Negeri 5 Menara: a kinda short-unimportant-and-simple movie review


One afternoon we were confused to choose about what movie we’d like to watch. Our choice is between Negeri 5 Menara (N5M) and Hugo. Since we’re didn’t really know Hugo, so our choice is goes to N5M. My hubby has the novel, but we never read it yet. But I really curious after read some comments and responses from some people who have watched the film.  So, the tickets brought us to the movie.


The cinema room is not filled more than one quarter. Some audiences are kids with their mother or family. You can count some couples by the left hand. That’s including me and my hubby. It’s funny to see how a good movie (or a movie that based-on-a-novel) is not better in absorbing audience than the pocong-kuntilanak-whatsoever films. Even it has the same price, then entertaining is about relativity. Actually there are some good local movies from good movie makers too. But we have to admit that not many people who appreciate the presence of Indonesian (good) movies nowadays. Some people are tending to choose a lovey-dovey or crappy movie rather than a good one. Good, I mean, a movie with a simply human touch. A movie that can move life spirit, capturing a social reality or a movie that can give you a hard slap in your face.

About this movie, I have several things to share. First, I never had a visualization about what is pesantren before—after a man who being my husband is a santri (a person who learn and study in pesantren) and gave me some clue about it. I wasn’t growing up from a family with tight religion basis. Where take a hijab is came from your parents not from your own (by the internalizations within the family). Or how parents take over (almost of) your education—just like what happen to Alif. Call me secular or whatever, but it’s true. I’ve been study in TPA (Taman Pendidikan Al Quran) and I never get more than that. Somehow, this movie has increased my point of view about pesantren. I have to admit that I’ve underestimated most of people in pesantren. Maybe because I only get the partial story from one side (which is my hubby), so what remains in my mind is just the bad ones. Sorry to say. So, what’s thing that I’ve learned? I’ll describe later.

Second, I learn from Amak and Bapak (Alif’s parents) about care giving and being parent who can letting go peacefully (in Islam it called: ikhlas). Well, after being a mother, for me it’s a hard work to be ikhlas. A story about Alif’s struggling in pesantren cannot be separated from his parent’s hard works too. There’s a scene when Alif apart from his parents and suddenly I can feel what my parents felt about me (about ten years ago). Leaving me live independently in Jogja and far away from them. Well, for me, that’s a hard work. I just still can’t imagine if I have to felt the same way to Chiya. I just can’t! Not now.

What Alif’s parents doing practically is about to prepare their son into success. The problem is, we never know the precise definition what is “success”. By parents (our own) perception or by the child? Sometimes we’re really “sok tau” of knowing what the best for our kids. Just like Alif, in some point I feel like his parents are force him to study in pesantren. Even they’re liberating Alif to choose but (as we know) bargaining position of being child is lower than being parents. =))

Third, is about what they (santri) saw and get in pesantren. I can see how hard they study in Islam basis (with strict ways too). They’re study and living in a dormitory with strong Muslim atmosphere where you have to tighten up your faith every day.  The curriculum aren’t only focus on religion basis but also global side through the English class and debate championship—which is not all public nor private schools has it. And when the lights are out every 9 PM and the boys have to find a candle or another light, its surprises me. Because they had to pay double effort just to survive and gain all the dreams.

The Pesantren Madani is a pseudonym for a very famous pesantren in this country at East Java. Almost every Muslim recognizes that to be a santri, you have to passed some tests and walk on a preview class for a year. And its means you’re learning time will be longer than another student. In the end, I can see clearly if a santri build their life into success from their first time in the pesantren and they can be proud of it. Because what they have been through is not easy. It’s kinda hard but it depends on the personal themselves. If they can make themselves into progress, so they can make it through.

Overall, the film is quite good. I have to recommend this film for you who missed your pesantren. Maybe it can relieve the yearning of your first love, ha-ha! Well, but just like another based-on-a-novel movies, N5M didn’t put all the scenes on the book into the frame. So you better read the book first then go to the cinema :)

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