Taglines: A Love caught in the fire Of revolution.
Guy Hamilton is a journalist on his first job as a foreign correspondent. His apparently humdrum assignment to Indonesia soon turns hot as President Sukarno electrifies the populace and frightens foreign powers. Guy soon is the hottest reporter on the story with the help of his photographer, half- Chinese dwarf Billy Kwan, who has gone native. Guy’s affair with diplomat Jill Bryant also helps. Eventually Guy must face some major moral choices and the relationship between Billy and him reaches a crisis at the same time the politics of Indonesia does.
The Year of Living Dangerously is a 1982 Australian romantic war drama film directed by Peter Weir and co-written by Weir and David Williamson adapted from Christopher Koch’s 1978 novel of the same name. The story is about a love affair set in Indonesia during the overthrow of President Sukarno. It follows a group of foreign correspondents in Jakarta on the eve of an attempted coup by the 30 September Movement in 1965.
The film stars Mel Gibson as an Australian journalist, and Sigourney Weaver as a British Embassy officer. It also stars Linda Hunt as the male dwarf Billy Kwan, Hamilton’s local photographer contact, a role for which Hunt won the 1983 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film was shot in both Australia and the Philippines and includes Australian actors Bill Kerr as Colonel Henderson and Noel Ferrier as Wally O’Sullivan.
About the Story
Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson), a neophyte foreign correspondent for an Australian network, arrives in Jakarta on assignment. He meets the close-knit members of the foreign correspondent community including journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States, and New Zealand, diplomatic personnel, and a Chinese-Australian dwarf of high intelligence and moral seriousness, Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt).
Hamilton is initially unsuccessful because his predecessor, tired of life in Indonesia, had departed without introducing Hamilton to his contacts. He receives limited sympathy from the journalist community, which competes for scraps of information from Sukarno’s (Mike Emperio) government, the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), and the conservative Muslim military. However, Kwan takes a liking to Hamilton and arranges interviews for him with key political figures.
Kwan introduces Hamilton to Jill Bryant (Sigourney Weaver), a beautiful young assistant at the British embassy. Kwan and Bryant are close friends, and he subtly manipulates her encounters with Hamilton. After resisting Hamilton because she’s returning to the United Kingdom, Bryant falls in love with him. Discovering that the Communist Chinese are arming the PKI, Bryant passes this information to Hamilton to save his life, but he wants to cover the Communist rebellion that will occur when the arms shipment reaches Jakarta. Shocked, Kwan and Bryant withdraw their friendship from Hamilton, and he is left with the American journalist Pete Curtis (Michael Murphy), and his own assistant and driver Kumar (Bembol Roco), who is secretly PKI. Kumar, however, remains loyal to Hamilton and tries to open his eyes to all that is going on.
Kwan, outraged by Sukarno’s failure to meet the needs of most Indonesians, decides to hang a sign saying “Sukarno feed your people” from the Hotel Indonesia expressing his outrage but is thrown from the window by security men, and dies in Hamilton’s arms. His death is also witnessed by Jill. Still in search of “the big story”, Hamilton visits the Presidential palace after the army generals have taken over and unleashed executions, after they learned of the Communist shipment. Struck down by an Army officer, Hamilton suffers a detached retina.
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Directed by: Peter Weir
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hunt, Michael Murphy, Bill Kerr, Noel Ferrier, Bembol Roco, Dominador Robridillo, Joel Agona
Screenplay by: David Williamson, Peter Weir
Cinematography by: Russell Boyd
Film Editing by: William M. Anderson
Costume Design by: Terry Ryan
Art Direction by: Herbert Pinter
Music by: Maurice Jarre
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists, United International Pictures
Release Date: December 17, 1982