What probably makes Heneral Luna a great movie is the fact that it does not attempt to make a saint out of the hero.
Malupit siya, abusado, mayabang!
This is what Felipe Buencamino says at the end of the movie, obviously referring to General Antonio Luna. And in the most twisted way, despite the bitter taste of the general’s assassination, you couldn’t really disagree with Buencamino. General Luna can be cruel, vulgar, and controlled by pride. The movie doesn’t fail to show Luna’s humanity. It shows Luna as a ruthless leader, a loyal friend, a charming lover, and an obedient son. But more importantly, it also doesn’t fail to show the core of his humanity: his love for his country.
As much as I would want this to be a formal review, I cannot reduce my thoughts to something so structured. It’s been hours since I saw the film (long overdue since I should have watched it during its first week but I never had the time), and I still can’t stop thinking about it. But it’s not because it has the makings of a classic. It’s not because of the cinematography and the actors’ brilliant acting. No, it’s not even about Luna’s heroism and tragedy.