THE RAINBOW TROOPSBelitong is a tiny island in the Indonesian archipelago. This isle is the setting for Indonesian author Andrea Hirata’s 2005 novel, “Rainbow Warriors” which is a literary investigation of the writer’s own school career. The film also revisits these schooldays in one long flashback told from the point of view of an adult returnee to Belitong.
The story begins on the first day of school. Two teachers – Muslimah and Harfan – are eagerly awaiting the beginning of the new school year and the arrival of their new pupils. At least ten pupils need to attend their decrepit old Islamic primary school – otherwise the educational authority will close the school down. No wonder that Muslimah and Harfan are nervous.
Luckily, ten students do indeed register for school. Most of them are the children of poor day labourers. Muslimah gives the group an official nickname and together they form a little enclave of first graders, or ‘rainbow troops’. Besides Ikal, the storyteller, the other talented children in this class include Lintang, the son of a fisherman, who turns out to be a real genius, as well as a dreamer and music lover named Mahar who never goes anywhere without his radio. Following their fortunes over a period of five years, the film depicts the struggle of these disadvantaged children for the right to make their dreams reality.