya mencari informasi mengenai ‘disleksia’ lewat komputer atau berbagai piranti lainnya, tentunya saya tidak tertarik menonton Wonderful Life hanya untuk diberitahu mengenai apa itu ‘disleksia’. Saya ingin mendapatkan sebuah “pemahaman emosional” melalui ‘disleksia” sebagai framing device. Bukan hanya sekadar pemahaman apa itu “disleksia”. Film adalah sebuah medium penceritaan emosional. Sebuah film yang berhasil adalah bila penonton terlibat secara emosional dengan ceritanya. Dengan karakter-karakternya.

Sayangnya, Wonderful Life gagal dalam memberikan saya suatu “pemahaman emosional”. Film ini terasa hanya sebagai pemaparan berbagai gejala. Belum sampai kepada sebuah hipotesis, apalagi diagnosis. Isu disleksia hanya sebagai plot device, bahkan terasa sebagai sebuah McGuffin.

Hal itu terjadi karena, alih-alih memfokuskan diri dari subjektivitas penderita disleksia (dalam hal ini seorang karakter anak bernama Aqil), Wonderful Life lebih memusatkan perhatiannya kepada karakter orang dewasa. Karakter perempuan, ibu Aqil, yang bernama Amalia (diperankan oleh Atiqah Hasiholan).

Kita sebagai penonton hanya diberikan “gejala-gejala” disleksia. Yaitu saat Aqil (diperankan oleh aktor anak, Sinyo) mencoba membaca sebuah buku, tetapi dalam penglihatannya, susunan huruf-huruf dalam buku itu terbolak-balik. Berpencaran kesana kemari. Atau saat Aqil menulis sederet kata-kata di papan tulis, susunannya terbolak-balik. Kita akan tahu bahwa Aqil mendapat perlakuan buruk dari teman-temannya karena kekurangannya itu. Kita nanti tahu jika Aqil memperoleh prestasi buruk di sekolah. Tapi, hanya itu saja. Hanya sebatas pengetahuan. Pengetahuan yang kebanyakan dituturkan oleh karakter lain. Kita tak pernah diajak masuk ke dalam subjektivitas Aqil. Kita tak pernah dibawa memahami emosi apa yang dia rasakan. Kita hanya melihat dari sudut pandang karakter. Kita hanya seperti melihat sekumpulan visualisasi informasi tentang penderita disleksia yang diperoleh lewat Google dan coba dimasukkan ke dalam adegan atau dialog. Kita hanya tahu bahwa Aqil tertarik pada berbagai objek yang dia lihat. Seperti belalang. Atau pepohonan. Kita hanya diberitahu bahwa Aqil lebih memahami medium gambar.

Bandingkan dengan film yang juga bertema tentang disleksia produksi Bollywood yang disutradarai oleh Aamir Khan, Taare Zaamen Par (2007). Dalam film itu kita diajak menyelami apa yang karakter Ishaan rasakan. Kita dibawa untuk mengetahui emosinya. Saat dia diganggu oleh anak-anak sebayanya; saat dia dibandingkan oleh kakaknya yang berprestasi; atau betapa gembiranya dia ketika mengorek selokan untuk mencari ikan. Sehingga saat perspektif penceritaan beralih ke sosok orang dewasa, kita sudah mendapat pemahaman cukup komprehensif apa yang dirasakan Ishaan sebagai penderita disleksia. Perspektif orang dewasa di film itu kemudian berfungsi sebagai penyeimbang. Membuat kita benar-benar memahami makna “setiap anak terlahir sempurna”.

Naskah Wonderful Life yang ditulis oleh Jenny Yusuf (Filosofi Kopi, Critical Eleven) dan merupakan ekranisasi buku berjudul sama, lebih membawa kita menelusuri “disleksia” dari sudut pandang ibunya. Seorang wanita karir yang terobsesi dengan pekerjaan. Amalia adalah salah satu CEO perusahaan agensi periklanan. Dia adalah seorang creative planner, yang bertugas untuk menyiapkan sebuah strategi kreatif bagi perusahaan atau jenama yang menjadi kliennya.

Sosok Amalia dalam film ini digambarkan laiknya petinggi di industri kreatif : modis, memiliki koleksi scarf keluaran Louis Vuitton, trendi dan resik. Dia ambisius dan sekaligus hypochondriac, karena tak pernah lupa mengoleskan tangannya dengan cairan antiseptik sehabis memegang suatu benda. Suatu kebiasaan yang hanya sebatas gimmick untuk menegaskan karakternya sebagai seorang pribadi yang maniak terhadap segala keteraturan.

Kepribadian keras dan ambisius Amalia lahir karena sifat sang ayah. Dalam satu adegan kilas balik yang menghadirkan sebuah dialog dengan mantan suaminya, kita tahu darimana sifat Amalia berasal. Sang suami berkata bahwa Amalia seperti ayahnya yang selalu menekan orang yang memiliki perspektif berbeda untuk mengikuti pandangannya.

