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Battle of Surabaya, an Object for a Netherlands’s Doctoral Thesis

Arnound Arps, a lecturer of Amsterdam University, made his visit to MSV Pictures. Dazzled by Battle of Surabaya which succeeded to be nominated in Holland International Festival official selection last year, he decided to make it as the object of his doctoral thesis.

Spending his scholarship from Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) by doing his doctoral research, A.S. Arnoud Arps, M.A. is aiming at obtaining his Ph.D title in humanitarianism with Prof.Dr.Ir Jeroen de Kloet  as his promotor. The thesis, under the title of Remembering Violence : Cultural Memory, Popular Culture and the Indonesian War of Independence, is one of Arps’s works which focus on Dutch and Indonesian culture. This is why he is exceptionally interested in the way Battle of Surabaya depicts the life and determination during the war which is nothing like how most other movies portray.


Welcomed by the director of Battle of Surabaya himself, Aryanto Yuniawan, asked some questions regarding his research on Indonesia film media and popular culture during 1945 – 1949. The most fascinating thing to him is that Battle of Surabaya is the only animation film that tells about the war during 1945-1949, while the others are usually live action ones.


His doctoral thesis focus on the history during the war, including how the culture was produced and reconstructed to be enjoyed in the form of popular culture such as Battle of Surabaya the movie. His research also examine the merciless attacks on civilians and reveals some hidden facts. The term war here refers to the war in gaining and maintaining Indonesian sovereignty.

Arnound’s research will analyse three main points. First point is to analyse how the film producer brought back the memory of merciless Dutch army. Second, is to analyse how far Battle of Surabaya reconstructed those memory. Third point is to analyse how Indonesian evaluate and acknowledge such film which tells about war.


Battle of Surabaya is intended for all ages that this film does not expose any kinds of war brutality. Producers should consider the circumstances of the country where the films is meant to be released. In Japan, for instance, Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing gives certain emotional impact, so the very specific scene was cut a little in the prologue of Battle of Surabaya. In other parts, the dead of General Mallaby has some versions in the history which then MSV Studio made it as an accident when a civilian of Surabaya unintentionally shot him. Arnound’s research will be placed in Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS) and  the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA).

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