Rizal in the Big Screen:
A Summary Paper on Jose Rizal the Movie
It was finished. Jose Rizal’s life, works, and writings finally culminated in the vast expanse of land facing the Manila Bay where he stood in front of the firing squad and the teeming crowd of Filipinos and Spaniards all under the morning sun of December 30, 1896. This is just one of the memorable scenes in the film based on his life, not only for its historical significance, but for its cinematography and focus on production details that transported me back to 19th century Philippines. Vividly recreating the important events of his life beginning in his childhood, the movie, “Jose Rizal,” directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya was the most expensive local film produced in 1998, costing Php 80 million, and was critically acclaimed here in the country and abroad. With Cesar Montano in the lead role, the star-studded cast and the large number of extras, both foreign and Spanish, brought to life the story of the national hero and the times wherein he lived. The desire of the film to faithfully recreate the past can be seen in its diverse settings, from the Mercado household in rural Calamba, Laguna, to the lively parlor rooms of Madrid, Spain. Striving to stick to the usage of Spanish and German languages for the characters, the seriousness of the film’s producers and their need for authenticity are very evident. It offers not a straightforward narrative, but alternates back and forth between scenes from El Filibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere into the real life of Rizal. This technique only reinforces the similarities and differences in the ideas and experiences between its author and the two novels’ protagonist, Crisostomo Ibarra or Simoun. The two personalities, one is real while the other is fictional, play a big role in the plot’s development. The film does not begin conventionally with Pepe’s childhood, but introduces the audience to Jose Rizal in Ghent, Belgium as he is at work on El...
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