March 20th, 2006

Rahomon by Akira Kurosawa

Personally, I don’t appreciate films which reiterate many versions of a single event. I am not a fan of this film because I don’t like the idea of comparing and contrasting numerous flashbacks. A viewer can get easily lost in the story and lose interest on the film. I believe that to truly appreciate this film, the viewer should watch it several times. Aside from the fact that it had sub-titles which kept me from paying complete attention in the movie, it was also shot entirely black and white. The film, I found not visually appealing at all. The location of the film was in the mountain. Although there was beauty in the scenery, it was not emphasized with the camera angles. It mostly had close up shots of the characters to emphasize the emotional parts. As a result, I don’t like the movie. I did not know which character told the truth in the end. The only interesting thing that I got from it was the funny bandit. So far, from the Kurosawa films that I have seen, i strongly believe that this is not his best work. What i can conclude from this is that I have seen a certain joker pattern in the last three Kurosawa films. In my opinion, he does this so that the audience will see the lighter side of things through the character’s humor.
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    confused confused

The Usual Suspects

The movie was composed of flashbacks but it is not as confusing as Rashomon. The flashbacks came only from one person, Verbal, played by Kevin Spacey. The movie was very violent. Just like any action film, they made use of several high tech effects such as explosions. Nothing spectacular in the film but Kevin Spacey’s acting and the brutal tactics that were presented in the movie. The asset of the film was its unique, bold storyline and unpredictable ending.
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    CSI theme

The Modern Times

The movie was directed, produced and starred by Charlie Chaplin. It was shot in the United States during the great depression. The movie was hilarious, Charlie Chaplin’s acting was brilliant. The movie revolved around Charlie Chaplin’s character who always ends up having bad luck in most of the things that he did. Even if it was shot entirely in black and white and hardly had any dialogue, viewers are still drawn to it. It felt like watching cartoons in some parts. I think actual animation was done such as in the part where Charlie Chaplin’s character got caught up in the screws inside the factory machine. The captions were helpful in understanding the scenes in the film. It was short and simple but did a lot. The production itself is not amateur. It was filmed in numerous locations and had attractive costumes. I thought that there was more to the film than entertainment. I thought that it had a message of having hope in desperate times. Charlie Chaplin’s character reflected a common American in the time of the great depression. His character struggled a lot financially and socially because of the economic situation. This film is substantial in portraying the struggles of Americans in that era. The actors did a great job because I was able to understand the story even if they hardly used any dialogue. The characters were shot from afar. This was to emphasize the humor in the scene. Watching this movie again will definitely not be a problem for me.
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    charlie chaplin theme song

Battleship Potemkin

This movie has to be the most challenging film that I have ever watched. Not only is it a silent film shot entirely in black and white, it also had sub-titles. The movie is very old as a result, although the film was from a DVD, the quality of the film seemed as if it was it was burning to a crisp as it was being shown. For a modern day viewer, this movie was just painful to watch. Deciphering the movie’s message was even more complicated. The movie was presented like snapshots. There were numerous cuts. Intellectual montage was applied with its editing. There was an instability effect given with that style of editing in cuts. There were also a lot of close-ups which emphasized the dramatic scenes and the angst of the rebellious sailors. I had to watch the film several times and pay attention to details. The movie revolved around abusive officers, uprisings and chaotic environments. I guess that the message of the film was that during that period of Russia in the early twentieth century, the people worked hard but when pushed, they will revolt in order to change the political system.
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    Gregorian chant

Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros

The film had a unique storyline. At first, I expected it to be purely about homosexuality. I was wrong, the film tackled issues about Filipino family and society. The story focused on the Oliveros family. It showed the love and support that they had for one another, especially for their brother and son, Maximo. He is the youngest of three brothers and happens to be pre-teen homosexual. The matriarch in the Oliveros family has passed away. The film revolved around the slums of Sampaloc. It revealed the different sides of a poverty-stricken society. It showed the positive and negative characteristics of the police in Manila. It also showed scenes which depicted violence and are evident in all areas of the city. I think this is very important since it reflects the reality. It gave light to all the negative things that are happening on a narrower setting. The actors are good and suitable since they are not your typical good-looking actors. The gestures and speech of Ping Medina, who played one of Maximo’s brothers successfully reflected his character. Although I think Nathan Lopez who played Maximo was not very convincing in playing a gay pre-teen since he is not such in real life. Since the film was shot entirely on digital film, on the slums and containted scenes with minimal lighting, I found it challenging to watch the film. The movie is not visually stimulating. I guess this unpolished approach of the film went hand in hand with emphasizing the underprivileged society.
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    boy george-karma chameleon