Suatu ketika, Amalia dan perusahaan tempat dia bekerja mendapatkan sebuah kesempatan untuk mendapatkan klien besar. Salah satunya adalah Le Homme. Namun di waktu bersamaan, Amalia harus menyelesaikan permasalahan sang anak yang prestasinya di sekolah makin menurun dan kerap bermasalah.

Amalia digambarkan memiliki sikap praktis. Dia memang menyertakan anaknya ke berbagai terapi. Hasilnya tak memuaskan dia. Amalia ingin anaknya sembuh dan tak mau menerima pendapat bahwa disleksia tak bisa disembuhkan. Seperti yang diucapkan salah satu terapisnya bahwa, “ Permasalahan yang dialami Aqil bukan untuk dihadapi, tapi justru harus dijadikan sahabat.”

Hingga akhirnya Amalia mendengarkan obrolan karyawannya tentang pengobatan alternatif. Metode pengobatan yang mengedepankan cara klenik. Dari obrolan para karyawan itu, Amalia mendapatkan informasi bahwa metode alternatif itu ampuh untuk menyembuhkan berbagai penyakit.

Narasi kemudian beralih menjadi sebuah road movie. Amalia lalu mengajak Aqil, anaknya, untuk mencari pengobatan alternatif yang dimaksud. Ibu dan anak itu kemudian menempuh perjalanan panjang. Sebuah perjalanan yang, idealnya, akan membawa kita ke sebuah pemahaman emosional. Pemahaman emosional yang semestinya membuat kita mengerti alasan Amalia sehingga akhirnya menerima kenyataan yang dialami oleh buah hatinya.

“Dalam Wonderful Life terdapat dua karakter : Amalia dan Aqil. Ibu dan anak. Tetapi, seperti yang sudah saya singgung di atas, kita hanya melulu tahu subjektivitas Amalia. Kita hanya mengerti perspektifnya. Subjektivitas Aqil dan apa yang dirasakannya, tidak pernah benar-benar dihadirkan. Medium perjalanan semestinya menjadi sebuah platform untuk memadukan dua subjektivitas yang baik minyak dan air. Seperti dalam film Le Grand Voyage (2004).”

Tak Ada “Treshold Sequence”. Tak Ada Raison d’etre.

Di sinilah permasalahan sebenarnya dalam Wonderful Life bermula.

Sebuah road movie yang baik adalah tentang perubahan. Perubahan yang diwakili dengan sebuah pergerakan. Atau yang didalam struktur narasi ‘monomyth/hero’s journey” disebut dengan “threshold sequences”. Sekuens yang menunjukkan batas-batas emosional para karakter dan kemudian membawa mereka kepada satu perubahan emosi dan cara pandang. Perubahan karakter protagonis utama dari satu state of mind ke tahapan yang berikutnya. Sebuah perubahan yang didapatkan dari proses perpindahan dari satu tempat ke tempat lain dan kemudian membawa kita kepada sebuah pemahaman emosional tentang mengapa sang karakter mendapatkan satu pencerahan. Proses perpindahan yang melibatkan interaksi emosional. Interaksi antar lebih dari satu subjektivitas.

Dalam Wonderful Life terdapat dua karakter : Amalia dan Aqil. Ibu dan anak. Tetapi, seperti yang sudah saya singgung di atas, kita hanya melulu tahu subjektivitas Amalia. Kita hanya mengerti perspektifnya. Subjektivitas Aqil dan apa yang dirasakannya, tidak pernah benar-benar dihadirkan. Medium perjalanan semestinya menjadi sebuah platform untuk memadukan dua subjektivitas yang baik minyak dan air. Seperti dalam film Le Grand Voyage (2004).

Di Wonderful Life, kita lebih diajak masuk ke dalam subjektivitas Amalia. Kita hanya tahu betapa egois dan keras kepalanya dia. Bahkan saat perjalanan dengan Aqil berlangsung, kita masih diberi informasi bahwa dia masih peduli dengan pekerjaannya. Betapa dia masih menelepon rekan kerjanya; mengecek surel; berusaha mendapatkan akses internet. Saat kemudian Amalia sadar akan fungsinya sebagai seorang ibu dari anak yang butuh perhatian, saya tak yakin dengan perubahannya. Momen pencerahan yang didapat Amalia lalu terasa begitu cepat.

Permasalahan juga muncul dari motivasi Amalia.

Dalam sebuah road movie, dibutuhkan satu alasan narasi logis yang konteksual dengan karakterisasi tokoh yang akan menjalaninya. Dibutuhkan satu raison d’etre yang koheren dan relevan dengan karakter.

