Fireworks, or Kembang Api, is an Indonesian drama film based on an earlier Japanese film named 3 Feet Ball & Souls. The premise of this film is that four unknown strangers, who had only spoken to each other on an online chat group before, meet to commit suicide together with the help of a unique ball of fireworks. Although not very moving or effective, Fireworks is just a feel-good film that can be watched for some light entertainment.
‘Fireworks’ Plot Summary: What Happens In The Film?
Fireworks begins with a man hauling a trolley inside a small room that looks mostly like a work shed. On top of this trolley is a gigantic ball, which he unties and then tries to switch on the lights in the room. The switches do not work, and the man has to turn the small lightbulb to get it on, and while doing so, he takes a look at a photograph he is carrying. Within a few minutes, another man, much younger than the first, walks in and confirms whether he is at the right place. The two are part of an online group named Fireworks, and they have all been using pseudonyms so far. The new man is called Black Orchid, while the earlier one refers to himself as Cloudy Sky. Soon, a third member joins in, this time a woman who refers to herself as White Skull.
As the three sit themselves, the purpose of their meeting becomes clear, for they have gathered to commit suicide together. The online chat group that had been created was for the sole purpose of discussing such an act, and the three had settled on a time and place to execute their plan, with a fourth member coming as well. The giant ball that sits at the center of the room has been filled with numerous fireworks, and when detonated, the explosion would be enough to blow the entire room apart, along with the four members. Exactly fifteen minutes after the supposed meeting time, the fourth member walks in—a young schoolgirl named Anggun. The others are a bit shocked to see such a young girl wanting to kill herself and casually state how she must have so much hope and possibilities left in life, but Anggun is not one to change her mind.
After some deliberation, the first man, Cloudy Sky, decides to bring out the detonator and finally presses the switch to make the bomb explode. Numerous fireworks swarm the skies, and the explosion is surely devastating enough to blow up the workshed along with the four members. However, Cloudy Sky suddenly finds himself in the same situation, turning the bulb on to have light inside the work shed, and then the three members gradually walk in, just like earlier.
Why Does The Bomb Not Kill The Characters?
After this strange occurrence, Cloudy Sky is shocked to be reliving the same moment and initially believes that he has déjà vu. When he tells Black Orchid about all this, the younger man does not believe in any of it, as he does not remember anything like this having happened before. Similar reactions are given by the third and fourth members as well. This time, it is Black Orchid who presses the button, and the same explosion takes place. But yet again, the same scenario repeats itself, and the four characters meet in the same room. This time, though, Black Orchid remembers the entire incident, and he is just as shocked as the first man before.
Black Orchid comes up with the theory that they must be stuck in some sort of time loop, just like the ones in sci-fi movies, as he remembers. Now it is White Skull who happens to press the button, and almost like clockwork, which can never fail, the characters again relive the same scene, with the woman now remembering what had happened in the previous iteration. Different theories, like that of the time loop or that they are stuck in some purgatory for having committed the crime of taking their own lives are discussed.
Eventually, Cloudy Sky starts to believe that they are unable to die because of the fourth member, Anggun, who is a minor, and it is, therefore, a more sinister crime to let her kill herself. Over time, he is able to convince the other members to do the same. Together, they decide to confront Anggun and stop her from committing the act. Although initially, this is solely because of their self-centered will to end their lives, over time, the three do seem to get genuinely concerned for the young girl.
Till the very end of Fireworks, there is no answer provided as to why the fireworks bomb was not killing the characters, be it any logical reasoning or supernatural occurrence. Each of the iterations does manage to get the characters more open to each other, and so on a symbolic level, each iteration can be thought of as an extra step of effort that one should take to talk about their pains and difficulties. Perhaps each iteration represents each of the instances when a suffering person carelessly, or maybe intentionally, thinks of ending their life. As these multiple attempts culminate in something so tragic and terrible, it is also a possibility that the individual understands the value of their life and ultimately does not make the actual attempt. This possibility is what is portrayed in Fireworks, as the individuals realize the potential that their lives still have. The entire scenario can even be thought of as a dramatic representation of the chats that the four would have in their groups, with each explosion representing a member exiting the group and deciding to pull the plug on their lives. The next iteration again shows how they would return to the same group to finally open up and seek help from the others.
Who Were The Four Characters? Why Were They Trying To Commit Suicide?
In their attempt to reach out to Anggun and convince her not to commit suicide, the three other members share their own real identities and talk about the reasons behind their decisions. Although discussing such personal matters had initially been decided to be against the group’s rules, the characters ultimately end up changing this rule in order to save Anggun and also to continue their effort to kill themselves.
