Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
In 1948, novelist Hella Haasse published a novel based on her experiences in growing up in Dutch Indonesia. Oeroeg captures the dilemma of those caught between the pretensions and culture of their Dutch homeland and their respect and affection for the native people of the colonies, and it has became a classic, with many editions printed. In this story, Johan (Rik Launspach), a European boy grows up on a plantation running and playing with his best friend, the son of the foreman, a native boy called Oeroeg (Martin Schwab). He is only barely aware of the gulf that divides them, but gradually becomes more aware of it as he leaves to study back in the Netherlands. When he comes home, it is as a soldier in the army, who are in Indonesia to put down the local independence movement. Not only is Johan grieved to be taking arms against Indonesians in general, and distressed at the racism of his colleagues, but he has reason to believe that his old friend is now a leader in the forces he is obliged to fight. He goes on a mission into the jungle to find him.