Sandeep Ray is a PhD candidate in Singapore, working on Dutch colonial film-making. He pays also good attention to the two major mission movies, Rio Rago, a very romantic, even sentimental story of the fight between heathenism/Islam and the new Catholic religion in Flores, concentrating on the story of a girl who must marry a haji because her father is indebted to this man. We saw already several times this most popular missionary movie of the late 1920s.
Yesterday we saw the other long movie (2 hours, 7 minutes), on the Flores Mission, This movie has a slow start: beginning in the Netherlands where a boy goes to the seminary in Steijl, follows education until the ordination to priesthood. Also the seminary in Belgium, the education for nuns and lay brothers receives good attention in the first 30 minutes.
The mission cross is given to the missionaries who then leave on a huge boat, to Colombo, finally arrive in Batavia.
The new missionaries are well received in Ndona by the faithful, especially young students who play the brass band.
Only the last fifteen minutes are more strictly about missionary work, schools (starting with the carpenter brother), cattle breeding, chicken, sisters on horseback visiting the sick in villages. Some school classes, again the brass band, girls waving.
The missionary is finally shown in ceremonial liturgical dress.
This is a nice class of instruction on Indonesia in the early 1930s, especially the island of Flores. It depicts Catholic mission as a modernizing movement rather than as a new and powerful religion.
The first time I saw a missionary movie was in Leiden, about 1990: the anthropologists had a project of interesting movies and showed Ria Rago, but after 20 minutes the tape set fire and it was stopped. Then I could buy a copy from KDC, the Catholic documentation centre of Nijmegen University.
Now Sandeep Ray received the access to the movie through a code on the internet from the Eye Institute in Amsterdam, the Dutch Institute for photographs and movies. Thank you, Sandeep for sharing this link with us.