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The Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey

Farah Fitriani Faruq
Farah Fitriani Faruq
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The Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey

Have you ever watched an Indonesian Odyssey?  The Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey is a series of five documentary films that documented the ten-year voyage of two filmmakers, brothers Lorne Blair and Lawrence Blair, through the world's largest and least known archipelago, — the exotic, mysterious islands of Indonesia. These islands form a chain of active volcanos that arc down and around into the Pacific to form the “Ring of Fire.”

The Blair Brothers sailed with pirates aboard their black-sailed schooners in search of the Bird of Paradise, struggled through rapids and deep jungles searching for elusive nomadic tribes, witnessed veiled forms of human sacrifice and found themselves drawn into ten years of danger and discovery in a magical land where ancient myths still flourish.

Their intimate encounters with the vanishing masters of tribal wisdom were to lead them from a physical adventure, into a deeper, more personal quest of self-discovery.

The five films of An Indonesian Odyssey:

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  1. Spice Island Saga: The Blair brothers follow the footsteps of naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace on a Bugis sail boat in search of the Bird of Paradise to the Aru Islands near New Guinea.
  2. Dance of the Warriors: The brothers sail to the islands of Komodo where they encounter the Komodo Dragon, Sumba where they witness human sacrifice, New Guinese where they meet the Asmat, and finally Bali where they build a home in a village.
  3. East of Krakatoa: The Blairs descend into a newly erupted volcano, meet a legendary artist and witness the funeral rites of the king of the Toraja people of the Celebes.
  4. Dream Wanderers of Borneo: The brothers go in search of the nomadic Punan Dyaks.
  5. Beyond the Ring of Fire: Lawrence Blair returns to a lost paradise at the outer edge of the known world eight years later on aretrospective voyage to many of the islands first visited and others never previously filmed.

Financed by Ringo Starr, the Blair Brothers arrived in Indonesia from England in 1972. The Indonesian archipelago was still dominated byancient indigenous beliefs and the Blair Brothers spent over two decades documenting the ecology of the islands and the spiritual beliefs of its peoples. One major result was the Emmy-nominated BBC/PBS television series Ring of Fire, a masterwork of modern adventure and ethnographic film.

Cut from 80 hours of 16mm film in co-production with WGBH, Boston, RING OF FIRE was produced, directed and photographed by Lorne Blair and co-produced and written by Lawrence Blair. Executive producer was Frontline's David Fanning.

“It was a form of meditational surrender and possession by a higher form of energy which first drew us to Indonesia. Isolated for long periods amongst little-known peoples, our sole defense lay in a complete vulnerability to our host’s way of being and seeing. Living amongst them, I felt that we were drawing closer to the shadow screen beyond which lay a much subtler and perhaps more dangerous adventure. Trance and possession of every form were all around us.” Lawrence Blair, when he was asked about his experienced in making this documentary.

“Now this is REAL adventure: no radios, compasses, ice, emergency supplies for months at a time through one of the most hazardous and fascinating regions on earth” Sir Richard Branson, commented about the movies.

Anyway, the Blair Brothers have also released An Indonesian Odyssey book. check it asap to feel more about their journey!

News Sources: Wikipedia, An Indonesian Odyssey

Photo Source: setterfield.org

Thanks to Mr. Akhyari Hananto for the news tips!

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