Cloudy Sky, the founder of the group, is actually named Fahmi, and he had worked for many years as a pyrotechnician at a fireworks factory. One evening, during an important fireworks show attended by politicians and business delegates, Fahmi could not launch the fireworks properly. There was some problem with the codes, and the show could not be remotely started as per usual. Manually lighting such extensive fireworks was also not an option, and ultimately Fahmi and his team had to concede that there would be no fireworks show that evening. Such a mishap caused the company massive financial loss, and the man was given the responsibility of paying for this entire loss. Not only did Fahmi lose the job, but he was also fined an enormous sum of 1.3 billion rupiahs.
Unable to come up with such a hefty amount of money through any job, Fahmi started borrowing from money lenders and also had a large debt to repay. His teenage daughter was very interested and determined to become a doctor, so he needed to keep money aside for her education as well. Burdened by all these thoughts, the man decided to kill himself so that his family would receive insurance money. His plan to die with the help of a giant ball of fireworks was so that his family could claim that he had died while working, and they would also receive monetary compensation for his death. It was Fahmi who had created the online group in order to get more people to commit suicide with him so that the scene would look like an accident and not a deliberate plan. Incidentally, it is revealed at the very end that Fahmi had chosen the time for the plan to be the night before his birthday.
Black Orchid was a doctor by profession, a gynecologist, to be specific, and his real name was Raga. Having been an academically bright student his entire life, Raga had grown up to become quite a reputed doctor, and he practiced at one of the leading hospitals in his city. But the fear of failure was always something that disturbed Raga, and it took a nasty shape when a patient of his died on the operation table, along with her unborn child. The doctor was shaken to his core, and the fear of failure, which immediately resulted in the death of innocent life in his profession, led to Raga’s mental peace being totally destroyed. This, in turn, resulted in a decline in his professional efficiency, and soon the matter became such that Raga would physically fall sick every time he would be contacted by the hospital. Unable to live on with this constant fear of failing, Raga decided to end his life and joined the group to do so.
White Skull was a woman named Sukma who was enjoying a loving life with her husband and young son. The young boy, Darwin, was very enthusiastic about spending more time with his father and accompanying him on a trip to Japan, and he was excitedly telling all this to his mother one fateful morning. While Sukma was driving the car, Darwin was showing her a tall structure he had built with building block toys, and to him, this was a representation of the Monas Tower in Jakarta. During this time, Sukma failed to notice a vehicle rushing towards them, and they met with a horrific accident. While she got away with negligible injuries, Sukma lost her son forever, and out of the pain and guilt of this incident, she became a completely changed woman. Never leaving her house or sitting in cars anymore, Sukma ultimately came to the conclusion that ending her life was the only way to find respite.
Lastly, the young Anggun reveals that she had not been using any pseudonym like the others and that her real name was indeed Anggun. The girl reveals that the main reason for her wanting to kill herself was a group of girls at her school who used to incessantly bully her. After beating her up and taking money from her, the bullies moved to harsher ways and edited Anggun’s face in objectionable photos. Threatening to release these photos, they were extorting the girl for more money, and Anggun had to resort to stealing money from her mother. With the fear of whatever the bullies might do next and the guilt of hiding the matter from her parents and stealing money from them instead, Anggun decided to join the online group and commit suicide. She was also convinced that her death would teach her bullies a lesson, and the young girl was more motivated by such an innocent thought as well.
‘Fireworks’ Ending Explained: What Ultimately Happens To The Four Characters?
The three elder members try to convince Anggun about how her bullies would not care much about her death, and instead, it would be her parents, especially her mother, who would be devastated her whole life. While doing so, Fahmi, Raga, and Sukma also came to the conclusion that their families would also be heartbroken for the rest of their lives and that nothing could compensate for their respective losses. Each finds a solution for the other’s problems, and they all see the good in each other. Gradually convincing themselves to still have some hope for life and also interpreting the repeated iterations as multiple second chances that life was throwing at them, the three canceled their plan. They come to the conclusion that the words written on the body of the bomb, “urip iku urup,” meaning “to live is to light up,” must be the reason that they cannot die, for such a hopeful and positive message does not go with death. At the end of Fireworks, when the three inform Anggun of their decision and also let the young girl make her own decision, Anggun also decides to cancel her plan. Together, the four members leave the room, and after moving to a safe distance, they detonate the bomb to witness a spectacular fireworks show in the sky.
Fireworks also provides information about what the four do after this strange incident. Putting faith in his skill of being able to craft such spectacular fireworks, Fahmi found jobs at other places to then finally start his own fireworks factory, which he named “Urip Urup.” Fahmi’s daughter also successfully completed her education and became a practicing doctor. Convincing himself that he only needed a change in the profession and not a dramatic end to his life, Raga left his job as a doctor and started his own business serving healthy food to mothers and children. Finding the will to move on from the loss of her son, Sukma became loving to her husband once again, and the couple then had another son. Anggun grew up fine enough to work at a kindergarten school, and then she, too, got married. All four of the characters continued to stay in touch with each other, and through their bleak effort to commit suicide together, they found everlasting friends and a bright will to live.