Amalia adalah seorang CEO. Seorang strategic planner sukses yang tentu untuk mencapai posisi seperti yang kita lihat di film, dibutuhkan kerja keras dan strategi. Karakter seperti Amalia adalah tipikal yang akan mengutamakan riset. Saya tak mendapatkan pemahaman yang relevan dengan karakterisasi Amalia di film ini, saat dia memutuskan untuk membawa anaknya menempuh perjalanan panjang dalam mencari pengobatan alternatif.

Perjalanan panjang yang dilakukan Amalia tidak hanya ke satu tabib. Melainkan ke beberapa. Termasuk ke salah satu “tabib cabul”, yang dihadirkan sebagai momen komedi dan sekaligus suspensi. Kita tak pernah tahu darimana Amalia mendapatkan informasi tentang tabib-tabib itu.

Bagaimana mungkin Amalia tidak melakukan riset terlebih dahulu? Bagaimana mungkin dia tidak menyelidiki informasi yang dia dapat dari karyawannya? Apakah tidak ada pengobatan alternatif di dalam kota (atau minimal kota terdekat) yang bisa dia kunjungi? Amalia bisa saja memerintahkan anak buahnya, karena kita melihat saat itu dia sudah memiliki bawahan. Terlebih sejak awal, kita ditanamkan informasi bahwa Amalia bukanlah seorang ibu yang telaten mengurus dan memperhatikan anak. Lalu bagaimana mungkin Amalia dengan segala informasi yang kita dapat tentang karakternya, lalu memutuskan mengorbankan pekerjaan? Dan lebih jauh lagi, kenapa Amalia –seorang terdidik, logis dan memiliki selera tinggi—bisa begitu saja mempercayai metode pengobatan klenik?

Saya tidak menemukan satu alasan kuat yang bisa memicu Amalia untuk menempuh perjalanan jauh. Saya bahkan tidak mempercayai perjalanannya sendiri.

Idealnya, keputusan Amalia untuk menempuh perjalanan akan membawa kita kepada suatu pemahaman bahwa dia memiliki tanggung jawab moral atas anaknya. Saya tak mendapatkan pemahaman itu. Yang saya lihat di layar, justru Amalia adalah seorang karyawan yang tak bertanggung jawab dan tega mengorban rekan kerjanya.

Dalam konteks logika narasi itu, saya justru bersimpati kepada karakter yang diperankan oleh Alex Abbad, sebagai co-director perusahaan tempat Amalia bekerja. Dia adalah sosok yang bertanggung jawab atas pekerjaannya. Apakah memang Amalia sengaja dihadirkan sebagai seorang karakter yang tidak untuk membuat kita merasa simpati?

Dugaan saya adalah bahwa filmmaker sengaja mengajak kita untuk mengenal Amalia di sebagian besar durasi film sebagai karakter tak simpatik, agar nanti kita mendapatkan sebuah perubahan kontradiktif di akhir film. Karena, nanti filmmaker berupaya keras memberitahu bahwa apa yang membentuk kepribadian Amalia adalah sebagai hasil “gemblengan” sang ayah.

Tetapi, upaya itu (lagi-lagi) dihadirkan lewat ujar-ujaran yang lantas membuat pengungkapannya hanya sebagai validasi. Hanya sebagai alasan yang tak membuat saya terikat secara emosional. Karena itu tadi, 80% cerita kadung menempatkan karakter Amalia sebagai sosok yang degil. Sosok yang keras kepala. Kita tak mendapatkan cukup waktu untuk meresapi proses transisi. Perjalanan yang ditempuh Amalia dan Aqil tidak terasa substansial. Terasa begitu cepat dan dipaksakan untuk melahirkan sentimen. Ditambah, saya juga tak diajak menyelami interaksi emosional antara subjektivitas Amalia dan Aqil. Karena subjektivitas Aqil diabaikan.

Saya juga tak merasakan sentakan emosi dari penampilan Atiqah Hasiholan. Dia membawakan perannya dengan gaya teatrikal. Pada beberapa momen, saya mengerti keputusan Atiqah dalam menggunakan pendekatan teatrikal adalah untuk memisahkan karakternya dengan dunia di sekitarnya. Bahwa Amalia memang benar-benar sosok superior yang berjarak dengan karakter-karakter lain. Namun, keputusan Atiqah mempertahankan gaya aktingnya itu berakibat fatal kepada putusnya interaksi emosional Amalia dengan Aqil di momen krusial. Saat seharusnya Amalia sudah luluh hatinya, dia masih terlihat berjarak dengan sang anak.

