Menuju rembulan

 (Ismail Basbeth, Indonesia, 2015) 80 minutes


Director: Ismail Basbeth
Producers: Ismail Basbeth,
Andhy Pulung, Suryo Adhi Wiyogo
Screenplay: Ismail Basbeth, B.W. Purba Negara
Cinematography: Satria Kurnianto
Editor: Dwi Agus Purwanto
Music: Charlie Meliala
Tara Basro (Asa)
Ratu Anandita (Laras)
Cornelio Sunny (Black Dog Man)
Endang Sukeksi (Asa's Mother)
Mila Rosinta Totoatmojo (The Butler)

Reviews and notes

2015 Rotterdam, New Horizons [Poland], Fukuoka

Indonesian myths are updated via the magic of widescreen digital in director/co-writer Ismail Basbeth's quietly beguiling debut Another Trip to the Moon. Accessibly exotic in its initial evocations of a timeless idyll, the picture throws a couple of bold narrative curve-balls as it builds towards a satisfying, enigmatic finale. The screenplay almost entirely dispenses with dialogue, apart from a handful of whispery and unsubtitled incantations. But it's not hard to work out what's going on. Early stretches depict a pair of graceful lovers identified in the credits as Asa (Tara Basro) and Laras (Ratu Anandita) enjoying an idealized, atavistic hunter-gathering lifestyle in a placid forest, with Asa particularly handy with a bow-and-arrow. Moving between reality, fantasy, dream, hallucination and symbolic representation, Basbeth crafts a strangely alluring form of sensual fairy-tale in which quotidian objects and places take on magical qualities. It's essentially a character-study of the impassively self-possessed Asa, with Basro seldom off-screen as a young woman capable of moving between epochs with a natural, animal poise.
- Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter.

What is the border between still photography and moving pictures? Footage shot by a camera pointed at a waterfall or a fireplace may technically be the latter, but art-wise has more in common with the former. Getting close to that blurred line is Ismail Basbeth's Tiger Award nominated film Another Trip to the Moon, which had its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam this year. For with its slow pacing and careful shot composition, Basbeth's film is more akin to a picture-book full of beautiful stills, than to a motion picture.

Its story is based on an old Indonesian myth: Ana's mother is the village's seer and Ana is expected to replace her eventually. To avoid this fate, Ana has run off into the jungle with a girlfriend, and happily lives a feral life there. When Ana's mother feels her own end approach, she sends a dog to fetch Ana. Over time, the dog changes into a man, Ana marries him and they get a child together.

All this is shown in the aforementioned long, beautiful shots. For example: the first quarter of the film is almost entirely filled with showing two young women hunting, sleeping, bathing, and eating, in a beautiful dark green forest straight out of a fairy tale. Throughout the movie no word is spoken, no explanation given. It's definitely not a silent film though: nature itself provides a constant wall of noise, and sometimes songs are hummed, a very pleasant sound indeed.

It all makes for an extremely sedate film, hypnotizing almost, and would lull most people to sleep if not for some well-timed distractions. One lightning bolt literally made everybody in the theater jump up, suddenly wide awake again. Other bits and pieces are a lot weirder, like the plastic animals roaming through the forest alongside the regular ones.

I liked Another Trip to the Moon, and as I saw it between a few hectic entries at this year's Rotterdam Festival, it provided me with a temporary oasis of sorts. Would I recommend it to others though? Hmm... Whether anyone will like Another Trip to the Moon is entirely up to whether he/she can stomach such a strange and slow film, and I'm sure what I called sedate, many will judge to be boring instead. The trailers posted last week give a good impression of what you can expect.

Audiences in Rotterdam gave Another Trip to the Moon a mean rating of 3.4 out of 5, and I'm guessing the votes were all in the extreme end as this is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of film.
- Ard Vijn, ScreenAnarchy, 11 February 2015.

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