By: Christian Dy
Padre de la Rama, the sagely priest Raffi Banzuela plays in the film, says something about men being caught between remembering the past and imagining the future. Memory then is behind us, and imagination, in front of us.
I am tempted to play around with the idea, and to think that the ideal state of affairs would be the reverse; that imagination were behind us, and memory were in our future. Would it not be the most Christ-like of conditions if men were imagined (and thus anticipated) before being conceived, and then remembered after their time had come to pass? Perhaps, but this most ideal of conditions is not given to everyone.
Indeed, there are even those whose births are accidents of circumstance, and whose lives and deaths have been long forgotten.
This is worse than suffering injustice in life. Hinulid, then, delivers excellently when it asserts the converse: that memory is greater than justice. Indeed mortal justice could not do final justice to broken bones and wounded flesh and emptied spirit. The laws of mere men are meaningless in the face of eternity. Christ asked not to be avenged, but to be remembered, and his Church finds sustenance in that final instruction. The repentant thief asked for nothing more than to be remembered when the Lord ascends to paradise. All hope in our faith, all meaning to our existence, and our only chance at cheating on our appointment with oblivion is the prospect of being remembered. It subverts all the pain.
Death is no incident if it does not offer passage into memory. We owe it to our beloved dead to remember them.
They say that the sense of hearing fades away last when one nears death. If anything, this reveals the intimate relationship between sound and memory. Without devaluing its visual quality, Hinulid is primarily an aural experience. The film's sounds evoke, invoke, and provoke.
Finally, I have debated with myself whether to include a brief note on what I saw to be artistic influences of the director pervading the film. The literary quality of the film is palpable; Cordero's opus would make an excellent tribute to Borges. It is also, certainly, a tip of the hat to Jesuits, under whom the director studied, and to pedagogy in general. Most pleasingly to this convert of a writer, Hinulid is highly reverential of the Church, without worshiping it. This is a breath of fresh air from the stale atmosphere of contemporary independent cinema, where speaking ill of ancient institutions seems to be the norm if not the prerequisite.
In summary, Cordero has extended the boundaries of cinema, without having to say so. In the Bikolano risorgimento, Cordero is often called the enfant terrible. The reverence, the humility, the genius in the film make me think that he merits the additional (if not alternative) title of "enfant adorable." Hinulid is a Bikolano film first; but it is Bikol with a loving view to the world.