Gagal Dalam Memantik Pemahaman Emosional

Wonderful Life sebenarnya berupaya memberikan sentuhan satire. Kritik terhadap orang tua yang kerap memaksakan keinginan dan ambisi pribadi mereka terhadap sang anak. Kritik bahwa semestinya orang tua mau menerima anak mereka apa adanya. Sayang, satire tersebut tak menjadi efektif dan berfungsi. Karena upaya penghadirannya tak ditunjang oleh mulusnya peleburan antara wacana tentang disleksia dan tentang ambisi orang dewasa. Karena itu tadi, alpanya subjektivitas sang anak.

Ada beberapa simbolisme yang saya suka di Wonderful Life.

Simbolisme hilangnya sosok suami saat kamera perlahan-lahan menampilkan benda-benda yang turut menghilang satu per satu. Simbolisme tentang rumah sejati dan penamaan perusahaan Le Homme, yang dalam bahasa Perancis berarti pria. Dan bukan kebetulan, Amalia kehilangan prianya. Kehilangan suaminya di film ini. Merujuk pada Amalia yang individualistis, namun penuh gaya. Atau ketika kamera menyorot Amalia yang sedang berada di kamar di rumah orang tuanya. Kamar itu amat polos, sederhana dan temaram. Tanpa furnitur mewah dan berkelas yang mewakili karakter Amalia, seperti yang saya lihat di pilihan busananya. Seperti sebuah simbolisme tersendiri tentang Amalia yang, bahkan di usia dewasa, saat berada di rumah orang tuanya, dia tetap menjadi anak kecil yang masih diatur perspektifnya.

Agus Makkie, sebagai sutradara, memiliki pengalaman panjang di iklan. Lewat berbagai simbolisme yang dihadirkannya, saya paham bahwa dia terlatih menampilkan berbagai metafora dalam presisi yang cermat di narasi. Tetapi, film feature berbeda dari iklan. Film feature harus menampilkan emosi yang berkesinambungan sejak first act hingga ke babak terakhir. Emosi berkesinambungan yang akan membuat penontonnya kepada sebuah pemahaman emosional komprehensif, bukan parsial.

Saya lebih tertarik memaknai Wonderful Life sebagai kisah tentang perjalanan karakternya yang berupaya mencari rumah idaman. Rumah idaman yang menjadi tempat untuk menjadi diri sendiri.

Perjalanan itu memang berhasil menemukan rumahnya. Sayang, perjalanannya tak membawa saya kepada suatu pemahaman emosional menyeluruh. Sebuah perjalanan yang bahkan saya tak terlalu saya percayai dan kemudian gagal dalam memantik pemahaman emosional.


Reviewed at Blok M Square XXI on October 12, 2016

Running time : 79 minutes

A Creative & Co with Visinema Pictures presentation

Producers : Angga Dwimas Sasongko, Handoko Hendroyono, Rio Dewanto

Director : Agus Makkie

Screenplay : Jenny Jusuf

Script development : Angga Dwimas Sasongko, Irfan Ramly

Based on the book with the same title

Camera : Robie Taswin

Editor : Ahsan Andrian

Sound editor : Satrio Budiono, Djoko Setiadi

Music : Bottle Smoker, McAnderson

Theme song by Lala Karmela, Banda Neira

Art director : Yusuf

Wardrobe : Yuke Indriany

Make up : Notje M Tatiputra

Casting director : Meirina Arwie

With : Atiqah Hasiholan, Sinyo, Lidya Kandau, Alex Abbad, Putri Ayudya, Arthur Tobing, Abdul Latif, Toto Rasiti.

A Monster Calls Review : Balada Dan Tragedi Untuk Orang-Orang Yang Tersisih.

“Di atas permukaan, A Monster Calls adalah sebuah film fantasi. Tetapi, esensi kisahnya sendiri adalah sebuah puisi balada untuk orang-orang yang terkucilkan. Sebuah puisi balada yang menuturkan satu tragedi. Juga merupakan sebuah obituari terhadap sosok ibu yang semestinya menemani seorang anak saat dia tumbuh dan berkembang.”

Ada sebuah scene di A Monster Calls yang menjadi salah satu adegan kunci emosional di film ini. Saat Conor O’Malley (diperankan oleh aktor muda pendatang baru Lewis MacDougal. Sangat sangat bagus di sini) menyaksikan film King Kong klasik (1933) bersama ibunya (diperankan dengan sangat brilian oleh aktris nomine Oscar, Felicity Jones, A Theory of Everything, Rogue One) yang sedang menderita sakit parah di sofa di ruang tamu.

Sekuens ikonis saat King Kong berdiri dengan jumawa menghadapi serbuan pesawat-pesawat di atas Empire State Building itu diselang-seling ke tatapan mata Con (panggilan Conor) yang mengikuti setiap detailnya dengan seksama. Mata Con terlihat kagum dan tertarik ke dalam adegan saat sang King Kong menyapu bersih setiap musuh.

