Violence, epic. We have been prepared by American visual lexicon’s brutal portrayal of death and dying: from the Walking Dead, to Final Destination, to UFC, Heneral Luna will not be short of that. But it will not overwhelm you either. Sakto ang timpla. I watched the movie with my sister and nanay; and a head being blown off by canon shot, did not elicit a bit of concern for me for my mother. She’s a Walking Dead fan, so she’s visually trained to watch carnage. In 10 minutes you are certain the rest of the film will rock.
Having that at the start of Heneral Luna you already know that this film is not pa-cute. It breathed in fresh air – that at last! – we are being taken off from our elementary and high school textbook history and back into the entrails of the real: killing, war, deception, self-interests, foul language, laziness, adultery, treachery and so on. But despite those, everything seemed familiar – an experience you will never have from watching any Hollywood movies.
Writing for CNN Philippines, Paolo del Rosario’s Heneral Luna’: Sparking a conversation, puts it nicely, “Despite being a historical epic set during one of the darkest periods in the country’s history, the film embodies the very Filipino habit of drawing laughs and smiles no matter how tough the times.”
You don’t laugh at a distance. You laugh because you see your relatives, neighbors, parents, yourself. The incompetence of the soldiers, the love of abeyance, pasyal kasama ang pamilya, meryenda and the general air of laxity, if that is the proper word, and the easy going style of Filipinos end up laughable and sometimes adorable. Tayo yan!
There were so many questions raised by the film. But one thing is sure – it touched us. It helped us see that our history is not denied of blood. That love of country is love of countrymen first. After watching the film I told my sister as we walked out of the cinema, “Parang wala na akong gana manood ng ibang pelikula, ang galing ng Heneral Luna.”
Then I began to ask again a question raised in my teens, “bakit galit nag alit tayo sa mga frayle e mas maraming pinatay at ginahasa ang mga Amerikano at Hapon kaysa mga Kastila sa kanilang 300 taong pananatili sa atin?”
Watch Heneral Luna.