List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 846/1007Title: Maynila, sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Light)
Director: Lino Brocka
Well I am finally halfway through the watching around the world challenge. Doesn’t really help that I have been so focussed on getting through the 1001 list that new countries are more down to coincidence than anything more active. This is the last new country to be found outside the ‘danger zone’ of films released in the last 15 years. So if I want to keep this challenge going, looks like I’m going to need to start searching.
Manila in the Claws of Light is one of the more depressing films that I have seen on the 1001 list for a very long time. Depressing because it feels so much like a story that will have happened numerous times before and after the release. Also, it begins in a black-and-white documentary style before focussing in on the central story of exploitation, poverty and corruption – which firmly grounds everything in the real world.
In a nutshell, a man leaves his rural area in search of his girlfriend who has moved to Manila for work. He loses all his money in the search, has to work as a labourer at a severely reduced rate to make ends meet – only to find she has been effectively tricked into prostitution. It’s grim stuff.
One thing I really did not expect to appear in this film, which I should have considering this is the Philippines, are references to gay and transgender individuals. In fact, call boys and male prostitution is a significant portion of the film which, given the awkwardness and the heterosexuality of the lead, is a very odd bit.
Don’t watch this if you’re not prepared for something close to light-hearted. Do watch if you want to see more about how Manila as a city was failing its citizens in terms of income disparity and overall poverty.