Bali IB DP English

“Coffee with Max Havelaar” – Saïja-Adinda and the Max Havelaar Film.

In Coffee with Max Havelaar on 16/04/2009 at 13:36

Host: Welcome back to “Coffee with Max Havelaar”! You know, in the book, there is one event which has been recounted through a style which I feel is extremely unlike the others in the story – the tale of Saïja and Adinda (chapter 17). To be honest, I consider this “monotonous” story (as Scarfman describes it) actually the complete opposite of boring. It is perhaps the most influential and moving events in the novel, because generally, both Droogstoppel and Scarfman have a very ‘analytical’ air in their writing – focusing on conflicts and reactions to an event rather than the events itself. In this short story however, a true literary ‘depth’ is achieved; a depth which is so conventional to every-day readers. There is a defined, how you would say…’arc’ which gives it a fine vibrancy…that stereotypical journey of love which a hero undertakes to reach his goal. Although some people would consider this rather cliché, this part seemed to be a kind of subtle link throughout the story.

Multatuli, tell us, what makes Saïja and Adinda’s love story – something which is so isolated from the events which Scarfman in particular brings about – especially significant? 

Multatuli: I suppose this simply elaborates on Scarfman’s analysis of the story. The ‘falling apart’ of Saïja and Adinda’s relationship is a consequence of oppression in Java, where this story was set. This is an important issue which is battled with in the characters’ stories. It is also similar to the case of Max Havelaar’s individual character. Although Saïja and Adinda’s story is more fictional, I wanted the consequences of oppression to create strong emotional reactions in the readers. I wanted them to feel sad for Saïja when he found Adinda’s mangled, lifeless body, and I wanted to sprout anger against those who were responsible for his broken heart.


Long has the belly of my bajing been filled…

Long has he been back in the comfort of his nest…

But ever my soul

And my heart are bitterly sad…ADINDA!

– Page 271

Host: I’ve also heard that an Indonesian film was produced quite recently named Saija-Adinda based on the events from your novel. It’s a shame it’s in Indonesian, but I’ve found some information on it right here on WordPress.

Multatuli: Yes, I’ve heard of it, but it seems to be a modernized adaption of the events. More like a teenage drama.

Host: That’s true. But the actual 1976 film – Max Havelaar – directed by…Fons Rademakers? Yes, that seems to have had a greater success. Unfortunately, this one was in Dutch, so I couldn’t understand it either, and not to mention that it lasted for at least three hours! But I heard it was competing for an Oscar for best foreign-language film.

A screen-shot from the film ( Max seems to have a striking resemblance to you, Multatuli, doesn’t he?(Multatuli’s portrait can be found through this link:

Multatuli: Ha! You should have really seen me when I was young and handsome! But I suppose the actor is quite…fitting.

Host: Haha! Tina is also exactly how I pictured her in the novel! Well ladies and gentlemen…I’m afraid my dose of caffeine has timed out again. We’re going for a refill of Starbucks. Join us again next time only on     


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