Tue, 01 Nov 1994

Chinese drama: 'Sampek-Engtay'

I'd like to thank Mr. Tambunan for his encouraging comments, The Jakarta Post, Oct. 31, 1994, on my article titled Sampek- Engtay.

You cited the part which says "the film seems to interpret women's existence in terms of sex," and, after watching the film twice, you said you did not see how the film interprets women's existence in terms of sex.

I do see your point in this matter. This is possibly, because my version of "a woman's rights interpreted in terms of sex" was erroneously edited into "women's existence interpreted in terms of sex."

I arrived at that conclusion because it was Engtay, not Sampek, who initiated the hugging, cuddling and kissing. By portraying the scene as such, the film suggests that women, too, have the right to start what has been traditionally, and commonly expected from, initiated by men.

You then said in your letter you were not sure what happened next, so that you had to ask whether it was sex they had or love they made, because for you, the two are profoundly different.

Yes, there is a slight difference in meaning "having sex" and "making love," though the two also have exactly the same meaning, which is, engaging in sexual intercourse. "Making love" could just mean an act of courtship (see Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1st reference) or petting (2nd reference).

The fact is, although sex is implied, the film does not clearly show what they did next, and because of that, I wrote "and ... you can guess what happened next..." This uncertainty is an aspect of film making, and story writing too, that serves as a tool to add zest and stimulate natural human tendency towards curiosity.