The living landscape of Jakarta in Leonard Retel Helmrich's documentary triptych

Annelies van Noortwijk*, Vincent Ros

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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    Focusing on the lives of three generations of a lower-class Indonesian family, Leonard Retel Helmrich’s documentary triptych Eye of the Day (2001), Shape of the Moon (2004) and Position Among the Stars (2010) offers a unique insight into the hectic life of the slums of Jakarta, presenting its landscape as a living, breathing organism; a landscape of people. Utilizing an innovative cinematographic style referred to as ‘Single Shot Cinema’, these films give a perspective on Indonesia that is at once intimate, spectacular, personal and immersive. To the cursory eye, this project may appear to be reliving the impossible dream of Direct Cinema. Yet rather than pursuing an outdated and unattainable ideal of objective documentary, these films embrace a broader, more inclusive concept of reality, of which the intuitive, subjective perspective of the filmmaker forms as much a part as the events that are represented. These films, we argue, can therefore be seen as exemplary of a ‘subjective turn’ that is taking place in documentary filmmaking, which entails a re-evaluation and repositioning of the role of documentary subject, from passive subject or victim of social circumstance to active, empowered individual. This development furthermore encompasses a ‘metamodern’ rethinking of the purpose of documentary, beyond a postmodern disillusionment with the project of capturing ‘reality’ singular and towards the embracement of subjective, personal, and pluralistic perspectives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFilmurbia
    Subtitle of host publicationScreening the Suburbs
    PublisherPalgrave MacMillan
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9781137531759
    ISBN (Print)9781137531742
    Publication statusPublished - 22-Apr-2017

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