The Coveted East Indies (film #596 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]

This late 30s color travelogue is missing its soundtrack, or maybe it was silent to begin with––it's hard to tell. Anyway, it's about the Dutch East Indies and it gives an interesting snapshot of what the islands were like on the eve of WWII. There's lots of class differences apparent here, with lots of footage of rich upper-class white people contrasted with the poor, hardworking natives. There's lots of military footage, too, as the island gear up for war. And there's lots of ordinary travelogue stuff, such as scenery and the locals showng us their culture. I sure wish there was a soundtrack to explain some of this stuff, but even without it there are some striking images, such as a bizarre poster of a political cartoon with the caption in Dutch, the sad face of a child peddlar who carries a huge yoke of stuff on his shoulders, and local women demonstrating various native crafts related to fabric dying. A great historical snapshot of a single place at a single time.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.


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