At this point of time, countless Filipino films have been put to production. Though I would say that I enjoyed some, I would be a hypocrite to say that they are great. Yes they may have gave me a good time, but they are not even close to being great. I am referring to mainstream films that brainwash the Filipino’s minds either due to their mass appeal or sheer stupidity. I’m not trying to be harsh, but sadly that needed to be said. I have a few exceptions though such as That Thing Called Tadhana, On The Job and other various Filipino masterpieces. What I’m trying to point out here is that sadly some Filipinos are a bit ignorant to see films that feed their minds, but thankfully someone stood up and he goes by the name of Jerrold Tarrog. I saw Heneral Luna on its’ 3rd week of showing, and I was very glad that the theater was packed. This means that there is still hope for future Filipino masterpieces to be seen as Luna crossed over the mainstream.
Heneral Luna is undeniably appealing to all kinds of moviegoers old and young. It is the type of film that will be enjoyed by the masses. But aside from having an entertainment factor, the film also knows how to educate. This film is made for the youth and that can be seen in the eyes of Joven (Aron Villaflor) who interviews Luna about his experiences during the American occupation. As stated in the beginning, the film is a work of fiction based on facts however some realities need to be twisted to face a sad truth (something like that). This introduction helps give the film more impact as it conveys a message that desperately needs to be heard in times like these. The scene that follows with the cabinet members having an argument shows power in its’ rawest, as it is a depiction of politics today. Violence plays a key role in the film and it is never watered down, making it powerful. The film’s tone varies from fun to thrilling, comic to earnest without being awkward. That guarantees that the viewers are having fun whilst taking a history lesson. For a historical film, it was very entertaining and never slowed down. Intricately put together, each scene gets you excited for the next. The editing was seamless and made the film’s 2 hour run time feel like time was passing by so fast. Tarrog makes the film look “big” through its’ spectacular cinematography and his remarkable vision to bring the tale of the general to life. almost as if it was made by Hollywood. This is all done with magnificent style that makes it very accessible. More so what helps accomplish this task are the characters who we get to meet in this spectacle.
Each character was engaging and immersive, particularly the title character played by John Arcilla who brought a very human approach to the bad-ass hero and made us feel bad for his character’s fate as I felt like I was part of his journey the whole time. Even the supporting cast did a great job as well despite their limited amount of screentime. Mon Confiado was able to bring an appreciable performance without saying a lot of words, most of the time he’s just giving off this serious face wherein you’ll know what’s going on in his mind. Luna’s men Paco (Joem Bascon) and Rusca (Archie Alemania) are treated with depth without taking up much of the run-time. This is effective characterization because we feel the chemistry they have with Luna. The big character moments are evidently the most significant but occasionally it’s the little moments that examine the characters even further.
In Heneral Luna, Tarrog not does only make history look cool but he also manages to fit in commentary regarding the Philippine politics in this era and speaks for societal fallacies. Those are what made watching Heneral Luna a very pleasant viewing experience as it is a satire of historical events and Filipino culture in the guise of an incredible tale of heroism and nationalism for everyone to enjoy. Stylish, occasionally comical but endearing all throughout Heneral Luna is one of this year’s best.
Heneral Luna is still showing and is on its’ 4th week. Rated R-13 by the MTRCB.