Scene ini hadir setelah sebelumnya Con disiksa oleh rekan-rekan satu sekolahnya, karena dia berbeda. Karena Con terasing dan terkucil dari pergaulan. Con dan King Kong memiliki satu persamaan. Mereka adalah karakter yang salah dimengerti oleh lingkungannya. Mereka merupakan karakter yang mencoba memberontak terhadap perlakuan masyarakat di sekitar mereka.

Dari adegan Con menyaksikan King Kong itulah kita akan tahu darimana kata “monster” dalam judul filmnya berasal.

Di atas permukaan, A Monster Calls adalah sebuah film fantasi. Tetapi, esensi kisahnya sendiri adalah sebuah puisi balada untuk orang-orang yang terkucilkan. Sebuah puisi balada yang menuturkan satu tragedi. Juga merupakan sebuah obituari terhadap sosok ibu yang semestinya menemani seorang anak saat dia tumbuh dan berkembang. Sosok ibu yang semestinya menjadi tanah dan bumi yang subur bagi sebuah pohon yang masih muda. Tanah dan bumi yang sayangnya terserang penyakit sehingga humusnya berkurang, serta membuatnya tandus. Kering kerontang. Pohon berusia muda yang seharusnya mendapat asupan rohani dari ibu pertiwi (mother earth) itu lalu tumbuh tak terawat. Tumbuh memang, tapi gersang dari segi kejiwaan. Con adalah pohon muda itu. Pohon muda tak terurus yang akar-akarnya kemudian menjulur kesana kemari demi menemukan sumber esensi dan mata air yang bisa menghapus dahaganya.

“Film ini bukanlah sebuah film fantasi berbujet mahal biasa. Anda akan dibuat menjelajah setiap sajian visual, menanyakan apa maknanya dan lalu membuat Anda merenung hingga akhir kisahnya usai.”

Butuh Sensitivitas Dalam Mengurai Alegori Dan Semiotika

Menyaksikan A Monster Calls memang dibutuhkan suatu kepekaan nurani. Dibutuhkan sebuah sensitivitas dalam mengenali berbagai semiotika kehidupan dan alegori emosional yang tersembunyi dalam suguhan visual memukau. Film ini bukanlah sebuah film fantasi berbujet mahal biasa. Anda akan dibuat menjelajah setiap sajian visual, menanyakan apa maknanya dan lalu membuat Anda merenung hingga akhir kisahnya usai.

Conor adalah seorang anak tak beruntung. Ayahnya (diperankan oleh Toby Kebbell) meninggalkan dia saat masih kecil. Conor adalah produk dari hubungan gejolak jiwa muda. Saat kedua orangtuanya mengambil keputusan untuk mengejar ambisi masing-masing, Con lalu yang menjadi korban.

Ada sebuah sentilan kepada generasi muda yang memutuskan untuk menikah muda dalam film ini. Sebuah sentilan yang akan membuat kaum muda memikirkan kembali keputusan untuk menikah dan membangun sebuah keluarga. Apakah secara emosional kita bisa memikul tanggung jawab? Apakah keputusan itu hanya berlandaskan gejolak jiwa muda yang masih menggebu-gebu? Atau merupakan sebuah keputusan yang lahir dari proses menimbang dan mengukur?

Con adalah contoh dari sebuah generasi yang lahir dari sebuah keputusan terburu-buru.

Jauh dari kasih sayang seorang ayah dan kelembutan seorang ibu yang harus berjuang melawan penyakit, Con lalu bak pohon muda yang kering. Dia gemar menyendiri. Satu-satunya tempat dia menumpahkan isi hati adalah lewat medium kertas yang ia penuhi dengan berbagai sketsa cat air. Sketsa yang mewakili kegundahan hatinya. Sketsa yang lahir saat dia menyaksikan penderitaan ibundanya yang berjuang melawan sakit.

Con yang masih teramat muda belumlah mengerti apa yang dirasakan oleh ibundanya. Dia hanya tahu sebagian kecil saja saat mendengar perbincangan ibunya dengan sang ayah. Atau lewat pembicaraan sang ibu dengan neneknya (diperankan oleh Sigourney Weaver). Con hanya bisa mengintip lewat celah pintu yang terbuka dan melihat bahwa sosok ibunya kini semakin lemah. Con masih dianggap terlalu kecil untuk mengetahui yang sebenarnya. Tapi orang dewasa tak pernah mengetahui bahwa kejadian itu membuat dia sebagai pihak yang paling menderita. Tak ada orang dewasa yang memahaminya. Tak ada orang dewasa yang mau meluangkan waktu sebentar untuk mendengarkan jeritannya.

