Max Havelaar | Chicago Reader

Max Havelaar

Adapted from a classic 19th-century novel, this Dutch saga (1976) by Fons Rademakers portrays the title character's efforts to alleviate racism and corruption in the colonial East Indies. An idealistic young bureaucrat, Havelaar is named supervisor of a Javanese outpost where the natives are terrorized by the militia of a local prince; he tries to redistribute wealth and power but fails to recognize how much the prince's oppression is intertwined with his own country's subjugation of an entire culture. Aided by Jan de Bont's sumptuous cinematography, Rademakers creates a lush but foreboding environment that proves as dangerous to the hero as the prince's soldiers. With Joop Admiraal, Sacha Bulthuis, and a young Rutger Hauer. In Dutch with subtitles. 169 min.

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