NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY
Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Directed by Lav Diaz
Official Selection, Un Certain Regard, 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Lav Diaz, “the godfather” of the Philippine New Wave – an unfettered and vibrant movement that rejects the commercial impulses of Philippine cinema for a more self-aware and socially critical one – has made a masterpiece with NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY. A study of morality, justice, religion, and family, NORTE reinvents Crime and Punishment, alludes to works by Jose Rizal, and is an allegory for Ferdinand Marcos, who grew up in Ilocos Norte and at 21 years old was prosecuted for murder.
It’s a bold film with a sprawl of unforgettable characters. There’s a law school dropout who impresses his friends with his polemics against nationalism and capitalism. There’s a DVD peddler and his family. And then there’s the town loan shark who connects many of the characters, especially when she is violently killed.
NORTE is a masterpiece for its breadth and grace, encompassing the ideas of Diaz’s previous work and to some an extent the ideas of the movement. This is his most accessible film yet, with color photography and a relatively short running time for the notorious marathon filmmaker. Yet, this is filmmaking at its most uncompromising, infusing emotional intensity, humanism, and narrative zest to Diaz’s usual intellectual and political rigor, making this without doubt one of the cinematic events of the year. –Joseph Mangat