The Philippines, 1972. Mysterious things are happening in a remote barrio. Wails are heard from the forest, cows are hacked to death, a man is found bleeding to death at the crossroad and houses are burned.
Lav’s Golden Leopard winner in Locarno is an epic remembrance of a period of transition that marked the traumatic time of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ rule. The film’s structure unfurls with slow power, growing increasingly complex, political, and emotional over its five-and-a-half hour story.
The black and white photography is marvellous. Also the incredible slowness of the movie and the work with simple sounds: Staring at landscapes for several minutes, listening to the wind, the rain and the rustle of grass and watching how somebody very slowy shows up and comes to the foreground, or seeing a hut burning and listening to the cracking noises of the burning wood can change our ways of perception.
A modern masterpiece, I thought Melancholia was very good but this just breaks straight past that and into a different realm. A beautiful, poetic and compassionate and sorrowful look at the pain the Filipino nation have endured throughout the 20th Century and scars that has created on the country. Some of the closing scenes are almost too much to handle, emotionally speaking. Extremely stirring and haunting. 5/5
This is a gorgeously-shot meditation on life in the Philippines. I love the way Lav Diaz uses the camera in the cinema of attractions tradition. Actors often move in and out of the still frame—an effort by the crew to not only subtly acknowledge the filmmaking process, but also emphasize the omnipresence of the natural world. The sound design is exceptional and enthralling.
This film needs to be seen in its entirety to be fully understood, appreciated, felt. I am sorry that some viewers turned it off after the first 10 or 20 minutes, disturbed or bored by the meditative pace/style. Ultimately, it is a very monumental film, with a hugely important and rich story to tell. My 3rd Lav Diaz, all of them were 5 to 6 hours each, all great. Best seen in a theater if possible.