The movie tells the life story of Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. A three-hour epic on the life and struggles of his poet and patriotisms. It covers his life fromhis childhood to his execution at the hands of the Spanish forces occupying thePhilippines in the late 19th century. We are also thrown into the world of Rizal’s novels (filmed in black and white), so we get a glimpse of how he viewed Filipino society under the Spanish heal. The film also through a series of flashback showing Rizal as a genius, a writer, a doctor, an artist, a lover, a friend, a brother and a son, thus giving a rich texture of Rizal’s character.
The movie introduces us to the life of subjugation of the Filipino people under the rule of the Spanish friars. From the execution of three Filipino priests in 1872 for alleged subversion to the harsh and unequal treatment of Filipino students in the schools, this film is a stinging indictment of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. I also commend the film for its bravery in showing the evil tyranny of the Catholic Church during that time. Considering that the Philippines is a Catholic nation that is like butchering a sacred cow but alas, Abaya works her magic in depicting the suffering of the Filipinos because of the friars.
This is by far the best Filipino movie that I have seen so far. I would urge anyone reading this who likes movies, to either rent it or buy it. I particularly love the last scene of the film when Rizal fell in the ground facing the sky, having his last breath looking at a beautiful sunrise- a metaphor depicting that Rizal did not die in vain. He did not die for nothing. He did not die defeated. Rather he died victorious because his death is the torch that lights Philippine independence, that ignites Philippine Revolution
One of the strengths of Jose Rizal is the incorporation of the characters of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo in the life of Rizal and of the Filipinos in general. This only shows that the two books are reflections of the lives of the Filipinos during the Spanish regime. But the thought and noble ideas of the book do not only live in the past but also in the present manifesting the universality and immortality of Rizal’s ideas. The beautiful transition of Rizal’s time and the setting of the two novels is really impressive.
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