Envisioning Southeast Asia
LESSON 7: Southeast Asia, film, and empire
This lesson focuses on the portrayal of history, particularly the history of colonial empires, in films and movies and leads the students into a discussion of how local film industries in Southeast Asia contributed to the development of new national cultures and independence movements.
|Subject||History / Social Studies|
|Topic||Southeast Asia, film, and empire|
|Key idea||During the colonial period, colonial powers as well as nationalist movements used movies to deliver their respective political messages. Building up on global and local elements, movies played an important role in defining what constitutes the ‘nation’ and an idea of local culture.|
|Key concepts||Colonial powers
Local culture and global cultures
Pop (popular) culture
|No. of periods / lessons||2 periods (1 period is approximately 50 minutes)|
|Facilities needed||A/V equipment and Internet access to play the video clips (or hard copy with similar content)
Sources and handouts for distribution
|Prerequisite knowledge||Students should have some rudimentary familiarity with film, movies and ideas of culture.|
By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:
Download the lesson plan for details on the talks and activities suggested below.
1. Hook: Trailer of Indochine
Students watch a trailer of the French movie Indochine and reflect on the issue of colonialism.
Watch the trailer
2. Teacher talk: The history of film and empire
This lecture recap the development of the film industry in Southeast Asia, both as for entertainment and political purposes.
3. Group work: Analysis of a colonial movie
Students watch, analyze and discuss a short movie shot in West Indies (Indonesia) in 1912.
Watch the movie
Students discuss what defines and characterizes colonial movies and their potential impact.
5. Sharing personal experiences
Students discuss several aspects of a movie they recently saw (technology, location, language) and compare them with the movie produced by J.C. Lamster.
The teachers concludes that fun and entertainment sectors play a role in spreading messages. Colonial authorities took film seriously as a way to represent local cultures, to define what constituted ‘progress’ and ‘modern life,’ and to control Southeast Asian nations.
7. Suggestions for home extension activity
Students deepen their reflection on recent movies as a homework.
8. Teacher talk
This lecture briefly introduces local movie production in Southeast Asia during the colonial period.
9. Group work: Analysis of movie posters
In small groups, students analyze posters from locally-produced movies and identify local and Western elements.
10. Group work: Analysis of the nationalist film Indonesia Calling
Students watch extract from the movie Indonesia Calling. In small groups, they reflect on this movie with the support of a handout.
Watch the movie
The teacher highlight the key points of the lesson and discussion (use of movies as tools to support colonialism or nationalism movements, use of both global and local elements in past as well as contemporary movies)
12. Suggested home extension activities
- Students create a blog to post their reflections online on contemporary Southeast Asian film.
- Students write a news report/review on a contemporary Southeast Asian film, evaluating how much of the content/style/imagery comes from Hollywood film and how much is distinctly national in character.
- Students create a poster for their own film that will both reflect local culture together with common themes from Hollywood cinema to appeal to popular