Just Like Heaven

The movie is starred by Reese Witherspoon whom I thought suited the role very well. Mark Ruffalo also starred in the film who I thought was not suitable. His rugged look was not suitable for the storyline. I thought that a dashing debonair actor would fit his role as a successful grieving widower. The movie was very pleasing to watch. The whole look of the film was incredible. The cinematography played with vibrant colors which made the viewers interested and drawn to the film. The storyline for me was simple and entertaining. It had a variety of interesting twists but generally can quite be predictable. The movie teaches a valuable lesson of living life to the fullest before it’s too late. It also had a very happy ending which made the viewers appreciate the film up to the very end.
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    Sarah Mclachlan-angel

Tsinelas at Lata

This movie was short and meaningful. At the first part, the camera was shaky. I think that this was done to emphasize how active the young boy was. Two thirds of the movie, he was enthusiastically running and kicking a can around. The location was in the slum area of Manila, possibly in Payatas or an area near a dump site. It was fast paced and had minimal cuts. The highlight of the film was shown towards the end when they showed that the boy only had one leg. The ending was he scored a goal with the can, defeating the chubby kid standing on top of the pile of trash. The message of the film for me is that, even if you are surrounded by poverty, disabled and living a tough life, you can still have victory if you have enthusiasm in whatever you do. Like the boy, happiness can be attained by being positive.I liked the film very much because it's direct and had a hopeful vibe to it.
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    Queen-we are the champions

Tree in Tamping Maling

I like this long, slow-paced and meaningful Malaysian film. I did not mind it being so slow because I thought it reflected reality and dealt with the concept of waiting. I found the film entertaining although it did not have the typical approach of commercialized films where in they would constantly present the viewers with actions and conversations that signified something. The movie revolved around a boy and a girl who are friends. I liked that they did not put anything romantic in the scenes and excluded the theme of love but instead focused on the two’s friendship. Their conversation was casual. They talked about ordinary things like school, music, books, relationships etc. The part I did not like was when they suddenly broke into song. I thought it was corny and unnecessary. Never the less, I liked that it did not try hard to be shocking and unusual in order to convey its message. In spite of my impatience in watching, I appreciated the film because the script was well written. There was a lot of poetry involved in the script which I thought was interesting. I think the message of the film’s structure being slow-paced is that we should appreciate things in impatient situations. The two friends also gave a lesson that we should accept each other for who we are. We should find beauty in unfortunate situations just as the girl finds beauty in the tree even if she did not get to her destination.
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    Updharma Pag-agos


The movie starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Sean Connery and Jake Gyllenhaal. The movie revolved around the struggles that Gwyneth went through with her dad, Sean Connery. He was a math genius. Eventually, he became a nutcase and his daughter was afraid she would inherit this trait of her father. The movie was a drama, most of the shots were close-up. The film was shot during winter season. In the heavy emotional parts of the film, I thought the snow added to the gloominess of the scenes. Everyone in the cast wore dark shades of clothing except for Gwyneth’s sister who was the cheerful one in the family. The movie revolved around the conversations Gwyneth had with his father. There were a lot of flashback scenes. It was confusing because Gwyneth looked the same in her flashbacks of five years ago and her present-day self. As a result, the lack of variation in Gwyneth’s look left the viewers confused with the storyline. I think the message of the film is to love and take care of one’s parents and learn how to trust others.
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Seven Samurai

At first, I expected seven samurai to be just like Rashomon. I was wrong. For me, it was a hundred times better. Even if the move was long, every scene in the film played a significant part. The subtitles of course again hindered me in understanding an appreciating the film. The actors in the film did a great job with their roles. The samurais were successful in depicting power and strength in their persona. The farmers on the other hand, did a convincing job in showing how weak and helpless they were. The fight scenes were very long and brutal. I believe that the message of the film is that not everyone can get what they want. The ending left me a feeling of mixed emotions. I did not know what to feel since I was torn between feeling for the dead samurais and being happy for the farmers since they have defeated the bandits.
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    impressed impressed

