Dead Time (2007)
Dead Time: Kala
Dead Time: Kala (also known as Kala, Dead Time, or The Secret) is a 2007 Indonesian neo-noir thriller film written and directed by Joko Anwar. The film stars an ensemble cast led by Fachri Albar, Ario Bayu, Shanty, and Fahrani.
At the 27th Citra Awards, the film won 3 out of its 7 nominations. Sight & Sound selected the film as one of the best films of 2007 and named Anwar one of the smartest filmmakers in Asia.
In an unnamed dystopian country, two cops, Eros (Ario Bayu) and Hendro Waluyo (August Melasz) investigate a case of five people being burned alive after a woman shouted them as thieves. Meanwhile, a down-on-luck narcoleptic journalist, Janus (Fachri Albar), is late to attend his divorce with Sari (Shanty). He searches the recent news and meets the widow of one of the burned victims, a pregnant woman named Ratih. Sneaking on her conversation with a nurse through a hidden tape recorder, Janus later watches as Ratih is hit by a bus outside the hospital and passes out from his narcolepsy, mysteriously waking up inside the hospital afterwards. Janus and his friend, Soebandi, hear from the tape a Javanese prose quoted by Ratih of something that is in "Bukit Bendonowongso, in front of Candi Tujuh Anak Tangga". When the two part ways, a pale white-skinned creature, Pindoro (Yose Rizal Manua) follows Soebandi and apparently beheads him. Janus is taken for questioning by Eros; after the latter leaves, fellow cop Bambang Sutrisno (Frans Tumbuan) threatens Janus to tell him the contents of the tape.
From the hospital records, Janus visits Ratih's house and learns from Ratih's neighbors that in the span of a week, Ratih, her husband, and her father, Ronggoweni, died. The only surviving family of Ratih is her sister, Ranti (Fahrani), who currently works as a lounge singer. Ranti warns Janus not to disclose the prose to anyone else; should he does so, either him or the person he tells to must die. Following the lounge's closing, Ranti is kidnapped, and when Janus tries to rescue her, he is captured too. Janus wakes up to the Minister of Arts, Heryo Wibowo (Arswendi Nasution), and is poured with gasoline to be immolated alive before his narcolepsy takes over. Eros visits the crime scene again, learning from a witness that the woman who shouted at the thieves is a relative of one of them, suggesting Ranti. He visits Ronggoweni's house and faces Pindoro, but the latter does not harm him. Later, Eros and Hendro discuss over the collapsing state of their nation, with Hendro reciting a hopeful prophecy that soon, the "King of Justice" will arrive to stabilize her. Hendro also tells Eros that Ranti is from the family of an aide of the First President. Eros confirms this by visiting the library, in which he finds a photo of Ronggoweni's inauguration and the search for the treasure of the First President.
Janus wakes up in his imprisonment room, alone and unscathed, and meets Sari. She apologizes and the two reconcile. Sari, upon being told the prose, says that she knows where the treasure is located. However, their reconciliation is a ruse, as Sari immediately calls Heryo. The two meet outside the city where Heryo shoots Sari after she has told him the treasure's location. Heryo is then chased by Pindoro until he is beheaded. Janus, depressed when he learns of Sari's death, moves out the city to commit suicide, but Pindoro catches him at the last second and brings him to safety. He is then captured by a group led by Bambang and a minister. Eros and Hendro, meanwhile, find Ranti during their search for the treasure's location who tells them that her father had been forced by his son-in-law to disclose the treasure; true to the taboo, he committed suicide and his daughter and son-in-law followed him soon afterward. What they did not know is that one more person (Janus) had also learned about the treasure. At the library, a book informed them that the treasure was bestowed to the kings of Nusantara for uniting the country, and the First President, knowing of the fighting the treasure would inflict, ordered nine of his aide to hide it. Pindoro is a supernatural creature tasked to protect the treasure, but as he is intangible he never committed the murders, meaning that a mortal did them. Shortly after, Pindoro suddenly appears and takes Ranti with him.
