“The East” shows why Indonesia’s War of Independence is a bridge between WWII and Vietnam
A new film suggests that the architects of the Vietnam War would have done well to study the role of the Dutch military in the Indonesian national revolution of the late 1940s that established the region’s independence from of the Dutch Empire.
“The East” was written and directed by Jim Taihuttu, the great-grandson of a native of the Moluccas who died fighting for the Dutch army during the conflict, which lasted from 1945 to 1949. It was is an intense look at the extreme and historically controversial measures the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) was used in an attempt to quell the rebellion.
The film is slated to hit theaters and all digital VOD platforms on August 12, 2021. We have a preview of the trailer.
Johan de Vries (played by Martijn Lakemeier) is a young Dutch soldier deployed to Indonesia with an elite unit tasked with suppressing the rebellion. Its captain (Marwan Kenzari) is known to his men as “the Turk” and demands that his soldiers use brutal methods to achieve their goals. You know, the kind of methods history shows turn otherwise neutral villagers into fully engaged rebels.
The film sparked controversy in the Netherlands and in the Dutch community in Indonesia. The “Federatie Indische Nederlanders (FIN)” or Federation of Dutch Indonesians has filed a complaint against the filmmakers claiming that the film’s portrayal of Dutch military brutality has no factual basis.
The lawsuit demanded that a warning be added at the start of the film stating that it was a work of fiction. The courts disagreed. There was already the standard language “any similarity to people living or dead is unintentional” in the end credits and the courts have ruled that the film has enough real-story foundation that any further non-liability is unnecessary.
Military action in Indonesia is a painful chapter in Dutch history and “The East” brought that almost forgotten era back to the nation’s consciousness when it was released there last year.
The movie was shot in Indonesia, and although it is set in the late 1940s, it looks a lot like a Vietnam War movie. The Dutch eventually gave up and ceded the nation’s independence and the lessons they learned could have been fully exposed to American commanders in Vietnam or Soviet commanders in Afghanistan.
“The East” has widely divergent reviews online, but the negative reviews come primarily from viewers who claim the film’s portrayal of incendiary military tactics is historically inaccurate. Did the director metaphorically amplify certain incidents to make it a dynamic film? It is possible, but it would give “The East” something in common with “Apocalypse Now”. We can see for ourselves when it hits the US next month.
Watch the best in military entertainment
Whether you are looking for news and entertainment, thinking about joining the military, or knowing about military life and benefits, Military.com has you covered. Subscribe to the Military.com newsletter to receive military news, updates and resources straight to your inbox.
View full article
© Copyright 2021 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.