Tuesday, November 11, 2014
"Bitter Honey" examines polygamy in Bali (Indonesia); I recall an incident there in 2002
The film “Bitter Honey” by Robert Lemelson documents the practice of polygamy in Bali, of Indonesia.
About 10% of all married men in Bali have more than one wife, and often “marry” a second time without permission of the spouse. A lawyer explains that Indonesia law allows it when the wife is unable to bear children or continue the obligations of marriage. The film doesn’t mention Sharia.
The film particularly follows the families of three men, who tend to be overweight, tattooed, an unattractive by western standards. Again, do looks matter? Not here.
The women say they are left without support when their husbands provide competing spouses.
Toward the end of the film, there is a scene in a disco in Bali. I recalled the October 2002 attack in Kuta, as described in Wikipedia here. Shortly after that incident, I got a bizarre email inviting me to a disco party in Bali. This might have been spam, but it was sent long before spam had become so commonplace. I forwarded it to the FBI office in Minneapolis where I lived then. About three days later, news media announced that another terror plot aimed at another disco in Indonesia had been thwarted, with mass arrests.
Wikipedia attribution link for Bali Memorial picture
Remember that Bali was the site of some of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "South Pacific" (in the 1950s from Fox) including several of the songs. It seems as though some of the musicals of the era trivialized what people really went through.
Official site for the film is here. The production and distributor seem to be Elemental Productions. I saw the film Monday afternoon at the West End Cinema in Washington before a fair audience.