I was browsing through my social media feeds this morning and saw that there are some who criticized that the film “Heneral Luna”.
They all agree that it’s a beautiful film. They’re just feel like we shouldn’t be celebrating a film shows a man who really shouldn’t be considered a hero. Heneral Luna was selfish, bad tempered, an elitist, and a little crazy. He and his brother weren’t called LUNATICS for nothing. If you read the historical notes, you’ll see that those brothers are batsh*t insane.
And I totally agree. There’s no denying that when you watch the movie, you’ll see that Antonio Luna is a jerk. He can be mean and cruel. He can be selfish and his temper is legendary. It was painful to watch him being betrayed by his own soldiers. But on some level I can empathize because throughout the movie, Luna was a d#%k.
In short, Heneral Luna is flawed as f*&k.
But then again, who isn’t it.
If you look at the roster of Philippine heroes in the Spanish, American and Japanese occupation. You won’t find any saints. In fact, it actually looks more like a gallery of rogues.
Rizal is a prime example. Some people believe that he is, literally, the 2nd coming of Christ. But we have enough historical documents that show Rizal wasn’t really exactly perfect. We know for a fact that he didn’t really respect the “bro code” when it comes to women. He was a notorious womanizer and liked to get wasted, a lot; much like a college fratboy.
But almost every year we have a new movie about Rizal.
I’ve seen the movie (Heneral Luna) and I enjoyed watching it immensely. I’m not a film critic but I can honestly say it’s one of the few Filipino films around right now that’s worth more than the price of admission. Plus popcorn and drinks because the movie is THAT entertaining.
I also see the point the filmmakers were trying to make by creating a movie about Antonio Luna instead of the ‘sainted’ Rizal: there are no perfect heroes.
We are all as flawed and as selfish as Luna.
What makes Luna, all the men and women in our history books, and the millions of forgotten names who fought for freedom and justice, different from the rest is that they chose to do something.
They saw a corrupt system that was affecting them and everything around them so they decided to do something about it.
Most of them failed. Some of them succeeded. But the simple fact that they did something makes them all heroes.
I had the privilege of talking to the director, Jerrold Tarog. He said that he intentionally made Luna a flawed hero in the hopes of inspiring more people to be heroic.
How can a flawed hero inspire us?
Because a flawed hero shows us that we are all capable of great things. A flawed hero shows us that men and women who have risen to the peak of humanity didn’t get there pristine and lily-white. They are bloody, dirty, and beaten individuals who fought and clawed their way up to rise above human selfishness.
They are heroes not because they are completely selfless. They are heroes because they are selfish people who made an effort to put selfishness aside for a brief moment in their lives to do something that could benefit all.
They are heroes not because they can do no wrong. They are heroes because they chose to take action. They knew they would make mistakes, but they did it anyway because they knew that doing something half right is better than doing nothing at all.
Heneral Luna is flawed as f@#k. Compared to others, yes, he may not be the best example of heroism. But right now, he is the best example that shows everyone, no matter how flawed, can become a hero.
(Images courtesy of Heneral Luna and JR de Castro)