Satu-satunya yang mau mengajaknya bicara adalah sesosok monster berwujud kayu yew (taxus baccata ) yang menjulang tinggi, bermata merah dan ronga-rongganya mengeluarkan cahaya merah menyala. Sesosok monster yang wujudnya seperti gabungan antara Groot, Ent di trilogi Lord of The Rings dan mahluk Swamp Thing di komik DC. Monster yang disuarakan oleh Liam Neeson ini selalu muncul saat Con memanggil dan sudah dihimpit amarah tak terkendali. Monster Yew ini lalu menceritakan tiga buah kisah. Saat ketiga kisah itu sudah selesai, Monster Yew mengharuskan Con menuturkan kisah keempat.

Kisah keempat yang hanya bisa diceritakan bila Con sudah mengerti apa yang dialaminya. Saat Con sudah bisa memaknai hidup dan jujur pada diri sendiri.

“Dalam beberapa aspek, cara kamera Oscar Faura bekerja dalam A Monster Calls mengingatkan saya kepada karya agung sineas Swedia, Ingmar Bergmann, yang dirilis pada tahun 1983, Fanny and Alexander.”

Pengaruh Ingmar Bergman

A Monster Calls merupakan ekranisasi buku berjudul sama yang naskahnya ditulis oleh Patrick Ness. Film ini tidak hanya mampu menghadirkan jiwa novelnya, tetapi memperkaya. Menambahkan dimensi dan keindahan puitis lewat kamera arahan Oscar Faura yang secara konsisten mengambil setiap gambar lewat low dan wide angle. Memberikan keindahan sinematis yang makin disempurnakan oleh pengarah rancangan produksi pemenang Oscar, Eugenio Caballero (Pan’s Labyrinth) lewat sentuhan bergaya gothic yang selaras dengan atmosfer kegelapan dan amarah dalam jiwa Con. Menghadirkan elemen mimpi dan dunia fantasi seperti dalam sebuah mimpi buruk. Meski lewat goretan warna pastel yang seperti dihadirkan oleh cat air, saat sekuens animasi membawa kita mendalami interaksi antara Con dan sang Monster Pohon Yew.

Dalam beberapa aspek, cara kamera Oscar Faura bekerja dalam A Monster Calls mengingatkan saya kepada karya agung sineas Swedia, Ingmar Bergmann, yang dirilis pada tahun 1983, Fanny and Alexander. Film Bergman itu juga menghadirkan satu karakter yang menciptakan dunia magis dalam pikirannya. Sama seperti A Monster Calls, film itu juga berbicara tentang teror eksistensi dari perspektif seorang anak. Sama seperti Ingmar Bergman yang dalam film-filmnya, memiliki obsesi tersendiri untuk mengupas berbagai peristiwa penting lewat celah pintu yang terbuka. Seperti Con yang hanya memiliki pengetahuan parsial tentang konflik orang dewasa dengan mengintip dan mencuri dengar.

Memang naskah karya Ness dan pengarahan jenius J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible) sedari frame awal film menceritakan kisahnya dari sudut pandang Con. Membawa kita mengikuti tragedi seorang anak yang terasing dan terkucilkan lewat kamera Oscar Faura.

Oscar kerap menyorot benda-benda sepele dalam film ini. Seperti ujung pensil. Atau jam tangan digital di pergelangan tangan kiri Con dan jam dinding kayu analog berusia ratusan tahun di ruang tamu rumah milik neneknya.

Berbagai shot “remeh temeh” itu bukannya tidak memiliki arti. Bukan hanya sekadar ingin menangkap momen demi suatu ambisi dalam menghadirkan nuansa artistik yang banal dan sekadar artsy fartsy.

Extra close-up shots ke pensil yang digerakkan oleh tangan Con saat dia menggambar berbagai objek, misalnya. Pensil yang terbuat dari kayu itu saya lihat sebagai alegori dari jiwa Con. Jiwa satu pohon muda kering kerontang yang bergerak secara abstrak. Sebuah pergerakan tanpa arah karena terombang-ambing oleh duka nestapa yang tak bisa diungkapkan. Pensil adalah sebuah alat yang terbuat dari kayu. Yang hanya bisa bergerak dan berfungsi di tangan seseorang yang memiliki imajinasi. Sama seperti karakter Con. Pensil dan imajinasi adalah satu-satunya sahabat Con. Tanpa keduanya, Con mungkin tak bisa bertahan lama.

Di lain pihak, jam tangan digital dan jam besar analog yang menghiasi ruang tamu rumah nenek Con menjadi alegori, sekaligus satire tersendiri.

Dalam sebuah adegan, karakter sang nenek milik Sigourney Weaver bercerita bahwa jam analog berumur lebih dari seratus tahun itu memberikan akurasi waktu yang tak bisa ditandingi oleh jam moderen manapun. Sebuah jam kuno yang akan tetap hidup bila terus diputar oleh manusia. Bukan bekerja dengan baterai. Jam yang kerangkanya terbuat dari kayu pohon yang tumbuh di atas bumi pertiwi.

