T. int.: Manila in the Claws of Light. Scen.: Clodualdo del Mundo dal romanzo omonimo di Edgardo Reyes. F.: Miguel de Leon. M.: Edgardo Jarlego, Ike Jarlego. Mus.: Max Jocson. Su.: Luis Reyes, Ramon Reyes. Int.: Bembel Roco (Julio Madiaga), Hilda Koronel (Ligaya Paraiso), Lou Salbador Jr. (Atong), Tommy Abuel (Pol), Jojo Abella (Bobby), Juling Badabaldo (Misis Cruz). Prod.: Miguel de Leon, Severino Manotok per Cinema Artists. DCP. D.: 124′. Col.
There are undoubtedly a few people left who still remember that day in Cannes 1978 when rumors started circulating about a small, low budget film from the Philippines. A ‘dirty’ film, as some claimed, once more proving Lu Xun correct when he observed that while some art might originate in the sewer, it can be so full of passion that it goes as deep as tragedy. And perhaps even further, because Lino was one of the most physical filmmakers that cinema has ever had. […] He possessed a remarkable vitality which was expressed fully in the large demonstrations he organized against Marcos’ regime. With the money he made with his commercial films he bought some sophisticated sound equipment which allowed him to cover the entire Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Manila’s massive north to south transportation corridor. Lino knew all the arteries of this swarming city, and he penetrated them just as he penetrated the veins of the outcasts in his films. Sometimes a vein would crack open and bleed. And that blood oozed on the screen with Insiang, Jaguar, Bona, Bayanko, all of which were shown in Cannes. And then, just like that, he died, in a stupid, easily avoidable car accident. […] Still, when you watch Manila, you’ll be burned by a flame that never goes out.
Ultra-fast, fiercely vital, unclassifiable, this little man exists right in the heart of his country. He knows and experiences all the contradictions of Filipino culture and cinema. Brocka is not a solitary hero, he is a public figure; though marginal, exposed, and slandered, he is protected by his fame abroad. He has some key traits in common with Pasolini: a respect for ‘lower’ culture, a feeling for the beauty of the body, a willingness to dissect the social links that the bodies represent. Brocka loves flinging his characters into the traps of mise en scène, he never turns away when they are overwhelmed by emotion, and once they are cornered, neither can we.
Serge Daney, 1981
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 Miguel de Leon
The restoration was made possible through the use of the original camera and sound negatives deposited by Pierre Rissient, on behalf of Lino Brocka, at the BFI National Archive since the early 1980s. The state of conservation of the negatives was critical. The negative was wet-scanned at 4K resolution. Color decay was also a significant problem. The film's cinematographer, Mike de Leon, attentively guided the grading phase and validated a positive print for reference.