A biopic of Indonesia’s third president, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, illuminates his lifelong devotion to his wife.
The movie, Habibie & Ainun, opens with a rickshaw ride on a rainy night in Bandung, West Java, in the 1960s. Habibie (played by Reza Rahadian) asks Ainun (Bunga Citra Lestari) to marry him and to join him on his trip to Germany.
“I can’t promise you the world. I can’t promise you that we will have an easy life. I don’t know if you can have your practice there, but I promise you that I will be the best husband for you,” says a steadfast Habibie to his future wife during his proposal of marriage to her.
Ainun replied the vow with a promise that she might not always be the best wife, but she would always be on his side, no matter what.
Following the proposal, Habibie, who already had a life in Germany, married Hasri Ainun Besari on May 12, 1962 and brought her to Aachen, Germany, to start a new life as a couple. At that time, Ainun, who was a doctor, decided to fully dedicate herself to her husband and gave up her medical practice.
The scene in the movie, which is adapted from an autobiography of Habibie, brings a clear message to the audience that anything is possible in the name of love.
A match made in heaven is possibly the best term to describe the relationship of Habibie and Ainun.
Having known each other since childhood where they spent junior and high school together in Bandung, Habibie seemed to be the one for Ainun, and vice versa.
Nevertheless, in their formative years their relationship was not always plain sailing, which is common during school. A young Habibie once called Ainun “hitam, seperti gula jawa”, a fair-skinned girl who looked like brown sugar. But Ainun wasn’t bothered by it.
Before being reacquainted with Ainun and marrying her in 1962, Habibie struggled for his degrees at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. He had to return home for several months to properly recover from tuberculosis.
It was the shortest and yet the sweetest moment for Habibie as he met Ainun again in Bandung and married her almost all at once.
Heading back to Aachen, Habibie continued his professional life as an engineer. Expecting their first son, who they later named Ilham Akbar, life wasn’t easy for the couple.
Habibie had to take an extra job to support his family. To save money, he often walked home for about 15 kilometers, even in heavy snow.
Habibie knew that he could not give up amid such a challenging situation. He believed that his love, Ainun, was waiting patiently for him at home.
Amid their struggle, there was a moment where Ainun wanted so badly to go home, which would have made it easier for her husband to reach his dream of becoming an aeronautical expert in Germany. But Habibie would not accept this and encouraged his wife to stay strong and to continue to accompany him in Germany.
After the couple did return home, Habibie became an executive officer of the new state-owned aviation enterprise — Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (IPTN) — which was then famous for its N250, or Gatot Kaca, local airplane. Afterward, Habibie became research and technology minister, the country’s vice president and later president in 1998-1999 following the fall of Soeharto.
During most of his government service, Habibie faced various challenges, including bribery.
Habibie stepped down from the presidency in October 1999 as soon as the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) rejected his presidential report. After stepping down, Habibie thought it was time to now focus on his wife. Ainun had taken care of him wonderfully for most of her life as his wife.
Rising actor Reza gives a flawless representation of Habibie – in terms of both gestures and his peculiar way of talking.
Film director Faozan Rizal said that it was a true challenge for him and the team to produce such an epic movie like Habibie & Ainun. The movie is his debut as a director.
“We weren’t worried about what the public might think. Our biggest concern was if Pak Habibie wasn’t satisfied with the result, because it’s a true story about his life,” Faozan told The Jakarta Post. Usually, Faozan’s adopts the role of director of photography for prominent director Hanung Bramantyo,
The shooting of the film took place over 25 days in Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Klaten and some cities in Germany.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who attended the gala premier recently along with the First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and some ministers of his Cabinet, said that the story of Habibie and Ainun was an inspiration to all. “It is about love, caring and sharing.”
As a statesman, Habibie had also shown himself to be a “true leader” by not pushing himself forward to be the country’s leader, he said. “Therefore, on behalf of the country, let me thank you for your service, Pak Habibie. You are one of the leaders who made history for our nation.”
Habibie & Ainun
(125 minutes, MD Entertainment)
Starring: Reza Rahadian, Bunga Citra Lestari, Ratna Riantiarno, Tio Pakusadewo
Director: Faozan Rizal
Producers: Dhamoo Punjabi, Manoj Punjabi, Hanung Bramantyo