Di satu sisi, saya melihat jam kayu itu adalah metafora dari kehidupan di rumah tempat tinggal Con. Sebuah benda antik yang telah memberikan informasi waktu secara akurat selama beberapa generasi. Sebuah benda yang telah menemani akar kehidupan Con selama ini. Sebuah benda bernilai seni yang terbuat dari kayu kering. Sama keringnya dengan kehidupan di dalam keluarga Con.

Dalam satu adegan, Con menghancurkan jam tersebut saat amarahnya sudah memuncak. Karena dia melihatnya sebagai personifikasi sang nenek yang kolot dan teratur. Sang nenek yang sebenarnya menyayangi Con dengan caranya sendiri. Ketiadaan komunikasi yang kemudian membuat hubungan emosional mereka terputus. Con diwakili oleh jam tangan digital, sedang sang nenek diwakili oleh jam tangan analog.

Di sisi lain, saya juga melihat jam tangan analog dan jam tangan digital adalah sebuah sentilan Bayona terhadap teknologi filmmaking analog dan digital. Persepsi saya itu beralasan saat seusai Con mengumpulkan puing-puing jam kayu analog yang telah dihancurkannya, kamera menyorot secara khusus jam tangan digital Con. Seolah mewakili pendapat pribadi Bayona tentang teknologi filmmaking analog akan tak tergantikan secara artistik oleh teknologi digital.

Kamera Oscar Faura memang menghadirkan kedalaman puitis sebuah sajian visual. Ada satu momentum saat Con yang sudah letih tertidur di bawah pohon, lalu secara perlahan kamera meninggalkannya. Menunjukkan bahwa Con menemukan “rumah yang sebenarnya” di pohon yew itu. Atau saat Con bersama neneknya berada di dalam mobil, hendak menuju rumah sakit untuk menengok sang ibu. Perjalanan mereka terhenti di perlintasan kereta api. Menunjukkan bahwa terkadang kita mesti memberikan waktu kepada satu kejadian yang lewat di hadapan, agar kita bisa sejenak meresapi makna hidup. Con dan neneknya lalu berbincang dalam sebuah situasi emosional. Mereka kembali saling berkenalan satu sama lain. Mengenali satu sisi masing-masing yang selama ini dihalang sebuah praduga. Betapa indah dan dramatisnnya shot ini.

Keindahan A Mosnter Calls juga hadir karena kepiawaian dan kejelian Bayona dalam mengatur ritme film. Menghadirkan variasi pace, tone dan visual. Ambil contoh saat Con belajar mengenai kerasnya realita hidup saat dia kehilangan orang yang disayangi, palette warna dan visual filmnya meninggalkan animasi bak cat air ke sebuah realita. Sebuah realita yang sebenarnya dalam pikiran Con masih seperti mimpi buruk, di mana tanah tempatnya berpijak terbelah dan benda-benda di sekelilingnya luluh lantak.

Visual tersebut amatlah kontras bila dibandingkan saat Monster Pohon Yew masih mengajari Con tentang konsep hidup lewat tiga kisah yang diceritakannya. Sebuah kisah yang menghadirkan raja-raja dan apoteker, di mana sang monster mengajari Con bahwa hidup tak melulu dibagi dalam dikotomi “hitam-putih”, “jahat-baik”. Tiga kisah tersebut dihadirkan dalam tiga segmen animasi berwarna pastel dengan desain bergaya gothic yang “menyeramkan”. Membangun sebuah dongeng tentang tragedi yang masih selaras dengan semangat “bermain-main” seorang anak. Bukan dalam gaya animasi Disney yang ceria. Sesuai dengan pelajaran dari sang monster bahwa dalam hidup, batasan antara kebaikan dan kejahatan seringkali kabur.

Tak ada yang benar-benar baik atau benar-benar jahat. Kebanyakan orang berada di garis batas antara keduanya, “ demikian ujar sang monster yang disuarakan dengan wibawa penuh otoritas oleh Liam Neeson.

Liam Neeson adalah salah satu bukti bahwa A Monster Calls ditopang oleh kemampuan akting para pemerannya. Hanya suara Neeson yang hadir, fisiknya sudah digantikan oleh animasi. Tapi suara Neeson yang khas sudah amat mengintimidasi. Benar-benar menghidupkan sang Monster Pohon Yew yang menjadi teman, sekaligus guru.

Felicity Jones memang tampil sebagai karakter minor di film ini. Namun saat dia tampil di layar, dia berhasil menghadirkan sebuah karakter yang tersiksa oleh sakit dan masih ingin menampilkan semangat hidup demi sang anak. Jones berhasil menghadirkan seorang ibu yang lembut dan penuh kasih sayang. Bahkan enerjinya bertambah kuat justru saat dia tak ada di layar.

