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Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts 2017

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts | Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak | Marlina, la tueuse en 4 actes

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts-Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak-Marlina, la tueuse en 4 actes

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About the Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts 💬


In the deserted hills of an Indonesian island, Marlina (Marsha Timothy), a young widow, is attacked and robbed of all her livestock by a gang of seven bandits. She then defends herself, setting out on a journey to find justice, empowerment, retribution, and redemption. But the road is long, especially when she begins to be haunted by the ghost of her victim.


Q: Where does the character of Marlina come from?

Mouly Surya: I was in a jury in 2014 for the Citra Awards (The Indonesian Oscars) along with Garin Nugroho, arguably the most prominent director, filmmaker in Indonesia. We had a chat and he said that we should make a film together. He had a story that he would love a woman to direct. He told me the basic premise about a time when he was in Sumba Island and said ''I can't imagine how you are going to visualize this story and I find that interesting.'' I was intrigued. So he sent a five-page treatment the next day titled ''The Woman.''

My producers and partners, Rama Adi and Fauzan Zidni, fell in love with this story and decided to produce it immediately.

Garin gave me complete freedom to develop the story and told me how much he was impressed with the image of women in Sumba. I didn't know what he meant at that time, so we went on a journey to Sumba: I guess Marlina, her image of mystery, sensuality, and persistence, came from all these images of women and impressions I got.

Q: Tell us about Sumba Island, where you shot? The location is amazing.

Mouly Surya: Sumba is an unusual island between the thousands that make up Indonesia. This island has a very peculiar look. Most of Indonesia is full of greenery, but Sumba Island is very dry, a little Texas-like. It is a part of the poorest province of Indonesia, the kind of place in which our modern society can't believe some of the things that happened and are still happening. People carry around sabers as weapons, and a group of robbers can knock on your home in the middle of the countryside, letting you know that they are going to rob you and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You just let them or they will kill you.

But, it is also a place of natural beauty where you can still see centuries of culture and beliefs on its soil and heart.

Q: In Indonesia, religion holds a central place yet the film seems to speak more about spirituality and beliefs. Is this typical in Sumba Island?

Mouly Surya: In general, I've always viewed Indonesia as more spiritual than religious. The way we approached religion is like that as well. It is something that has been there in our culture for the longest time, a lot of it was embedded in our religious ways in bigger cities.

But spirituality in isolated areas has a much purer form, such as the case in Sumba island.

It is a megalithic society, with a strong belief in ancestors, a place where traditional belief defies all logic and the living live alongside the dead. They have megalithic burials that cost so much that they usually keep the bodies of dead relatives in the house for months, years, even decades as they gather money for a proper funeral. Most of the population practices animist Merapu religion. I met a king where we were going to shoot, who would have an animal's intestines and hearts read to see the future. Asking why they do certain things will lead to this one and only answer, ''This is what the ancestors do or say.'' No more questions asked.

Q: Marlina is a feminist heroine, struggling to survive, for her independence and her integrity. Is she inspired by the Sumba women?

Mouly Surya: I met with several of them. One was Novi, a Catholic priest's helper who was very soft spoken. Another one, who was very educated, came with her children and husband. But her husband keeps interrupting her wanting to be the one to give us his perceptions as he carried their baby in his arms. We went to a traditional village and men kept staring at me in a very carnal way and made me very uncomfortable. We also met the village's queen, a very respected widow. She didn't say or smile much but had an air of royalty as she chews her beetle leaves. Then there was this news about a local teacher, named Marlina, who created a scandal with her video dancing disco in her office. It was uploaded to YouTube and she had arguments with reporters who condemned her.

Q: What is the place of women in Indonesian society today?

Mouly Surya: Indonesia has various cultures. There is one where the woman is the family breadwinner. In big cities lots of women are already very independent: it depends on the person, regardless of culture or religion. We now have a lot of strong women figures in Indonesia, in government, in politics, in history, and a lot of women working as well. The economy is still growing and families may need double incomes to survive. But in others, like in Sumba, a woman's place is the kitchen, from where she should enter and exit the house.

Q: There are more elements of a western than of a thriller. Was that a choice from the beginning?

Mouly Surya: I had been flirting with the idea of a Western since the first Google Images I'd seen of Sumba Island. I am not much of a Western genre fan: the only reference that came to my mind is Jim Jarmusch's ''Dead Man'', I saw in a cinema studies class in college. I recalled a black and white Western where they named a Native-American character 'Nobody'. I didn't watch Western particularly for MARLINA. I just had an idea of several elements that I wanted to use in the film, to make my own impression of a Western. It is how I made myself relate to this society, as someone who was born and raised in a metropolitan city such as Jakarta. Also, I wanted to make Garin Nugroho's story mine.

Q: Are there many women directors in Indonesia?

Mouly Surya: There are quite a few women directors in Indonesia that have successful careers. Although in recent years we haven't had more than one or two young and upcoming female directors. There was a rise about a decade ago. And now, we are again, a rare breed. I used to teach in a film school and mostly the problem for female directors isn't that the industry is sexist (sometimes it is, it depends on people) but that a lot of women are lacking confidence. As a woman in Indonesia usually, you don't get to be independent of your parents until the day you are married. So, on a film set, telling everybody (most of the crew are older men) what to do, doesn't come very natural at first. At least for me and from what I've seen.

Q: Indonesian cinema is mostly known for action/genres films. How is the situation of indie cinema in Indonesia now?

Mouly Surya: Our industry is very young; we are a young country after all. We also have very limited human resources.

Most commercially successful films in Indonesia are very light and often genre films such as comedies, horror movies, and love stories. Love stories usually take a very religious view and background. The most successful films are actually films tailored by Indonesian morals and ways of thinking.

Since we don't have distributors in Indonesia, filmmakers basically have to go themselves directly to exhibitors. So in a way, all films are independent. The art-house films which find their way to the big screen, next door to big budget Hollywood films, have little to no success.

We still have very few cinemas, definitely nowhere near enough for 250 million people in our country. But it is growing. There is a great energy from young filmmakers in Indonesia; talents are being born from other cities aside from Jakarta and bringing in new voices to be heard. So it is exciting to see something is beginning.

  • Indonesia at a glance

Indonesia at a glance

Situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans at the South of Malaysia and at the North West of Australia, Indonesia is the world's largest island country, with more than 17.000 islands among which the most famous is Bali. Its capital is Jakarta (the second most populous city in Asia). Indonesia is the world's 14th biggest country.

It has an estimated population of over 260 million people and is the world's 4th most populous country, as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country even though Indonesia mixes Hindu, Christians and animist beliefs. The country also sees diversity in its population with indigenous people as well as numerous Chinese and Indians.

Indonesia lies along the equator and has, therefore, a tropical climate but its ''unity in diversity'' as its motto says reveals many differences among the islands in terms of landscapes, climate and economy, Sumba where the film was shot is for instance more dry.

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Mouly Surya

Writing Credits

Mouly Surya

Garin Nugroho

Rama Adi


Marsha Timothy

Dea Panendra

Yoga Pratama

Egy Fedly

Haydar Salishz

Anggun Priambodo

Rita Matu Mona

Ayez Kassar

Safira Ahmad

Indra Birowo

Music by

Yudhi Arfani

Zeke Khaseli

Cinematography by

Yunus Pasolang

Genres: Drama, Thriller, Western

Countries: Indonesia, France, Malaysia, Thailand

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts Official Trailer

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