Remaking a movie can be tricky, especially if the original version was popular, as an audience tends to compare one with the other. But Indonesian director Edo WF Sitanggang took the chance when he reproduced Asrul Sani’s Bulan di Atas Kuburan (Moon over the Graveyard) for his directing debut.
The movie was first made by the renowned filmmaker, screenwriter and poet in 1973, taking inspiration from Sitor Situmorang’s one-line poem Malam Lebaran (Eve of Lebaran).
Edo said that in the remake using the same title, he tried to maintain the original idea as crises and phenomena of the past still happened these days.
But the storyline has been modified to make it more up-to-date.
“The dialogue is totally different from the original and we added new characters, so that the film relates more to today’s life,” he said at a press screening.
The film highlights the lives of rural people in finding their fortune in the big city.
Two close friends, Sahat (Rio Dewanto) and Tigor (Donny Alamsyah), from Samosir in North Sumatra are lured by the promise of a better life in Jakarta after their friend Sabar (Tio Pakusadewo) touts how good life is in the capital.
Sahat comes up with a plan to follow up on his novel, which won a writing competition in Jakarta, while Tigor relies only on his imagination to find jobs despite a lack of skills.
But life in Jakarta is not as good as they had imagined.
Once they arrive in the capital, they stay at Sabar’s place as they are not welcome at Sahat’s sister’s house. Sahat then visits the publishing company where he meets Maruli (Arthur Tobing), who instead of publishing his novel, wants to buy it so he can use it as the script for a political campaign of the party he works for.
At the same time, he meets Mona (Atiqah Hasiholan), Maruli’s daughter, who adores his work.
Rejecting the offer, Sahat has to bury his dream of becoming a famous writer and instead helps Sabar with his projects.
However, Sahat and Mona remain close and realize that there is chemistry between them.
Sahat shares his feeling with Sabar, who advises him to marry Mona as a way to get a better life. After that, Sahat asks Maruli for permission to marry Mona and is given it with conditions.
After tying the knot, Sahat starts getting involved in politics and becomes removed from those to whom he is closest.
Meanwhile, Tigor tries to earn money by becoming a public transportation timekeeper before he joins a gang — a path that brings him close to his dream as well as tragedy.
Sabar ends up behind bars after being declared guilty of graft.
The scenes in the movie feel so real and honest as most of them portray daily life, reflecting reality in the metropolis.
The script was carefully written by Dirmawan Hatta, making the 120-minute film easy to follow even though it does not specify a certain period of time.
However, when the film nears its end, the plot seems to move too fast so that the audience cannot totally grasp the emotions in the movie.
The performance of the leading actors deserves praise, as well as the score and the soundtrack by renowned Batak musician Viky Sianipar, making the remake, which hit theaters on April 16, worth seeing.
Bulan di Atas Kuburan
(120 minutes, Sunshine Pictures)
Director: Edo WF Sitanggang
Producer: Tim Matindas, Dennis Chandra, Leonardo Taher
Script: Dirmawan Hatta
Cast: Rio Dewanto, Donny Alamsyah, Tio Pakusadewo, Atiqah Hasiholan, Ria Irawan, Andre Hehanusa, Adi Kurdi.
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