Even before its scheduled theatrical release in cinemas on September 9th, the historical action epic Heneral Luna has earned rave reviews from local and foreign film critics, movie fans, students and Filipino-American communities in the U.S.
Produced by Artikulo Uno Productions and directed by Jerrold Tarog, the movie resonates with Filipino viewers, particularly in terms of evoking patriotism and rekindling a deeper appreciation for Philippine history, politics, and nationhood.
The biopic based on the life and times of the fierce General Luna, features John Arcilla in the title role. He is joined by a powerhouse cast of seasoned actors including Mon Confiado (as Emilio Aguinaldo), Epy Quizon (as Apolinario Mabini), Leo Martinez (as Pedro Paterno), Nonie Buencamino (as Felipe Buencamino), Bing Pimentel (as Doña Laureana Luna y Novicio), Mylene Dizon (as Isabel), Ketchup Eusebio (as Captain Pedro Janolino), Arron Villaflor (as Joven Hernando, a young journalist) and Paulo Avelino (as General Gregorio del Pilar).
Based on a script written seventeen years ago by E.A. Rocha and the late Henry Hunt Francia, Jerrold Tarog found the material and revised it for a contemporary audience. Set against the backdrop of the Philippine-American War, Heneral Luna dares to provoke strong reactions with its brutal depiction of history. The film asks some hard-hitting questsions: was General Luna a hero or a rogue? Why was he feared—not just by the soldiers of the revolutionary army—but also by certain elements in the newly formed and tenuous cabinet of President Emilio Aguinaldo? And was General Antonio Luna’s death the handiwork of an elaborate conspiracy?
Lead star John Arcilla, who played several other roles based on Philippine heroes during his theater days, exclaims “The issue here is bigger than the movie, and even bigger than General Luna himself!”
He continues: “In more ways than one, this is a timely wake-up call for all of us. It makes us question our Filipino psyche, and makes us ask why we, despite the hundred years or so that have transpired, haven’t really changed at all as a nation.”
Director Jerrold Tarog, who is actively involved in the movie’s nationwide school tour in partnership with Dakila, is constantly amazed at the keen interest of students in the film and its themes.
“For a filmmaker, there’s no better sense of fulfillment than to create that kind of impact with his audience, and I’m very happy that Heneral Luna has inspired a ‘cultural reawakening’ of sorts among today’s younger generations,” he says.
As an interesting sidelight, singer/songwriter Ebe Dancel wrote the theme song of Heneral Luna, titled “Hanggang Wala Nang Bukas.” The anthemic rock song is now playing on FM stations.
Himself a staunch advocate of patriotism, Ebe said, “I think there should be a little of General Luna in all of us. Let us not be afraid to stand up for the things we believe in.”
Living up to its commitment in glorifying our nation’s unsung heroes, Artikulo Uno Productions, along with HERO Foundation, mounted in an invite-only screening for the benefit of the HERO scholars. The organization, founded by retired former AFP Chief Renato de Villa, provides educational assistance to children of soldiers killed or incapacitated in the line of duty.
Heneral Luna opens in major theaters on September 9, 2015.
For more details, log-on to: www.henerallunathemovie.com.