Sunday, November 03, 2019

Two films by Lino Brocka

Manila in the Claws of Light (1975, Philippines, Lino Brocka)
Insiang (1976, Philippines, Lino Brocka)

“The film is the same….It’s your eyes that have changed.”Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodóvar)

The above words from Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory came to my mind recently when I revisited two of Lino Brocka’s essential films. In Almodóvar’s film, the film director Salvador (Antonio Banderas) praises the acting of his lead Alberto (Asier Etxeandia) more than three decades after their movie Sabor came out. Back in the day, Salvador disliked Alberto’s performance in Sabor and stopped talking to him. When a local cinematheque plans to hold a screening of Sabor, Salvador decides to revisit the film and mentions that he appreciates Alberto’s performance and he feels it has gotten better. The above line is the response to Salvador because it is still the same film but Salvador’s life has changed and thereby his ability to critique his own film.

I had a similar reaction when I revisited Brocka’s films after more than a decade. I found my appreciation of these films has increased with time. They are still the same films albeit I saw them in a better print. It is in fact my eyes that have changed and I found it exciting to compare the newer Filipino movies with that of Brocka's and draw a line from his cinema to that of directors he has clearly influenced such as Lav Diaz and Brillante Mendoza. Back in the late 1970’s, Brocka put Philippine cinema on the map and Insiang was the first Philippine film to play at the Cannes Film Festival (1978).

Some reading material on these films:

1. Cinema Scope
2. Culture Trip
3. Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation
4. Criterion
5. Noel Vera, Insiang
6. Noel Vera, Manila in Claws of Light

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