THE SUNNY PHILOSOPHER by Salvador D. Flor, Ph.D. | Beautiful but unreal world

In Four Values in Filipino Drama and Film, author Nicanor G. Tiongson, said that movies could give moviegoers a means of escape from a harsh world. He probably had in mind destitute people who would not think twice parting with their last peso to see a movie.

Written years ago, the message still rings true today. Movies with abundance of barilan, patayan, suntokan, tawanan are earning millions for producers, are keeping the cash register ringing. The ingredients have made movies addicting.

Inside the cavernous hall, moviegoers enjoy living in a vastly different world outside the cinema. There, they do not go hungry, do not suffer exploitation, do not experience cruelty. Outside, their lives are nightmarish.

Movies, including Philippine-produced, are skillfully crafted to inveigle people into living the life of the beautiful leading men and women, to relish in their triumphs, to shed tears in their defeats.

Captive moviegoers willingly allows producers to pick their (moviegoers) pockets for a couple of hours in a make-believe world. Never mind if a child is sick and needs a doctor. She can wait.

Movies can tickle the ribs and rouse them to laughter or tug at their hearts and make them cry rivers or movies that show human blood drenching the earth, are their favorite fares.

Sulit na sulit, they would say.

Sadly, however, most Filipino moviegoers are not after the quality of the film. Nora Aunor’s skillful portrayal of a Muslim girl had earned for the film international acclaim but did not bring the expected monetary windfall in the country.

There are movies that have all the elements of a great film.

Heneral Luna, a film by Jerold Tarog, about the life of a firebrand General Antonio Luna, is one. John Arcilla who played the lead role, is convincing in his portrayal of the Filipino hero. He brought me back to year 1989 and the period that followed.

What had touched me deeply was when his aged mother entered his room and noticing the weariness in his eyes, asked if he could still sleep.

The war was raging and Filipino forces under his command were on the retreat.

His mother brought out a wooden stool, asked him to take a seat and close his eyes as she recalled the days when he was a young boy, when his father was alive, his family intact and the rumblings of war were far away. From somewhere, a music was playing.

The mother and son took a walk and finally, the mother said to his son, “take care of yourself.” At that very moment, his enemies in the Aguinaldo camp were plotting his ouster.

Not long after, he was murdered.

In Spartacus movie, the final scene showed Spartacus, a former slave turned rebel leader, hanging on the cross along a stony road, life ebbing. A young woman with a baby in her arms approached.

At the foot of the cross, she stopped and called out to him to take a look at his son.

“I will tell him about you when he grows up,” she tearfully said. The baby was Spartacus’ son by the woman.

Then the woman’s companion led her to a wooden cart that would take her away from Rome. Spartacus followed them with his eyes.

In the movie, Casablanca, set in Europe during WWII, a beautiful woman, played by Ingrid Bergman, pleaded with the saloon crooner to sing, As Time Goes By. But he refused, saying that his manager played by Humphrey Bogart had forbidden him to even hum the song.

The reason was that his boss could not stand the song which would remind him of an unfaithful girl.

Earlier, the woman vowed to marry him. They were sweethearts. But at the last minute, she backed out. She did not show up at the train station, their meeting place.

While she was talking with the crooner, the boss arrived. The latter could not believe his eyes. Here was the woman who had dumped him. She introduced her male companion as her husband who had escaped from a German prison.

He was the reason why she backed out.

Great movies can make you forget whatever ills you have. But such movies are far from real.