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Love, religion and social difference: Two films about polygamy and Indonesian society

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Hatley, BL (2009) Love, religion and social difference: Two films about polygamy and Indonesian society. In: Asian Hot Shots: Indonesian Cinema. Schuren Verlag GmbH, Marburg, Germany, pp. 46-63. ISBN 978-3-89472-675-1

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Abstract

The very titles of two popular films on the controversial topic of polygamy in Indonesia signal their contrasting perspectives. SHARING A HUSBAND (BERBAGI SUAMI)l speaks un- ambiguously from the position of the wife, receiving only a partial share of the marital whole; its blunt, straightforward wording indicates the sharing process to be one of earthy, practical give and take. (RELIGIOUS) VERSES OF LOVE (AYAT.-AYAT CINTA), drawing on the term for Koranic verses, suggests a religiously blessed state, suffused with the tender emotions of romantic love. In fact both films contain similar statements about polygamy. Both films refer to the Koranic provision that polygamy is allowable only if the husband is able to treat his wives equally: in each case the authoritative speaker who makes this reference also asserts that it is impossible for a husband to maintain such equality. Thus the problematic quality of polygamy is clearly established. Indeed. even in AYAT-AYAT CINTA, in which all parties enter polygamous marriage willingly, the situation is shown to give rise to considerable pain and stress. Nevertheless, apart from this point of agreement, the two films convey completely different perspectives on the topic, one critical, realistic, the other sympathetic and romantic. They do so within an overall contrast of style, setting and ambience. And they speak to opposing positions in what is currently the most prominent divide in Indonesia's complex, heterogeneous society: that separating conservative, orthodox Muslims and liberal, secular-minded social groups.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Schuren Verlag GmbH
Page Range: pp. 46-63
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2010 01:40
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:09
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/9643
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