Review: The Forgotten Warriors (2017)

The Forgotten Warriors (2017)

Directed by: Griselda Molemans | 74 minutes | documentary

In the documentary ‘The forgotten warriors’ (2017) we follow the Indo-African Daniël Cordus (1922), a former soldier in the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) and as a prisoner of war during the Second World War, together with his brothers Jan and Jozef. , employed on the Burma-Thailand Railway. Brother Jan died as a result of torture by the Japanese; Daniel and Joseph were then deployed in the Second Police Action on Sumatra in which Joseph was killed. Daniël finally left for the Netherlands because of the hostilities to everyone associated with the KNIL.

In the Netherlands he is committed to the rehabilitation of the Indo-Africans who died before the Dutch flag, but whose history is largely unknown in the Netherlands. Now the Dutch collective memory about the Dutch colonial past is full of gaps at all, and that of the police actions in Indonesia in particular, but probably even fewer people have heard of the former slaves who were ‘voluntarily’ shipped from Africa in 1837 and Java ended up as Dutch soldiers with typical Dutch names such as Jan, Pieter, Doris, etcetera. In Java they were called belanda hitam, black Dutchmen. After their military service, they married native women and thus formed a separate Indo-African population. Some of them leave for the Netherlands after the independence of Indonesia in 1949.

This fascinating history is speeded up as an informative intermezzo by a somewhat lost voice-over by Arthur Japin and a handful of archive material. Before and after that, we follow Daniël Cordus at a reunion of the Indo-African community in the Netherlands, during his trip to Thanbyuzayat honorary cemetery in Myanmar where his brother Jan is buried, and at the ceremony where he and his brothers were celebrated by the mayor of Alkmaar for seventy years. be distinguished after that. But however valuable these moments are for those involved, these minute-long recordings do not draw the viewer further into the story. In the emotional scene in which Daniel reads a text at his brother’s grave, director Griselda Molemans chooses to show this scene for five minutes; why not amplify Daniel’s words by editing them after a few seconds on top of matching archive material?

The clumsy editing and a lack of a strong historical image make ‘The Forgotten Warriors’ look like a somewhat uninspired home video. And that’s a shame because the forgotten warriors deserve better.

Comments are closed.