Hendro recites the prophecy again, attested since the time of Jayabaya, which reveals that "when the republic turned half a century, fighting for the treasure shall ignite, and a sleeper shall become the keeper of the secret of the treasure"; Janus is in fact the "sleeper". He, while being imprisoned in a bus, tells everyone present of the secret. Shortly thereafter, Ranti appears and kills everyone save Janus, revealing herself as the mortal protector of the keeper, having taken the role from her father. Janus is taken to Bukit Bendonowongso, with Eros tailing Bambang, but Ranti appears and massacres nearly everyone present, including Bambang. Just when Eros decides to let himself die rather than Janus, Ranti and Pindoro kneel before him, revealing him as the "King of Justice". The film ends with silhouettes of the four leaving Bukit Bendonowongso, while Hendro recites the final part of the prophecy: "The sleeper shall disclose the secret with the king, the leader who shall take the country to prosperity. They and their protector shall meet near the hill, but their meeting is not an easy task, for evils shall unite to hinder them."
- Fachri Albar as Janus
- Ario Bayu as Eros
- Fahrani as Ranti
- Shanty as Sari
- August Melasz as Hendro Waluyo
- Arswendi Nasution as Haryo Wibowo
- Sujiwo Tejo as Ronggoweni
- Frans Tumbuan as Bambang Sutrisno
- Tipi Jabrik as Bandi
- José Rizal Manua as Pindoro
- Agung Udijana as Bimo
In an interview with CineCrib in 2019, Anwar said that he was approached by MD Pictures executive Manoj Punjabi who wanted him to direct the film adaptation of the best-selling book Ayat-Ayat Cinta. However, he declined the offer as he did not feel like he was the right person to direct a religious film. Instead, he told Punjabi and his team the idea he had at the time for Dead Time: Kala and reached a deal immediately. This was notable as MD Pictures was then known only as a soap opera production studio.
The film was shot in 28 days.
Dead Time: Kala was released theatrically in Indonesia on April 19, 2007 and on December 20, 2007 in Malaysia. It was screened at several international film festivals, including Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and Vancouver International Film Festival.
The film performed poorly in the box office with an estimate gross of only $4,586 throughout its run.
Dead Time: Kala received critical acclaim upon release. Ard Vijn of Screen Anarchy gave the film a rave review, calling it a "wonderful mix of film noir and Asian horror" and that "It manages to be both a decent thriller which looks incredibly slick". Panos Kotzathanasis of Asian Movie Pulse wrote that "In terms of style, the film is absolutely magnificent" while singling out the cinematography as "a thing of beauty" and the score's violin tracks for "heightening the sense of agony" in the film.
James Guild of Cinema Escapist called the film "a Javanese neo-noir masterpiece". In conclusion, Guild noted "This hybridization of styles, themes, and symbols underlines the complex ideas Joko Anwar explores in Kala. It reflects Joko Anwar’s enduring interest in taking the home-grown myths, legends, and folklore of Indonesia and putting them on the big screen. But by cladding them in the visual language of one of Western cinema’s most classic genres, and then sprinkling a whiff of social relevance through the use of Javanese mythology, he imbues the film with a sense of style and thematic resonance that is both familiar and also wholly unique." Leila Chudori of Tempo praised the film's cinematography and Anwar's complex screenplay, noting that the film "is told in a new language; not the Indonesian language, but Joko Anwar's language".
In a more mixed review, Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter highlighted the ending as "somewhat of a letdown, as a scene-by-scene re-enactment explains everything leaving no room to the imagination" while still praising Anwar for "rewriting the formulas of mainstream Indonesian cinema".
British film magazine Sight & Sound, published by the British Film Institute, picked Dead Time: Kala as one of the year's best films while naming Anwar as one of the smartest filmmakers in Asia.
Awards and nominations
|2007||27th Citra Awards||Best Actor||Fachri Albar||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Shanty||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Wawan I. Wibowo||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Ipung Rachmat Syaiful||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Wencislaus||Won|
|Best Sound||Khikmawan Santosa||Nominated|
|Special Award for Best Use of Indonesian Language in a Film||Kala||Won|
|2007||MTV Indonesia Movie Awards||Best Running Scene||Fachri Albar||Nominated|
|Most Favorite Actor||Nominated|