press enter to search

‘Bumi Manusia’: Love, race and identity in colonial times

Yuliasri Perdani

The Jakarta Post

PREMIUM
Surabaya, East Java  /  Thu, August 15, 2019  /  08:33 am
‘Bumi Manusia’: Love, race and identity in colonial times

Swept away: An adaptation of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s novel, 'Bumi Manusia' (This Earth of Mankind) follows Minke (Iqbaal Ramadhan), a young minor Javanese royal, who falls in love with Annelies Mellema, the daughter of a Dutchman and his concubine, Nyai Ontosoroh. (Falcon Pictures/-)

In the late 19th century Dutch East Indies, people’s social status was defined by the amount of European blood running through their veins. Even Minke (Iqbaal Ramadhan), a young minor Javanese royal, felt the pinch of racism and colonialism. He can’t step foot in a Dutch club, which bears a sign: “Pribumi [native] and dogs banned from entering.” Despite his brilliant mind and status as a regent’s son, Minke is considered as a lesser man by his Dutch and Indo (mixed blood) schoolmates at the elite Dutch-run Hogere Burger School (HBS). But what Minke experienced – as depicted in the silver screen adaptation of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s novel, Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind) – is nothing compared to all the trials and tribulations endured by Nyai Ontosoroh (Sha Ine Febriyanti). As a teenager, she was sold by her father to a Dutc...