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Listening to the title and picture of the poster, it is natural that this film seems like a mere slapstick comedy. In a number of scenes the impression is undeniable. It’s just that from the dialogues that emerge, here and there is full of flogging against various government policies. As well as photographing the socio-political situation at the beginning of the New Order. Not only from the mouths of the two versatile actors, Tan Tjeng Bok and Benyamin Suaeb, various criticisms were raised, also from other players.
Akisah, a pair of lovers (Wahab Adi and Ritje Marghareta Gerung, Miss Fotogenic Jakarta 1974) intend to occupy an old house inherited from parents. He asked residents around the site, Benyamin S and Rudy Djamil, to clean and repair some of the damaged ornaments. The repair effort did not go smoothly because both of them were often disturbed by a number of ghosts who had inhabited the empty house. At the house, the ghosts of the arrival of a Prince Dracula (Tan Tjeng Bok) who will propose to a ghost princess for his son (Pong Hardjantmo).
Of course they were very disturbed by the cleaning activities carried out by Benjamin and Rudy. They were grumbling. “We moved here because the grave has been evicted, cooking now has to be displaced again.” Then one of them said, “If we’re not happy, can’t we protest? Or just do a demonstration.” But another ghost retorted, “It’s not that here is still off limits to that.”
The film, directed by ‘Abbas Akup in 1974, was screened as the opening of the book review program “Tan Tjeng Bok, Three Age Artists 1898 – 1985” in the Lebak Bulus area a few days ago. In addition to presenting the two authors, Fandy Hutaria and and Deddy Otara, as well as historian Didi Kwartanada, as well as the producer of the film Dracula Mantu, Rushdy Hoesein.
The film was deliberately chosen to be screened because Tan Tjeng Bok aka Mr. Item once called it the biggest film starring. Viewing the story material may be so. Didi even said that this film was made to precede his era. As a result, the wider community is less able to digest the message conveyed. In short, the film that was written by Nya ‘Abbas Akup and doctor Rushdy Hoesein did not sell well in the market.
Rushdy admitted that. But personally he is not too disadvantaged because the real owner of capital is his friend, Erie Irawan Kaslan. He is a wealthy businessman, a partner of Pertamina. About the community at that time could not accept the film Dracula Mantu, as screenwriter Rushdy admitted to some extent had predicted it.
“But I made this film at that time, the main target was educated community groups, students,” he said.
For this reason, the dialogue of the players takes place in standard Indonesian. Viewers who are accustomed to watching Benjamin films will surely be amazed. Even though Bang Ben’s song and acting are typical of Bang Ben, in this film he hardly talks to Betawi idioms. In addition, the rhythm of jazz deliberately inserted Mus Mualim as a music arranger.
When the film entered the Censorship Agency, said Rushdy, who is now also known as a historian, a number of lobbies were conducted so that there were not too many dialogue scenes that were scissors. When the film began to be marketed, he got word that President Soeharto and his family joined in borrowing copies of the film to be watched at Cendana. It turned out that the ruler of the New Order was not angry with various sharp criticisms in this film. “I got the story, Pak Harto just laughed,” Rushdy said.
It was originally Benjamin who would play the role of Dracula. But Nya ‘Abbas Akup refused and chose Tan Tjeng Bok. “Even though he is old, he really understands that role,” said Rushdy who said the honorarium for Benjamin remained five times greater. “Pak Tan, I give Rp. 1 million, Benjamin Rp. 5 million,” he added.
In addition to expressing social criticism, this film also introduces the concept of reconciliation which was unknown at that time. But the concept or term becomes very actual in the current political situation. Narrated in the end of the film, because it could not show a certificate as the owner of the house of the ghosts finally migrated to a land somewhere with Prince Dracula.
The decision was preceded by a dialogue, “Why should a problem be resolved with violence? Don’t we live in a democracy?”
“I think it’s better if we deliberation.”
“Right sir, deliberation is our nation’s personality.”
“If now Pak Jokowi and Pak Prabowo are reconciling, I have been discussing it since 1974,” Rushdy said, hoping there were producers interested in making this film again.