By Heinrich Domingo
To look at a film is to judge it impartially. Yet, we tend to give leeway to Filipino-made films because of financial and technological limitations. Ignacio de Loyola proves us that this should not be the case. It asks the audience to suspend their biases. It challenges them to view the film using the highest standards available.
In 1491 Spain, a boy named Iñigo was born into a noble family. This film chronicles his journey from being a soldier to becoming a hermit and a priest. It details his struggles with depression, near-suicide experience, and the Spanish Inquisition. Ignacio de Loyola is not the typical religious film. While it narrates the story of a saint, it focuses on de Loyola’s grim difficulties to achieve solace in religion. It offers a realistic view that even saints are flawed.
The film stars are mostly Spanish but members of the production team are all Filipinos. Produced by the Jesuit congregation in the Philippines, the project started out as a response to a growing concern. The last film made about their founder was in the 1940s, black and white, and in Spanish.
We have learned our lesson after watching Felix Manalo. As much as we loathe it, we have seen the possibility that films can be effective vessels of religious teachings. Through high-cost production and an outstanding roster of actors and actresses, Felix Manalo packaged an unpalatable plot into becoming one of 2015’s highest earning films.
Although Ignacio de Loyola started from the same standpoint, it turned out to be far better than expected. We have seen a clear development of storyline. The protagonist’s actions are well supported through properly laying out the story’s setting. As a result, the transformation was smooth from a noble child to a failed soldier to a frail hermit, and eventually, to a strong religious leader.
The acting of the cast, especially Andreas Muñoz (playing Iñigo), contributed to the development of a great storytelling. The realistic production design as well as the well-written script added to the over-all appeal of the film. Although the initial part was weak and unsure, it later gained momentum ending with a powerful message.
Although the culture and images shown in the movie are anything but Filipino, the team’s effort is worthy of praise and acclamation. They have shown that filmmakers in this nation can go beyond cheesy mainstream romcoms and poverty-ridden indies. There is so much left to cover in the film industry and even the religious genre previously thought hopeless suddenly has a bright future.