Citizen Kane

Watching this film again is not going to be a problem. The grand production was very appealing and would leave the viewers wanting more. The film was made in the year 1941 and was shot entirely in black and white. The main character of the movie, John Foster Kane who was played by Orson Welles did a brilliant job in his acting. He won the viewers over with his charisma. I like the message that the film bought. In my opinion, it was that one should not be deprived of living a happy life with his/her family. The movie was also successful in giving the message that love is worth more than power and wealth. I love the fact that throughout the film, the viewers were trying to find what the motif, Rosebud is. It kept me interested. I also loved the fabulous production design and appealing costumes. I believe a significant asset of the movie is the make-up of Kane. I believe they did not use a double for Kane’s twenty-five year old role and when he was elderly and dying. The character’s physical condition was unbelievably authentic that it made it look like Orson Welles’ senior citizen self was transported back in time to play the elderly Kane. The movie is brilliant!
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    Star Spangled banner

In the mood for love

I liked this film because of its cinematography. If you would compare it with hero, both film had vibrant colors. Only in the mood for love was a different because its cinematography was simple. It manipulated the colors of their costumes, walls and objects. It did not use high tech computer effects. They also played around with the camera angles and shots. The film focuses on space for a number of seconds, which I believe it gives the film a mysterious effect. The storyline, which revolves around infidelity was typical. What made it unique was the way it was presented. They never showed the faces of the concubines. The ending was very unpredictable. In my opinion, it did not bring closure to the film. Never the less, it was a good film. Both of the characters were uptight throughout the film which I thought bought in even more mystery.
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    day dream cycle-roses and cadillacs

Brokeback Mountain

I am a big fan of this film. It was in chronological order which made it easy to understand. Watching it was pleasurable especially in the first part where breathtaking scenes of the mountain was shown. This made the viewers very drawn to the scenery. The theme of homosexuality which the film tackled was very controversial. There was a single sexual scene between the two stars, Jake Gylenhaal and Heath Ledger. I believe that it was necessary for the film. The production design elements were not manipulated in such a way that the scene would have a romantic effect rather, the scene’s purpose was to show how their relationship developed. Of course, the story line was one of a kind. I believe that upon watching the movie, one should not focus on immorality. Instead, the viewers should just appreciate Brokeback's themes. I guess themes such as discrimination, relationships, unrequited and forbidden love can be highly regarded in this film. I think that this movie appealed to the audience on an emotional level. The two main characters were successful in getting into the role of homosexual cowboys, which I believe is complex and challenging. I believe there were a lot of close up shots which emphasized the dramatic scenes. In the end, I was touched by the film.
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This film which is directed by Quentin Tarantino is not for the faint of heart. The movie is about two American college boys who back pack traveled to Europe. You could have imagined the reasons why they eagerly roamed the streets of Amsterdam. These pleasure seeking teenagers only wanted to experience everything before they enter into a life of responsibility. Little did they know, the referral they got to venture the enigmatic country of Bratislava would lead them to discover high forms of brutality. Being a Quentin Tarantino film, I expected it to be graphic from start to end. This movie is an exemption. The first half of it showed the beauty of Europe while its second half presented how different forms of human torture can be done. The brutality would be ranged in the level of the medieval times. The lead actor, Jay Hernandez was successful in his role. I think the scene where he was plead for his life when he was about to be sliced with a chain saw was brilliant. In that shot, they used very minimal lighting which I thought was necessary to bring out brutality. The movie was composed of numerous long shots especially when they emphasized Europe’s beauty. It had a good ending because Jay Hernandez had revenge and it had closure.
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Ran by Akira Kurosawa

