Film Review: “Heneral Luna (2015)”

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A film review about Heneral Luna, directed by Jerrold Tarog. Heavy spoilers ahead!!


On Antonio Luna

Antonio Luna was a prideful, impulsive, childish yet disciplined man. I loved his flawed character. I loved how he guffawed when he pulled a prank on the Americans. I love how he dismissed the fact that his own brother was in jail because of a girl. I love how he literally looked up to his mother, despite his fiery spirit in the war.

He was not the rigid, emotionless and cold man I thought he was when I looked at his pictures. He was an actual person. And the movie showed his dynamic character wonderfully.

Flashback scene

I loved what they did with the cinematography of this scene. You can barely tell that it was made under a low budget. The transition was smooth, and the historical setting was incredibly accurate. The furniture moving on their own, the monologue, the acting, it was perfect.

Spoliarium

I didn’t realize this until after the movie and I did some research. But while watching, I knew. I knew there was something with that scene. I knew it looked familiar. I felt chills while watching the guards drag their body.

Spoliarium is a Latin word referring to the basement of the Roman Colosseum where the fallen and dying gladiators are dumped and devoid of their worldly possessions.

The last scene

There were so many things I loved about the last scene.

There’s one scene where the Americans are talking about Luna’s death, and they say something like “you killed him” and they looked. Right. At. The. Camera. It felt like they broke the fourth wall. I’m not sure if it’s just me though.

I also loved that whole scene with Luna’s mother and the flashbacks. The transition was smoother than baby skin.

And post-Luna death. The contrary between what Aguinaldo was saying to what was really happening to Luna will definitely spark some anger inside you for the injustice you have just witnessed.

The speech that the journalist and Luna said truly drove an impact. I feel like the journalist is us. After watching the movie, we are that journalist. We will continue this fervent passion to restore the Philippines into its natural glory, using Luna’s own words.

Overall

I can really tell that the scriptwriters put a lot of effort into making everything Luna says relatable to modern day Philippines. Although I think it’s slightly overdone, the overall picture makes the film feel absolutely timeless.

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The accuracy and symbolism they have inflicted on the film really shows how much of themselves they have thrown into this.

One thing I noticed was that, in the beginning, Luna distributed a similar uniform to every troop nationwide to show a sense of unity, yet in the end, the division between Filipinos were still evident – this time through wearing hats. Aguinaldo’s soldiers had red-brimmed hats, while Luna’s had plain ones.

This is why my favorite quote is:

““Ganito ba talaga ang tadhana natin? Kalaban ng kalaban. Kalaban ng kakampi. Nakakapagod.”

It is so poetic, so true, even in today’s time. With issues like Church vs State, and Lumad vs AFP, the cancer of society still continues on today. Ganito na lang nga ba tayo?

Which is why I am really glad there was a 50% discount for all students. I believe that Jose Rizal’s belief that “nasa kabataan ang kinabukasan” rings true in this. I heard that they are planning to have a trilogy, with the next two focusing on Gregorio del Pilar and Manuel Quezon. Best of luck to the whole Heneral Luna crew. If you see this, you did a great job in, once again, igniting that spark inside us – the spark that may have burned Luna into ashes, but a spark that will nonetheless light our way.

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