The Girl Under Glass

by Willis Wong

Shot almost entirely in the vast expanses of the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Postcards follows the wandering Lana (Ladya Cheryl), abandoned there as a little girl and now working as a zoo keeper and guide.  As the inner workings of the zoo are shown we find Lana thriving under the fatherly mentor there.  One day a charismatic magician in full cowboy gear charms her with his tricks, luring her out of the zoo’s green paradise and into the big bad city.  Becoming her second father figure and mentor, he makes Lara his assistant to sell his snake oils in the street market.  The pair eventually end up as the entertainment in a brothel where Lana is abandoned once again (the cowboy literally disappears in a fiery puff of smoke!)  and is now put behind glass for the customers.      

Throughout her experiences in the city, no matter how sordid and depressing, Lana maintains a wide-eyed innocence, breezily accepting her fate as the animals in the zoo must accept theirs.  Paralleling Lara’s exploitation are the lingering scenes that reveal the zoo’s crass commercialization in its animal-shaped amusement rides and park workers hawking animal toys to the kids.  As with Lara in the brothel, the zoo animals become entertainment for the paying masses; both are chained, caged, and isolated outside of their natural environment, making her sudden return home cathartic. 


Postcards from the Zoo
Directed by Edwin
Indonesia, 2012