Genre versus Local Specificity: Configuring Rangda and Durga in Balinese and Bengali Films


The transnationalization of genre has been an unavoidable phenomenon in world cinema. This paper looks at the encounter of one of the most transnationalized genre of Hollywood, that is horror, upon its encounter with Balinese local specificities that are portrayed in Indonesian film. This paper argues that horror has been in an active interaction in cinematically framing the Balinese culture. However, some elements of horror looks unease in the sense that it tends to exclude some indispensable elements to Balinese culture. The paper takes on the gap between the position of Rangda – the Balinese goddess – in Balinese culture and films. In the Balinese culture, Rangda is portrayed as the dark element that completes the ideal circle of life, while in the horror film Mystics in Bali (1980), Rangda is portrayed simply as a mere evil.  In the course of reading this, the paper conducts a comparative strategy to show that such a phenomenon is not unique to Indonesian cinema, but also to the other geographies that are in a constant critical interaction with Hollywood.