Aladin is one of very few surviving examples of entertainment films from Indonesia’s post World War II period. Produced by companies owned by Chinese migrants such as Golden Arrow, these films featured fantastic stories of cosmopolitan tales, such as 1001 Nights. In Aladin, director Tan Sing Hwat criticizes corrupt military officers and warns the rich against the ills of corruption through magical visual effects, singing, dancing and fight scenes. This film stands as a document of a freshly decolonized Indonesia, a time when folk theater found ways to morph into cinema forms to become an expression of social justice activism.
Umi Lestari, a writer, curator, and teacher, is studying the histories and aesthetics of Indonesian cinema, and works as a lecturer at the Film Department, Universitas Multimedia Nusantara, Jakarta, Indonesia.