Considered one of the finest works in Japanese cinema, Akira Kurosawa’s Ran is a must-see film. Created in 1985, it has won an Oscar for best set-decoration and nominated for best cinematography, director and costume design. Its director and writer, Akira Kurosawa was a septuagenarian when he made Ran, which was his twenty-seventh film. This epic is one of the most expensive Japanese films ever made amounting to twelve million dollars. It is about a wealthy feudal Lord named Hidetora Ichimonji, who gained his wealth by conquering lands and castles. The story revolved around him and his three sons. The movie is about the chaos that followed after he banished his son and loyal servant, who only spoke the truth. Eventually, his other sons who inherited his wealth banished him because they did not want to deal with him and his rowdy troops. As a result, he went insane and wandered with his entertainer, Kyoami. In the end, he was saved by his loving son and loyal servant from madness. Still, it ended tragically because once they have reconciled both of them died at once. The film is patterned after William Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear. The characteristics of the movie was made in such a way that it would compliment western literature’s greatest tragedies ever told. The key elements of Ran which are script, cinematography, production design, editing and acting are all manipulated in accordance to the major themes of King Lear which are brutality, betrayal, greed, power, family ties and reconciliation.

Ran, meaning chaos in Japanese gave justice to its title as it showed ruthless events that occurred after Lord Hidetora Ichemonji (King Lear’s counterpart in Ran) made a bad decision of banishing the people who truly loved him. The cinematography of the film, Ran was greatly manipulated in order to be in accordance with the themes of King Lear. The use of colors in the film was very essential and is one of the most admired aspect of the film. I believe that the vibrant colors played a major role in differentiating the personalities of each character. The movie gave meaning to each of the colors. In each color, there are different themes representing it. Taro, the eldest of brother, would always wear yellow along with his soldiers. The middle son is Jiro, who together with his troops would only wear red with their armors. In the movie, the power hungry brothers who represented Goneril and Reagan in the film were color coded to represent the elements of King Lear which are brutality and greed. They are the antagonists in the film and their colors represented evil and betrayal. On the other hand, Saburo, who was Hidetora’s youngest son and Ran’s counterpart for King Lear’s Cordelia, wore blue in his armor along with his soldiers. This represented good intentions, loyalty and goodness of heart. In terms of the manipulation of color, it was not only limited to the character’s clothing. The movie also manipulated color with the use of scenery. The color techniques helped get the desired mood of the film. It was applied in the very beginning where there was a clear blue sky, white clouds and green pastures. The scenery also had good weather, which meant there was still stability and in their case, a united Ichemonji family. Sudden turn of events can be observed and different elements emphasized when the sky suddenly turned hellish red and a rocky cliff was shown. This scene was showed in the final part of the movie. The reddish effect represented Tsurumaru’s brutal experience in the film and how depressed he was feeling. Weather was also used in order to portray the mood of the characters. The winds were very strong and the sky was mostly dark in the duration where Hidetora had gone mad. This represented his thoughts in emotions in the story which are the feelings of betrayal, confusion and madness because of the brutality of his two sons. Most of the fight scenes had fire and smoke surrounding the castles which emphasized how destructive and tragic the war was. Bloody and ruthless battle scenes were successful in highlighting King Lear’s brutality theme. In terms of camera movement, it varied in each scene. For the peaceful scenes, which were the events before the disunity of the family happened, there was very minimal camera movement. The message this shows is that everything is going smoothly for everyone and there is stability in the kingdom. In relation to King Lear, its theme, family unity is shown. These scenes consist of the beginning part, when Hidetora was still powerful and when he reconciled with Saburo. In contrast to peaceful times, when it is a time of betrayal and brutality, it is evident that there are more camera movements. This shows the chaos and confusion that is happening in the Hidetora’s kingdom in the battle scenes.

An extremely significant element in Ran, which played an important role in showing the themes of King Lear is the script. There are many significant lines that gave the message of family unity and one’s tolerance when it comes to the brutality in life. The theme of family unity was greatly shown in the earlier parts of the film where Hidetora wanted to show his sons the importance of their family unity through the use of sticks. He explained to his sons that breaking a stick is easy but breaking three sticks was hard. He used this metaphor to give importance to the unity of their family, which is a key element of King Lear’s tragedy. Another key scene was when Kyoami, who is Fool’s counterpart in Ran, was complaining about the the death of Saburo (counterpart of Cordelia) and Hidetora. He said to himself that, “Are they so bored in Heaven that they enjoy watching men die like worms? Is it so amusing to see and hear human beings cry and scream?" Tango, who is the counterpart of Kent in Ran answered him saying, "They are the ones who are crying! The evil of human beings and the stupidity of the sinful creatures, who believe their survival depends on killing others, repeated again and again throughout all time. Human beings seek sorrow, not happiness, and prefer suffering to peace." In this line of the film, he explains why tragic things happen to people. He claims that it is through the people’s own bad deeds that they are suffering. Their suffering should not be blamed on the god. These lines help us understand King Lear’s theme regarding brutality, destiny and what one chooses to become. It implies that a person controls his/her own destiny. The brutality that is happening in one’s life is occurring because this is a result of how one has treated others in the past and in the present. One’s fate does not depend on astrology or birth right, it is controlled by one’s own actions.

