From the Mouths of Babes: Children in Recent Indonesian Film and Fiction

Pamela Allen


A noticeable trend in recent Indonesian fiction and film has been the use of children as protagonists. This paper examines the role of children in Andrea Hirata’s 2005 novel Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Warriors) and the 2006 film Denias, directed by John de Rantau. I argue that, like the German Bildungsromane, these texts belong to a genre that might be called ‘coming of age’ or quest narratives. And yet, importantly, they are not just about the personal experience of finding one’s place in the world; the young protagonists of these texts also carry the weight of nation-building on their slender shoulders. The texts are not, therefore, simple derivations from European Bildungsromane, but are shaped by colonialism and globalization


Indonesian fiction, Indonesian film, children, Bildungsromant, quest narratives

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