Movie Review: Heneral Luna

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3 years ago

"Negosyo o Kalayaan? Bayan o Sarili? Pumili ka?!"

Heneral translates to General. The exact translation of the quote above is Business or Freedom? The nation or yourself? You choose?! This was also the movie tagline when it was released on September 9, 2015. I remember when I watched this movie 6 years ago, a few days after my birthday. It became an eye-opener for me on what truly happened in our history after the rule of the Spaniards for 3 centuries.

Emilio Aguinaldo's Cabinet

Set in 1898, 2 years after Dr. Jose Rizal's execution, war broke out between the Spaniards and the Filipinos. The Philippines was about to be independent from Spanish rule, but Spain sold the country to the U.S. for $20 million instead of surrendering to the Filipinos ending the Spanish colonization for 333 years.

Gen. Antonio Luna observes if there are any brave patriots to scare a U.S. Colonel.

This is the story of the titular character - Gen. Antonio Luna who fought bravely during the Filipino-American War, including key figures of our history, Emilio Aguinaldo - the 1st Filipino President, his Prime Minister Apolinario Mabini, Pedro Paterno, Felipe Buencamino, and Gen. Jose Alejandrino - Antonio's right hand.

"That train? Sequestered by the Americans, yes?"

Throughout the film, it will show other key players. Antonio's trusted officers, Col. Francisco Roman, Maj. Manuel Bernal, Capt. Eduardo Rusca, and Capt. Jose Bernal. The Kawit Battalion led by Gen. Tomas Mascardo, and Capt. Pedro Janolino as their commanding officer. Gen. Gregorio del Pilar and Lt. Manuel Quezon who would become the 2nd President under the Commonwealth Republic of the Philippines was also featured in the film. From the U.S., Gen. Arthur MacArthur Jr., Maj. Gen. Elwell Otis, and Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt.

U.S. Gen. Arthur MacArthur Jr. (left) & Maj. Gen. Elwell Otis (right)

The film tells us what truly happened after 1898, and shed a light on Antonio Luna's character. Some would say he's arrogant, a disciplinarian, and a hot temper that you would never mess with. Throughout the film, it shows Luna's true character since it was based on a book called The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna written by Dr. Vivencio R. Jose. It is given he was a disciplinarian because he wants to unify our fellowmen under one banner to fight against the foreign invaders. An expert swordsman & marksman, but it only focuses on his battles & achievements in the film. For his full biography, click/tap here to read more. Another insight is we Filipinos consider Aguinaldo as a hero, but this film shows his other side why most of his loyal officers only follow him instead of Antonio, who assassinated Aguinaldo's bright leader during the war, who are the pro-Americans & anti-Americans which is why it became an eye-opener.

Joven Hernando (left) interviews Gen. Antonio Luna (middle)

Originally, it was supposed to be a TV series in celebration of our 100th year of independence but failed to push through. E.A. Rocha and Henry Hunt Francia created the script, so they need to rewrite the script and turn it into a full-length feature film. The script was shelved for 12 years, so they decided to enlist some of the biggest names in the industry. The biggest challenge was the production since we are now in the modern world and only a few heritage sites left around the country. They studied everything, from outfits, trench warfare, life during the 1890s, and weapons used during that time. With its release, the film received positive reviews from our local critics & historians. From word of mouth and through social media, everyone around the nation watched it.

The Luna Brothers (Juan (middle) & Antonio (left)) with Dr. Jose Rizal (right)

Another interesting thing about this film is, this is an indie film. No wonder why this wasn't an entry for the Metro Manila Film Festival 2015 (one of our local film festivals in the Philippines), possibly it might outshine other films. It tells us the story of one man's vision to unite his fellow men against our new colonizers at that time, but other people want to break that vision because they were undisciplined, and with their self-interest under the influence of regionalism/provincialism. A great mix of action & history, although, it may have a few controversies like Mabini's condition wondering why is he seated throughout the film? Because our youth today instead of focusing their studies they would mostly spend their time around social media, even in video gaming. Aguinaldo's portrayal in the film. I'm not saying he's the villain, and he did everything with his power to make our nation be known around the world from its sovereignty, fought back against the Americans, and denies the allegations against him about the death of Antonio Luna. Lastly, Isabel. I still remember that Antonio Luna had a relationship after Nelly Bousted, it was Ysidra Cojuangco. Isabel was a fictional character and she's not part of our history. She was a combination of Luna's love interests making her character composite.

The film's tribute to Juna Luna's Spoilarium

Overall, the film is an epic masterpiece. If anyone is interested in Filipino History, then this is the one you should watch. Heneral Luna can now be streamed on Netflix, also available on TBA Studio's YouTube Page.

All images are from the movie Heneral Luna (including Lead Image).

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Comments

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