Resonansi emosional itu memang tercipta karena dinamika Jones dengan Lewis MacDougal sebagai Con. Lewis secara luar biasa berhasil menghidupkan karakternya yang memiliki kompleksitas emosi sebagai seorang anak yang haus kasih sayang, tapi tak bisa mendapatkannya. Kita bisa merasakan sakit yang dialami Con. Lewis bahkan mampu memindahkan rasa sakit milik karakter Jones melalui wajahnya. Momen saat Con hendak melepas sang ibu, membuat dada saya sesak karena himpitan emosi. Emosi yang akhirnya bisa saya lepaskan melalui air mata yang tertumpah deras. Emosi yang masih saya rasakan bahkan setelah filmnya usai.

A Monster Calls menghadirkan emosi yang jauh lebih kuat karena lahir dari suatu akumulasi. Saya bisa merasakan pahitnya hidup Con. Rasa terasingnya dia dari lingkungan. Amarah dan putus asanya. Akumulasi emosi tersebut kemudian tak tertahankan lagi di akhir film.”

Puisi Tentang Balada Dan Tragedi Saat Kita Merasa Tersisih

Emosi memang pernah saya rasakan seusai menonton Pete’s Dragon. Tapi masih sebuah emosi yang kemudian masih bisa saya atur, karena momen itu hadir di awal film.

A Monster Calls menghadirkan emosi yang jauh lebih kuat karena lahir dari suatu akumulasi. Saya bisa merasakan pahitnya hidup Con. Rasa terasingnya dia dari lingkungan. Amarah dan putus asanya. Akumulasi emosi tersebut kemudian tak tertahankan lagi di akhir film. Saya merasa bagian dari cerita. Saya merasa menjadi bagian perjalanan hidup Con. Kisah hidup Con yang saya yakin masih terus membayangi.

Kisah hidup Con memang bisa saya alami. Bisa pula Anda alami. Kita semua pernah merasakan putus asa teramat berat yang kita tak tahu dengan siapa kita bisa berbagi. Saat semua orang tak memiliki waktu untuk mendengarkan keluh kesah kita. Saat itulah kita hanya bisa berbagi dengan diri kita sendiri. Dengan imajinasi yang kita miliki. Dengan satu-satunya yang bisa menerima kita apa adanya.

Bayona memang piawai dalam memasukkan sebuah cerita tentang kehidupan yang keras dalam bingkai sebuah teror dan horor. Seperti yang dia lakukan di Orphanage dan The Impossible. Teror dan horor yang bisa kita temui di kehidupan sehari-hari. Teror dan horor yang harus berani kita hadapi di kehidupan nyata.

A Monster Calls adalah sebuah karya agung dari Bayona. Sebuah masterpiece ekspresionis yang menghibur, tragis dan membuat kita patah hati. Score-nya yang melodius pun akan menjadi sebuah theme-song moderen bagi orang-orang yang tersisihkan seperti Con.

Con bukan satu-satunya orang yang tersisih dalam A Monster Calls. Ibu, nenek, dan ayahnya juga tersisih dari orang yang disayangi. Ibu Con tersisih karena penyakitnya; sang nenek tersisih karena sikap dinginnya; dan ayahnya tersisih karena ambisinya. Rasa tersisih yang kemudian membuat mereka menampilkan “monster” di masing-masing diri mereka.

Ya. Monster dalam film ini adalah sebuah alegori dari sisi gelap kita sebagai manusia. Setiap kita memiliki monster yang akan terbangun bila kita panggil. Tapi kita bisa mengendalikan monster itu. Kita bisa mengajaknya berdiskusi dan berdialog. Kita bisa mengajaknya membuat sebuah puisi. Puisi tentang balada dan tragedi saat kita merasa tersisih.


Reviewed at Gandaria XXI on October 13, 2016

Running time : 108 minutes

 A Focus Features release and presentation, in association with Participant Media, River Road Entertainment, of an Apaches Entertainment, Telecino Cinema, A Monster Calls AIE, La Trini production.

Executive producers : Patrick Ness, Jeff Skoll, Bill Pohlad, Jonathan King, Mitch Horwits, Patrick Wachsberger, Énrique López-Lavigne, Ghislain Barrois, Álvaro Augustin.

Producer : Belén Atienza.

Director : J.A. Bayona

Screenplay : Patrick Ness

Based on the same novel by Patrick Ness

Original idea : Siobhan Dowd

Camera (color, widescreen) : Oscar Faura

Editors : Bernat Vilaplana, Jaume Marti

Music : Fernando Velasquez

Production designer : Eugenio Caballero

Animation sequence director : Adrián García

Casts : Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson, Toby Kebbell, Ben Moor, James Melville, Oliver Steer, Dominic Boyle, Jennifer Lim, Geraldine Chaplin.