The intricacies of the editing in Ran proved that this simple task may also play a significant part in showing the themes of a movie. The editing made use of a lot of jump cuts, which are very fast-paced changing of scenes. This technique is usually shown in the war scenes of the film. This gives an effect of even more instability in brutality. Example, in the brutal battle scenes, they would rapidly show different images of different kinds of murdered people. They constantly flipped through different images of soldiers hanging from bridges, beheaded, struck by an arrow or burnt. On contrast to the chaotic scenes, when it comes to the peaceful scenes, which included the start of the movie, which had the family united and when there was already reconciliation between Saburo and Hidetora, the shots were long. It had minimal cuts to show the effect of peace and stability when there is family unity and reconciliation that is occurring.

Along with the other elements, the production design is also an indispensable element in Ran’s adaptation of King Lear. It emphasized the power and root of greed of the characters. King Lear’s prominent theme which is greed for power and wealth is reflected with the exquisite set design. The locations of the movie were in breathtaking sceneries and large castles. I believe that they used these beautiful settings to show the power that Hidetora had over those places which he once had and passed on to his sons. The beauty and wealth of Hidetora’s kingdom that is craved by the greedy brothers, Taro and Jiro were emphasized in the settings of the film. In the end, they had settings in desserts and ugly places like shacks where Hidetora and Kyoami (Fool’s counterpart) wandered to emphasize Hidetora’s madness and downfall. When Hidetora lost all his wealth and when he was banished by his two sons, the set of the movie would also show this unfortunate side of Hidetora.

In terms of acting, they were very successful in portraying the strong emotions of each character in the film. The camera would shoot most of the characters, especially when they are saying emotional lines from afar and not up close in contrast to most dramas. I believe this is done because the actors were successful enough to show the gestures of their emotions from afar so effectively, that the camera needs not to shoot them closer. The most notable performance in the film, which I believe is Tatsuya Nakadai’s who played Hidetora, was extremely essential to show King Lear’s themes. The transition of his gestures from when he had a united family, to when he was betrayed was evident. His performance as a madman was brilliant. One can really see the great change in his facial aura and body gestures from when he was powerful until he went insane. Another important theme in King Lear which is stressed out in the end, is reconciliation. Tatsuya Nakadai had an excellent performance in reconciling with Saburu in the end. One can really see the father’s sincerity of regret in the end scene, before they both died.

In conclusion, the elements mentioned are all essential in the movie, Ran to help the viewers understand the major themes of King Lear which are brutality, betrayal, greed, power, family ties and reconciliation. The eastern movie gave justice to the western tragedy. It incorporated some feudal Japanese characteristics to it, but still managed to emphasize all the key themes of the story. The movie Ran was successful in bringing Shakespeare’s tragedy to life. The main events of King Lear were successfully made into a cinematic visual. The movie portrays the themes by manipulating each aspect of the film especially in script, cinematography, editing, production design and acting. The result is an exquisite film which is considered as one of the best eastern films of all time, which continues to influence the film making industry up to the present time.
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Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino

Last March 4, 2006, some students of University of Asia and the Pacific were fortunate enough to view a film that is considered one of the best films in Philippine cinema. The film is about the experiences of a poor family in the province during the Marcos regime. The main character, Reynaldo, was adopted by Hilda who was psychotic. Hilda’s character was tragically raped and killed by drunkards who were living in their town. Reynaldo’s depression leads him to kill his mother’s murderers. Eventually, he ran away to Manila and was offered shelter by a family. He then abandoned this family and moved to the mountains. He was adopted by a family of miners. Aside from the main character, Reynaldo, the movie also tackles the family he left behind. His aunts, uncle and grandmother also had issues. Throughout the film, Reynaldo’s family struggles socially and politically. The elements of the film, Ebolusyon did a good job in bringing out the message of the film. In my opinion, the message of the film is that we should not be fooled by the appearance of a peaceful province because people who live here also deals with a lot of serious issues that should not be ignored.

