Jose Rizal is not only the most revered Filipino hero—with almost every major city or town with a park named after him or a monument erected in his honor—he is also the favorite subject of filmmakers among those who’ve left a legacy to the country.
Celebrating his 120th death anniversary today, The Manila Times takes a look at the movies that were inspired by his colossal achievements and influence.
Rizal Sa Dapitan (1997). Albert Martinez as Rizal. Amanda Page as Josephine Bracken. Screenplay by Pete Lacaba.
Rizal teaches the children for free and renders medical services to the community during his exile in Dapitan. Josephine arrives from Hong Kong to have her blind stepfather treated by Rizal. Their application for marriage is not granted by the Cebu bishopric so they live as common-law husband and wife, with Josephine bearing a stillborn son, whom Rizal names after his father, Francisco.
Rizal leaves Dapitan in extreme sadness as he intended to work in Cuba, but gets arrested and executed, giving birth to the Philippine Revolution.
Jose Rizal (1998). Cesar Montano as Rizal. Gloria Diaz as Teodoro Alonso. Chin Chin Gutierrez as Josephine Bracken. Directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya.
The film is a biographical sketch of the national hero and an entry to the 1998 Metro Manila Film Festival where it won most of the awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress. Jose Rizal was the most expensive Filipino film with over P80 million budget at the time of release.
In the film, Rizal is imprisoned at Fort Santiago while the uprising against Spain commences in Balintawak with Bonifacio and his Katipunan group tearing their cedulas.
Rizal bequeaths a small alcohol stove to his family containing his last poem “Mi Ultimo Adios.” At the moment of his execution in Bagumbayan, he turns around to face the firing squad.
Bayaning 3rd World (1999). Ricky Davao as Filmmaker number 1. Joel Torre as Jose Rizal. Cris Villanueva as Filmmaker number 2. Directed by Mike De Leon.
Two filmmakers investigate the heroism of Rizal before venturing into production, focusing on his supposed retraction of his views against the Roman Catholic Church as expressed in his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Fictionalized interviews with key people in the life of the hero—his mother and siblings, Bracken and Jesuit priest Vicente Balaguer, said to be the witness of the retraction—and Rizal himself to get to the bottom of the issue.
The movie was graded “A,” and won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Joel Torre), Best Cinematoghraphy, Best Sound and Best Music in the 2000 Gawad Urian.
Jose Rizal: The First Hero (2012). Directed by Paolo Abella, produced by Jourdan Sebastian and shown on Vimeo, the documentary was touted as “a groundbreaking new documentary about the person, the legend, and the mystery that shrouds Jose Rizal—a cinematic and utterly truthful presentation of the story of Rizal’s heroism, never seen before.”