Synopsis

Extinction Number Six

An eccentric narrator’s quixotic search for the material traces of Java’s colonial, mystical, and paleontological past. Her journey is haunted in equal measure by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora and the still murky events of the 1965 Indonesian coup d’état. The film begins with a frenzied account of the 1816 Year without Summer—caused by Tambora’s eruption—which resulted in widespread famine throughout Europe. This volcanic overture then reverberates against a set of four interwoven stories exploring the lingering shadow of colonialism in Indonesia. The film includes contemporary footage shot in Indonesia, Holland, and Britain, with ghostly accumulations of layered archival material. Sound design by Jonathan Zorn includes synthesized treatments of Javanese gamelan, fin-de-siècle French piano music, 1960s Indo rock, and electro-acoustic manipulations of location sound.