Jerrold Tarog’s epic historical film Heneral Luna, which will represent the Philippines in the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film Category, has been reviewed in the New York Times by Ken Jaworski. The review is mixed but ultimately favorable. Here it is:
I’m only a little embarrassed at liking “Heneral Luna,” an audaciously manipulative movie that’s more involving than it should be. But really, when a film works this hard to rouse you, there’s no shame in just giving in.
A patriotic biopic that veers toward propaganda, “Heneral Luna” is about Antonio Luna, who in the late 1800s led the Philippine Revolutionary Army during the Philippine-American War. Early in the story he’s given command of the military. (“General Luna, it’s up to you now. This war is in your hands.”) Cue the sweeping orchestral music.
Battles are waged, speeches are made and foreign enemies soon become the least of Luna’s problems: Bureaucrats, cowards and other homegrown spoilsports continually try to sabotage his unconventional plans. “General Luna, you may be a military genius, but you do not understand politics,” one of those skeptics whines.
And here’s the trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_T1ykhy3Fg
I haven’t seen the film yet — but I’m thrilled that someone backed and produced such a movie — and that it appears to have been a box office success. I truly hope this encourages more well-made historical movies in the Philippines. Luna is a great subject for such a movie. Back in the 90s when I was making movies in the Philippines, I considered trying to develop a film about him but decided not to because the material felt too dark. Jerrold Tarog is right to pin the movie to the statement: “Brothers, we have an enemy bigger than the Americans — ourselves” as that concept is embedded in Luna’s story, particularly considering the way he died. But … it resonates from Filipino to Filipino — coming from an American filmmaker it doesn’t feel right