A brilliant fusion of florid melodrama and gritty realism, Lino Brocka’s story of a country boy traversing the myriad pitfalls of Manila’s urban jungle — presented here in a dazzling 4K restoration — is widely considered to be the greatest Philippine film of all time.
Manila in the Claws of Light
Considered by many to be the greatest Philippine film of all time, Lino Brocka's masterpiece of gritty realism has finally resurfaced thanks to the World Cinema Foundation, founded by Martin Scorsese. This new 4K restoration was created from the original camera and sound negatives, which were deposited at the BFI National Archive in the early 1980s by legendary film programmer Pierre Rissient on behalf of Brocka.
Adapted from a serialized novel by award-winning author Edgardo M. Reyes, Manila follows a young provincial named Julio (Bembol Roco) as he arrives in the eponymous capital city in search of his beloved Ligaya (Hilda Koronel). Scrabbling to survive, Julio drifts through a number of temporary jobs — from black-market construction worker to gay prostitute — and endures all manner of indignities, brutalities and exploitations as he plunges relentlessly into the city's lower depths, driven by the hope that he will be reunited with his lost love.
The fact that Manila exists at all is something
of a miracle considering the conditions
under which it was made. Independently
financed and shot on location, the film
presents a searing portrait of life under the oppressive Marcos regime, vividly depicting
its corruption, political injustices, and poisonous
effects on society. Made with force,
passion, and lucidity, Brocka's epic is a brilliant
fusion of full-throttle melodrama and
ultra-realism. Its return in this marvellous
new restoration is a major event in global
cinema culture. "When you watch Manila,
you'll be burned by a flame that never goes
out" (Pierre Rissient).
Restored in 2013 by the World Cinema Foundation and the Film Development Council of the Philippines at Cineteca di Bologna/L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with LVN, Cinema Artists Philippines and Mike de Leon.