Mga Bilanggong Birhen (The Captured Virgins, 1977)

From pinoydvd:   keating: Noel was Alma not wasted on MGA BILANGGONG BIRHEN, is it really good?

Sounds like Peter Weir's PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK......the movie I mean.

Heck no; it has no pretenses, unlike Weir's overblown 'experimental' film.

Alma has a small part; she's effective enough. The real protagonists are Mario Montenegro, Leroy Salvador, and, believe it or not, Armida Siguion-Reyna, who is wonderful and, believe it or not, quite beautiful in it--I mean, she practically glows. Grin

It's beautifully shot (one of Romy Vitug's best works), extravagantly produced, and quite lyrical. And it looks with equal measures of sympathy and skepticism at both upper and lower classes, unlike Oro, Plata, which tended to demonize the lower classes.

Sure, you got Ronnie Lazaro, but he feels more like a mythical figure (his name is Hermes, right?) than a real person. In Bilanggong Birhen, you feel the full weight, nobility, and flaws of all the characters, upper and lower classes.

O'Hara disowns it; he was fired near the end of shooting, and he walked away. Romy Suzara finished postroduction, and it shows: the editing is off by about a mile (every O'Hara film has precise editing--every one of them). Flawed, heavily, but still, it's great, great, great.

Nick Deocampo once said Raymond Red was around the age of O'Hara when he directed Sakay (Red was 28; O'Hara 31), which is roughly the same time period (American Occupation), tho O'Hara's production was far more elaborate. Deocampo thought O'Hara did a far better job than Red ever did.   keating: So BILANGGONG BIRHEN was also a period epic, Noel? And Armida I think she's beautiful also when she's not singing.? Grin

I'm now curious to see it. Thanks for all the info about the movie. But then Mario O' Hara shot the film 90% right? Why he disowns it?

Mario disowns it because he didn't edit it. Editing is perhaps the most unique stage in filmmaking--there's nothing like it in the other arts. Kubrick goes so far as to say he sometimes thinks he shoots films in order to have something to edit.

Editing marks a film as surely as camera moves or overall emotional tonemarks many a master filmmaker. Some of the greatest filmmakers--Kurosawa, Fellini, Griffith, Ford, O'Hara, De Leon (Mike and Gerry both), Ad Castillo--show a mastery of editing. It's not a matter of quick cuts; sometimes knowing when to sustain a shot is as important, or more so, and sometimes editing an ordinary dialogue scene is more difficult than editing an action scene (which is why Michael Bay is so recognizably not a master? Grin).

Peque I'd say knows how to edit, on the basis of the final shootout in Oro. I just think he needs a better scriptwriter, or a film that doesn't need a strong script (which is why I think Scorpio Nights is the far better film).

I like to say I know if a filmmaker knows what he's doing during when I see how the first five minutes of the film is cut. I usually get it right (or if not right, I at least know the filmmaker has some skill).

O'Hara did not edit Mga Bilanggong Birhen. It's not totally his film, but there are many things in it that are recognizably his--the tone, the shots, the performances.

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