Fiche Film
LONG Métrage | 1995
Chronique coloniale (Mother Dao)
Titre original : Moeder Dao, de schildpadgelijkende | Mother Dao, con forma de tortuga
Pays concerné : Indonésie
Support : 35 mm
Durée : 90 minutes
Genre : historique
Type : documentaire


D’après la légende des indigènes de Nias, île à l’ouest de Sumatra, l’univers a été créé par Mère Dao. A l’aide des souillures qui maculaient son corps, Mère Dao a pétri, sur ses genoux, une boule. Ainsi prit forme l’univers. En réunissant l’air et la terre, elle enfanta de deux enfants, un garçon et une fille, les premiers hommes…

Cette légende cosmogonique ouvre le documentaire de Vincent Monnikendam, qui nous plonge dans les Indes néerlandaises, au début du vingtième siècle. Vincent Monnikendam a découvert, analysé et retraité plus de 260 km d’archives réalisées entre 1912 et 1933, pour donner naissance à cette œuvre originale, accompagnée de chants et de poèmes indonésiens et javanais.

Il a pour ambition d’élever la curiosité des spectateurs à un niveau de conscience qui va au-delà d’une simple représentation colonialiste.

Pays-Bas / Documentaire / 1995 / 1h29 / 35 mm / N&B / VOST
* Réalisation et scénario : Vincent Monnikendam
* Montage : Albert Markus
* Musique : Jan-Dries Groenendijk
* Production : NPS-TV


Mother Dao the Turtlelike
Moeder Dao, de schilpadgelijkende
Nederland, 1995.
Produktie: Rade Milicevic.
Scenario en samenstelling: Vincent Monnikendam.
Camera: Isodore A. Ochse, Willy Mullens, Piet Beltjens, Louis van Vuuren, L. Ph. de Bussy e.a.
Klankbeeldcompositie: Jan-Dries Groenendijk.
Digitale montage: Albert Markus.
Filmmontage: Licky Zydower.
Co-research en co-filmrestauratie: Rogier Smeele.
Zwart-wit, 90 minuten.


Monnikedam reunió películas en nitrato conservadas en los archivos nacionales y rodadas por cameraman holandeses desde 1912 a 1933 en las colonias de las Indias. Compilando más de 200 películas realizó esta obra maestra, donde muestra cómo gobernaban los holandeses sus colonias y la imagen que ellos querían de su actuación social a través de los films. Los cantos y poemas dan a los indigenas una voz que atraviesa esta fachada, conduciéndonos a otro universo, todavía desconocido para nosotros.


A spare and elegant film constructed entirely from archival nitrate footage shot between 1912 and 1932 in the former Dutch East Indies. Luminous anthropological images are set against a simple soundtrack of birdcalls, bells and murmuring voices, punctuated occasionally by native poems and songs.

A compilation of clips from documentaries and propaganda films shot by Dutch cameramen between 1912 and 1932 in their former colony of Indonesia. The film contrasts the lives of wealthy colonial rulers, who delve out orders while clad in immaculately white outfits, with the hopeless situation of the native people, who are victims of a brutal economic exploitation. Much of the footage used to be shown in the Netherlands as an illustration of the beneficial effect of the Dutch presence, but nowadays it merely evokes negative associations. Apart from images of economic repression, Moeder Dao, the Turtlelike contains archive footage that details the cultural and religious expressions of the indigenous people. The original footage had no soundtrack, but the filmmaker has added natural sounds from Indonesia, indigenous music, and recited poetry, but no voice-over. The film’s title refers to a mythical story that, according to the inhabitants of the island of Nias, situated to the west of Sumatra, explains the origin of creation.

Director’s Statement
More than 260,000 meters of 35mm documentary nitrate film footage from the Dutch film archives served as the source material for this documentary. In a span of ninety minutes the film aims to show how the Netherlands administered its colony as a colonial enterprise and what the relations were like at the time. The usual commentary has been omitted and in its place poems and songs in Bahasa Indonesia have been included in a digital sound composition.

In Mother Dao the Turtlelike, the viewer sees how the colonial machinery in the 1920s was implanted in a world so different from Western Europe. He or she will witness various phenomena and aspects of that colonial enterprise – then at its peak – which, thanks to cinematography, were recorded. The shoots for the more than one thousand 35mm nitrate documentary films took place in the Dutch West Indies between 1912 and about 1933. All belong to the collections of the two Dutch film archives, and in the meantime the main corpus has been preserved.

The documentary starts with a shortened version of the legend of the inhabitants of Nias, an isle to the West of Sumatra. It was told that the earth was created by Mother Dao. When standing on the beach, the inhabitants of the island could see the horizon half curved like the shell of a turtle. So they called the creator of the world’Mother Dao the turtlelike.’ At some point in time eternal, she collected the dirt off her body and kneaded it on her knee into a ball. That was the world. Later, she became pregnant, without knowing a man, and gave birth to a girl and a boy. They were the first people and they lived in a fertile world. And it was this fertile world that attracted the Europeans, and especially the Dutch, in their colonial endeavors.

Mother Dao the Turtlelike has been screened at forty-eight international film festivals and has received eighteen awards and prizes, among them five Golden Awards. The film was proclaimed the best Dutch film of 1995.

90 mins
Tinted B&W

Director, Script: Vincent Monnikendam
Sound Composition: Jan-Dries Groenendijk
Editing: Albert Markus, Vincent Monnikendam, Licky Zydower
Sound: Jane Snijders, Jandries Groenendijk, Floris van Manen
Music: Suhardi Djojoprasepyo, I. G. de Parimartha, Meira Setiawati, Djumila Arps
Producter: Rade Milicevic for NPS

World Sales: Nederlands Filmmuseum
Screening copy: Holland Film
Involved TV Channel: NPS
Production Company: NPS-TV

THE NETHERLANDS / 1995 / Indonesian / Color, B&W, 35mm (1:1.33) / 90 min


2009 | IDFA | Rotterdam, Netherlands |
* Selection [Eyal Sivan presents Top 10 at IDFA 2009]
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