The Year of Living Dangerously

Billy Kwan Linda Hunt
Guy Hamilton Mel Gibson
Jill Bryant Sigourney Weaver .

Based on a novel written by C.J Koch with screenwriting assist by Director Peter Weir. Run Time 117 minutes. Rated PG (for sexual innuendo, brief nudity, violence, suicide).

Central Theme
When faced with injustice each of us must choose whether and how to engage. The choice we make may not change the injustice, but it can change us.

Guy Hamilton is an Australian reporter on his first international assignment in Indonesia. What seems like a backwater post becomes front-page news as communists on the one side and hard line right-wingers on the other threaten Sukarno’s corrupt regime. Hamilton’s photographer, Billy Kwan, is surprisingly well connected and clearly drawn to the plight of Indonesia’s poor. In her idealism she hopes to change Indonesia’s situation by adding her light to the sum of all light by doing what she can about the misery in front of her. She is distressed by Guy’s characteristic journalistic detachment and hopes by getting him to care for one person, Jill Bryant, she can maneuver him into a more active participation in the injustices he writes about.

The film is an interesting study in the ambiguity of Indonesian politics and social life and raises provocative questions about how best to address the problems of the poor. Billy is an idealist but becomes disillusioned with her personal and political approach to helping the poor. Guy faces his detachment personally and professionally.

Beliefs num
–The issues of injustice and the poor must be addressed.
–The poor will always be with us.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Of the options explored in this film (detachment, personal involvement, governmental intervention, communism), which do you think is most effective in addressing the concerns of the poor?
–Should journalists stay detached from the story they are covering or is it OK for them to get involved?

Provocative Quotes byline
–What shall we do then?
==Billy quotes Luke 3:10 to Guy.
–Tolstoy asked the same question. He got so upset about the poverty in Moscow that he went into to town and gave all his money to the poor.
==Billy to Guy.
–Don’t think about the major issues. You do what you can about the misery in front of you. You add your light to the sum of all light.
==Billy’s approach to the problem of the poor.
–We can’t afford to get involved.
==Guy to Billy.
–It’s the bamboo. But there is a spirit here. The unseen is all around us, particularly here in Java.
==Billy explaining an unusual sound Guy is hearing.
–If you want to understand Java you must understand the sacred shadow play. The puppet master is the priest. The shadows are the souls and the screen is heaven. You must watch the shadows not the puppets. The forces of dark and light in the endless struggle for balance. In the west we want answers for everything: right or wrong, black or white, good or bad. But in the shadow dance no such absolutes exist.
==Billy to Guy.
–In another country she would be a decent woman. Here she begs or sells her body. What then shall we do? We must give with love to whoever God places in our path.
–You have changed, you are capable of betrayal. Is it possible I was wrong about you? You abuse your position as a journalist and grow addicted to risk. You attempt to rule neat lines around yourself making a fetish of your career and making all relationships temporary lest they distract that career. Why can’t you give yourself? What can’t you learn to love?
==Billy in journal about Guy.
–My country suffers from a great weight of poverty and corruption. Is it wrong to change that?
==Guy’s Indonesian assistant.
–Wherever human misery is at its worse the press will be there in force. You know there are people out there on the streets fighting for rice. I’ve got footage. Anybody want it?
==Billy disgusted with press detachment.
–I believed in you. I though you were a man of light. That’s why I gave you those stories. I made you see things. I made you feel something about what you wrote. I gave you my trust and so did Jill. I created you.
==Billy to Guy.
–I’ll be on that plane.
==Guy promises Jill he’ll choose her over the story.
–Tell me something. Am I a stupid man? (No). Then why should I live like a poor man all my life, when stupid people in your country live well?
== Guy’s Indonesian assistant.
–Why leave now? You can stay and write all the stories you want.
== Guy’s Indonesian assistant.
–We will win because we believe in something.
== Guy’s Indonesian assistant.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in January 21, 1983 by | No Comments »

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