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Matula ad.jpg
Newspaper ad, Surabaya
Directed by Tan Tjoei Hock
Produced by The Teng Chun
Screenplay by Ferry Kock
Music by Mas Sardi
Cinematography Tan Tjoei Hock
Action Film
Release date
  • 1941 (1941) (Dutch East Indies)
Country Dutch East Indies
Language Indonesian
This article is about the film. For other uses, see Matula (disambiguation).

Matula ([maˈtula]) is a 1941 film from the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) which was directed by Tan Tjoei Hock and produced by The Teng Chun of Java Industrial Film. The black-and-white film, now likely lost, follows a young man who tries to give a woman's soul to a shaman as payment for being made handsome.


A rich yet hideously deformed youth named Matula (Ferry Kock) visits a dukun (shaman) named Tello, asking to be made handsome. Tello agrees, then does the deed. When Matula asks him to name his price, Tello asks to be paid with a soul. Using his magic, Tello arranges for Emma (Dewi Mada), the daughter of a rich businessman, to meet Matula in a plantation, where Matula can convince her to come with him. Upon realising what is happening, Emma's father Johan and her fiancé Paul chase down Matula. They are too late, as Tello has taken Emma's soul. The four men fight, and though Paul's soul is almost taken, Johan is able to defeat Tello with a bamboo shaft. Defeated, Tello returns Emma's soul. Matula returns to his original form, reeking of death; Tello then demands his soul.[1]


Matula was produced by The Teng Chun for Action Film, a subsidiary of his company New Java Industrial Film. It was directed by Tan Tjoei Hock, a former theatre assistant who had worked who had made his directorial debut the preceding year with Dasima; Tan also handled cinematography.[2] Music was handled by Mas Sardi.[3]

It was written by Ferry Kock (who also starred), a former stage actor with the touring troupe Dardanella who had made his film debut in 1940 with Rentjong Atjeh.[4] The black-and-white film also starred Dewi Mada, Mohamad Mochtar, and Bissu.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

Matula was released in 1941, reaching Surabaya by late January. Open to audiences aged 17 and older, it was advertised as "a film of black magic (guna-guna), action, and romance".[a][6] A review in the Surabaya-based Soerabaijasch Handelsblad stated that the film was "in every way successful",[b] particularly praising Kock's performance.[7]

The film is likely lost. The American visual anthropologist Karl G. Heider writes that all Indonesian films from before 1950 are lost.[8] However, JB Kristanto's Katalog Film Indonesia (Indonesian Film Catalogue) records several as having survived at Sinematek Indonesia's archives, and Biran writes that several Japanese propaganda films have survived at the Netherlands Government Information Service.[9]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ Original: "... een film over zwarte Magie (goena-goena) - romantiek en actie."
  2. ^ Original: "... in alle opzichten goed geslaagd."


Works cited[edit]