Kembang Api: A Film on Mental Health Issues and the Nuances of Existential Prison

The issue of mental health affects every human being, yet it is often viewed as a disgrace. Despite its prevalence, the recognition of its existence still feels half-hearted. Kembang Api, a film directed by Herwin Novianto, explores the dimensions of the above issue in the context of a time loop. The film, an adaptation of Yoshio Kato’s 3ft Ball & Souls, takes a unique approach to represent the nuances of the film universe and the choice of characterization to be built without neglecting the essence of the narrative.

Fahmi, Raga, Sukma, and Anggun are the main characters in the film. They carry a toxic material called depression in each of them. The dark nature of depression clashes with the cheerful nature of fireworks, and they chose a unique way to end their lives: to blow up a giant ball containing hundreds of fireworks until it covered the sky above. A sensational action that seems impossible to fail to attract the attention of the surrounding community. The collection of fireworks seems to be a manifestation of the burden of stress and traumatic experiences that are ready to rise endlessly.

These four people clearly violated the laws of nature when they found their respective bodies returning to a certain time before they pressed the detonator button on the giant ball. Every time one of them presses the blasting button on a later occasion, the person will keep a specific memory of what had previously happened. They also began to wonder why such strange things could hit their existence one by one.

At this point, aesthetic decisions regarding the construction of time loops seem to be maximized to achieve a key goal: to give the impression that Fahmi, Raga, Sukma, and Anggun get a second chance. The cause of the appearance of the time loop itself was never explained by the director until the end of the film. Perhaps it’s just a MacGuffin-level distraction. What is clear is that the four protagonists are now trapped in some kind of existential prison that prevents them from entering the death phase.

The prison forced each other to open a black hole filled with personal wounds that gaped wide. They are obliged to admit weakness, unpreparedness, fear, cowardice, the attitude of feeling the most right, and the act of isolating themselves. That recognition can help each person grow. Slowly, they gained the power to accept the situation as it was and realized that the love of those closest to them was far more valuable than the instant solution before them.

The film’s conclusion itself is marked by the decision of all individuals to rise from a psychological downturn, opening up a tightly closed personal space since experiencing a devastating event or mental shock while solidifying the determination to step into a new episode of life with loved ones.

Kembang Api raises awareness of the importance of mental health issues and the need for society to take the subject seriously. It shows the significance of recognizing mental health problems and the courage to acknowledge and face them. The film highlights the importance of seeking help from loved ones and professionals, and it shows that a person’s mental health and well-being are as crucial as their physical health.