The elements of the film were manipulated in such a way that each emotion of the characters and the theme of the film would be emphasized. The director of the film, Lav Diaz was successful in showing what really goes on in provinces of the Philippines. He made use of very long shots of sceneries. As I was watching the film, the long shots made me feel impatient. I guess the director wanted the audience to understand how slow-paced life in the province is. In spite of my impatience, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the sceneries of the province. I think he wanted to make the shots long to give out those two messages. Unlike most films, where they would never consider including scenes that show stillness, the viewers would overlook the beauty of the scenery. The viewers would not appreciate the sceneries as much if the shots were shorter.

The spectators of the movie still managed to appreciate the beauty of the province in the film even if it was shot entirely in black and white and hardly had any effects. I have to admit that not everything is pleasing to the eye. There are a lot of scenes especially in the beginning, which are pitch black. I don’t know if this was so because of technicality in the video or if it was just made that way. If it was made as so, I guess it was put there to contribute to the idea that their province is underdeveloped and lack electricity. This may also to symbolize that they lived in the dark times of the Marcos regime.

The acting of the film was very effective in representing how people in the rural areas of the Philippines lived. The cast of the film includes Philippine cinema’s finest such as Joel Torre as Mayor, Pen Medina as Kadyo and Angie Ferro as Puring. I think that the actors were able to represent their characters well. I thought that their gestures were also well-suited for the role. I think the best moments in terms of acting were with Marya, the blind mother of three. It was the dramatic scene when she found out that her son, Carlos was missing. It is very hard to have a blind person as a role, but still she was successful in portraying a blind person that had a strong personality. Another would be when Kadyo, played by Pen Medina had a dying scene. I thought that his acting when he got stabbed and it took so long for him to die, was brilliant. I think it could be considered as one of the best death scenes in Philippine cinema. In my opinion, Kadyo in that moment represented the suffering and abuse of the oppressed during the Marcos regime.

Ebolusyon’s script is very minimal. I would say that the dialogue in the film would only total to about less than a third of the whole duration of the film. Even if there were only minimal dialogues, not all dialogues that the actors had were meaningful. I guess this gave us an overview of what people living in the rural areas are. The dialogues varied from casual talks to emotional exchanges of words. The dialogue in the film was a roller coaster rides of emotions. The characters’ dialogues contains a lot of pauses but in the next part of the scene, you will find them cussing at each other. I think this is evident with the characters of the three sisters, Juliana, Martina and Huling. Most of the time, they are soft spoken and reserved but when it comes to their troubles socially, they would burst out their grudges to each other and see a very different side of them.

In terms of production design, the element was successful in portraying the level of poverty and underdevelopment that the characters were in. In spite of the not so glamorous bahay-kubo that the Gallardo family lived in, beauty can still be seen in the sceneries of the province. I thought that the production design was successful in depicting their level in society but was not that believable when it came to the era that they live in. I think it is evident that even if the story line of the movie was based in the seventies and eighties decades, it was not clearly reflected in the production design. If it wasn’t for the dialogues that were anti-Marcos and documentaries, it could have passed as a storyline that is in the time frame of the nineties decade. I think that details such as hairstyle, costume, and household of the characters should not be overlooked. It should also be included in the representation of the time frame of the story.

In conclusion, the elements of the film were successful in emphasizing the themes of Ebolusyon. Though the plot of the film could have been presented in less than four hours, I think that the film’s message would not have been successfully conveyed if it was shown in that duration. I think that the film was successful in showing the side of the rural living Filipinos. I believe that these brutal things really do happen. I have met people who have lived in these areas. They have the scars to prove that they have experience that level of brutality in work, hardship in family and complex political system. Through this movie, more people were made aware of these unfortunate events that really exist in provinces.

The fact that it focused solely on the family’s issues and excluded factors which are commonly used in commercial cinema such as melodrama and action, made it more realistic. The eleven hour duration of the film was definitely a challenge. Still, I have to say that watching this film is a unique experience and I don’t regret it. If a viewer is looking for entertainment, this film will not provide him/her with it. What this film offers is a view of the truth in the Marcos regime and the beauty of its cinematography.