Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag by Lino Brocka: a Movie Review

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  • Topic: Philippines, Edgardo M. Reyes, Lino Brocka
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  • Published : December 5, 2012
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P. GuanzonAUG 2009

Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag by Lino Brocka
A Movie Review

Lino Brocka is perhaps the greatest director the Philippines has produced so far. He created numerous films, like Wanted: Perfect Mother, Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang and Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag, to name a few. Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag, or translated in English, Manila: In The Claws of Light can be counted amongst his greatest works. Some critics have come to consider this particular film as the greatest Philippine film ever made. Brocka paints a dark picture of Manila, as a political cesspool, as a crime-filled and hopelessly desolate place. This film is an impressive film noir that reflects the ugly truths and harsh realities of Manila, from the exploitation of construction workers, to the slum areas where children have to rummage through garbage to find something to make ends meet, to prostitution and the sex slave trade. The film revolves around Julio Madaga, an innocent boy from the province who works at construction sites, and his love, Ligaya Paraiso, who was recruited by a certain Mrs. Cruz, unknowingly, into a sex slave trade and who was thus sold to a Chinese man named Ah Tek. He has many symbolisms in the film, and he plays with his characters like the Fates and the Olympians do with the Greeks of old. It is pretty ironic that the boy, Julio, whose name means “patience”, completely loses it in the film when he hears about Ligaya’s death. Ligaya Paraiso, a name that means “joyful paradise” experienced a world that was probably the total opposite. Lino Brocka utilizes different elements from different film waves, from Italian Neorealism, to the Kuleshov Effect and fragmented editing that can be attributed to Soviet Montage. He experiments and takes risks, and they all work out perfectly, like in one particular scene, the scene where Julio finds out about Ligaya’s death, that her blood is on the hands of the Chinese pimp, Ah Tek. The scene...
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