An intimate epic made with uncompromising and austere seriousness that patiently and methodically observes the collapse and hopeful revival of a poor farming clan.
From Filipino auteur Lav Diaz, his greatest epic: 10 years in the making, exploring Philippine nationhood through a family’s expansive saga. Sourced from rare, at times rough materials, we’ll be debuting a new film each month.
Epic storytelling. Diaz builds his story piece by delicate piece. Sure, there are moments that could have been edited down quite a bit, but there's something about letting those silent moments slowly unwind that pulls you into the frame and thus into the world. Also, in these static shots, Diaz has a unique talent for putting his camera in great spots. Pretty strong compositions throughout. It's very captivating.
Where to even begin with this. Watching this was absolutely exhausting for me in both a physical and emotional way. Despite that I can easily say it's one of the best films I have ever seen. The incredible length of this film is never used as a gimmick, instead it's used to tell a story that really couldn't be effectively told any other way. Tragic yet beautiful in a way that is brutally human in nature.
Immersive; felt like watching a novel (in which context, the 10+ hours seems a perfectly reasonable length of time). A poor family's (people's) impotence in the face of wider social forces. Form, style, tone, embodying their understated determination. Persistence, futility, pathos, endurance, built up over the course of hours, to something inescapable, relatable, brutal. A remarkable work. Worth giving in to.
Well, everything is different now. Everything. I took three breaks (totaling about an hour) but I watched it basically in one sitting. I am walking on clouds. I feel like my cells have been altered. The evolution of a family, sure, but such a staggering encapsulation of national identity. My God! I've never experienced anything comparable (and this is my third Lav Diaz). I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I JUST EXPERIENCED!
I didn't think I was gonna like it much, even at three hours in. And at seven hours when I was definitely into it, I did not anticipate I would like it anywhere near as much as I did at the end. Operated in ways no other movie I've seen has. Each shot worked like space in a drawing, where time was flattened out and still and endless—and endlessly present. Somebody somewhere called it an "intimate epic"—so right!
The work of Lav Diaz is exceptionial. In the beginning the slowness of his narration may be unusual, but if you get accustomed with this tempo the act of watching becomes a kind of addiction and you don't realize how the time passes by.