Bringing classic Indonesian films back to life

The 1956 film ‘Tiga Dara’ or ‘Three Girls’ is a classic work by Indonesian film director, Usmar Ismail. The film hasn’t been seen in decades – until now.


Senin, 15 Agus 2016 12:05 WIB


Ria Apriyani

Scene from Film Tiga Dara

Scene from Film Tiga Dara

The 1956 film ‘Tiga Dara’ or ‘Three Girls’ is a classic work by Indonesian film director, Usmar Ismail.

The film hasn’t been seen in decades – until now.

KBR journalist Ria Apriyani has the story on restoring a cult classic.

Set in the time following the revolution, the musical comedy ‘Tiga Dara,’ or ‘Three Girls’ stars three well-known Indonesian actresses, Chitra Dewi, Mieke Wijaya and Indriati Iskak.

For years it was kept in the archives collecting dust, but now after 60 years, the film is back on Indonesian screens.

It took more than a year to restore the film in Bologna, Italy. The celluloid of the film tape was badly damaged, covered in mold and patched up with duct tape.

At the end of 2015, the restoration process was complete and the film was brought back to Indonesia. But it still wasn’t good enough to show at the cinema.

That’s when the restoration team bought in digital effects to do the rest of the job.

“We cleaned it there. The fungus covered the tape and had even absorbed into the emulsion, causing permanent damage. That cannot be restored physically, it has to be done digitally.”

The digital restoration took six months and now Tiga Dara is ready for the cinema.

Yoki Soufyan, the director of SA Film, the company responsible for the restoration, says the project has been a success.

“Using 4K restoration technology can reveal a lot of historical facts. We can find out when the film was produced. What kind of books that people read at that time. In fact the house owner where the shooting took place liked to read and had good books,” says Soufyan.

The restoration project cost more than US$220 000, so Soufyan says he hopes many people will come and watch.

But film critic, Leila Chudori, has her doubts. She says there isn’t a huge appreciation for classical films in Indonesia.

“I don’t know. Indonesians are picky about watching Indonesian film, furthermore it’s classic. But I see this as something that we should welcome,” Chudori commented.

Tiga Dara is the second classic film that’s been restored after Lewat Djam Malam. But there are around 70,000 classic films that lie abandoned in the Indonesian National Archives (ANRI).

Given the tropical climate that damages the film celluloid, special storage is needed, says Indonesian filmmaker, Alex Sihar.

“We are an island country, with salt and a tropical climate. That means that lot of mediums, including paper and celluloid don’t age well if they are not kept in proper storage. If we compare, celluloid can last for hundred years more than compact discs, which only last for a few years,” Sihar said.

For SA film director, Yoki Soufyan, the restoration of Tiga Dara is not just about celebrating Indonesian history, but honoring classic art.

“People say that watching the film is like watching history, watching ourselves and our ancestors. The success of Tiga Dara will prove that classical films are widely enjoyed.” 


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