Kartini: Nerdy Princess Saved the Day

I was jumping up and down in excitement when the trailer came out. I swore to watch it. Because Kartini was a hero. She was awesome. And I had always wished I could have learned more about her.

Then I finally got my chance to see this movie.

My expectations were too high for my own good, I must say, although I did find this movie quite entertaining and inspiring.

If you’re a feminist, this is the kind of movie you’d want to check out. It raises a lot of issues and the dark sides of traditions. It promotes freedom while at the same time questions it.

“Freedom or Duty?”

Kartini was raised in a noble family. She was regarded as “princess” and received proper education that commoners wouldn’t be able to get, due to status and well, sex. And this was good, because Kartini loved knowledge. She was always too eager to learn, and she fed her mind with possibilities. She was the top of her class, and her articles never failed to impressed her teachers.

Unfortunately, due to the tradition, when she reached puberty she had to be locked away from the world, waiting to be wed to some aristocrat.

To her, a room might block her path to the world, but her mind could go wherever she desired.

Kartini expressed her desire to publish her writings, and challenged the rules. Why were women living only to be wed and to raise children? What if they wanted more?

Don’t expect too much, if you’re hoping for movie miracle, because if you’d done your research and read up on her story, you’d know that she got married and gave birth to a child before dying. She never went to study abroad like she’d wanted to, and she settled where she had been all her life, embracing her duty to be a wife and mother. However, we all know that she’d started the first primary school for women and the poor. And that was a game changer.

Kartini lived for only a quarter of a century, and yet her challenging ideas lived on and freed women who lived after her. She might not have lived through the changes that she’d started, but her life was a beginning to other women’s dreams and education.

This movie served our hero justice. As much as I questioned the casting of Dian Sastro (isn’t she like… too pretty for this?) for the role, I believe she’d done her best as Kartini. Her studies on the hero did her well, and she showed depth in her performance, which I appreciated.

There were moments in this movie that bothered me. I actually would’ve preferred narration over the strange injections of imaginations or memories. It could’ve worked if done differently, although I could see why they were placed that way. Nevertheless, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I should’ve.

Some characters were there to simply give our hero room to grow, and I wished they’d been given the chance to actually develop.

While watching this movie, I had to keep reminding myself that this was the story of a woman living in the era of supreme patriarchy. That her accomplishments were a threat to men, because women weren’t supposed to be that intimidating and challenging. And on that note, the movie Kartini earned my respect and her story was worth being on the big screen.

Kartini got a 7/10 from me.

My feminist self had to restrain myself from throwing my shoes to the screen.


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