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Miracle (Himala)

Himala image
Wednesday, 10 November 2011 @6:30pm
Philippines, 1982 (123 mins)
Tagalog with English and Japanese subtitles

Dir: Ishmael Bernal
Screenplay: Ricardo Lee
Cast: Nora Aunor, Veronica Palileo, Spanky Manikan, Gigi Dueñas, Vangie Labalan, Laura Centano, Joel Lamangan

Considered by many to be one of the greatest films in Philippine cinema history, frame for frame, HIMALA may also be the most beautifully shot Philippine film I’ve ever seen. With a photographer’s eye, director Ishmael Bernal (City After Dark, Relasyon) turns an arid, non-descript countryside Philippine town into a mystical place with real people. The Superstar of Philippine Cinema, Nora Aunor, playing the lead role, works with the visual setting as much as it works with her. She’s the ever-sad Elsa, an illegitimate child who one day claims, like many of us Filipinos like to do, to have seen the Virgin Mary, who has endowed her with super healing powers. A battle between her and a doubtful, sometimes vengeful, Catholic church ensues, and she starts winning. Throngs of peasant folk travel from afar to get their miracle on, and the once-filled church dwindles to a measly ten people. Is she real, or is it a hoax? For a suffering people short on hope in the faith they were given, and seeking it elsewhere, anywhere – does it even matter? Acting with just her eyes for most of the film, Aunor is mesmerizing. HIMALA makes a potent, poignant statement on Filipinos’ faith, making a subtle connection between the colonial legacy of the church and the suffering that drives us toward and away from it. -Prometheus Brown

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Distributor: Kabayan Central -