Goona-Goona (1932)

GOONA-GOONA (1932)
aka Kriss
Article 5296 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-12-2016
Directed by Armand Denis and Andre Roosevelt
Featuring natives of Bali
Country: France / USA
What it is: Half documentary / half melodrama

A Balinese prince returns to Bali from Europe to marry the daughter of a raja, but he desires a girl who works in the market who is married to a local worker. However, the local sorcerer has a love potion…

One could argue that this movie wanders away from the plot too often, but that would be missing the point that the movie seems primarily to be a documentary of sorts on the daily life of the natives of Bali. As such, it’s certainly more interesting for its snapshots of Balinese life; I’m especially taken with the native masks worn during a ceremony to drive evil spirits away before a marriage. The main title refers to the love potion that provides the movie’s fantastic content; the alternate title stands for a special type of knife handed down as an heirloom that plays into the story. This movie was distributed on a states right basis, most likely due to the extensive topless nudity in the movie; Balinese women only wear tops during ceremonial occasions. Due to the way it was distributed, lengths of prints of this movie range from 42 to 70 minutes long; for reference purposes, the print I saw ran 65 minutes. The story itself isn’t particularly novel, but it has its uses as a cinematic snapshot of an island culture.

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