The melodramatic children: The representation of children in Ratapan Anak Tiri [Lament of Step-Children] (1973), Ratapan Anak Tiri [Lament of Step-Children 2] (1980), and Arie Hanggara (1985)


The New Order’s cultural politics of development of national identity were applied to Indonesian films made during this period as a form of cinema politics. The New Order conceived of cinema as a medium for ideological propaganda which could and should be controlled in order to maintain political stability. Most Indonesian films made during the New Order regime depicted children as part of a discursive strategy to promote national identity within an ideological framework defined by theories of social development and discourses of social and political stability. This article focuses on Ratapan Anak Tiri [Lament of step-children] (1973), Ratapan Anak Tiri [Lament of step-children] 2 (1980), and Arie Hanggara (1985), melodrama genre films that featured suffering children among the main characters was the result of a narrative shift initiated to avoid political problems with the regime. The typical narrative of these films includes the representation of a family with the father figure as the apex, a demonised woman figure, and helpless children at the bottom of the family structure. Primary child characters are predominantly depicted as weak, dependent, and less imaginative. These melodrama films emphasised this pattern in their narrative by presenting an image of the state’s apparatus as a solver of family domestic problems.