Thursday, July 04, 2013

Salome (Laurice Guillen, 1981)

A sensuous piece of work by Laurice Guillen, this great film pulls you in and sweeps you up in waves upon waves of memorable images.

An image of a woman running through the woods was so good the Cinemalaya 2007 film Tukso also copied it. Salome is wearing a white dress, which contrasted beautifully with the trees. Blood was splattered over her dress. She runs past several people and then stops. In near hysteria, she yells out that she just killed a man.

This influential film then showed different versions of the death of Jimmy, a visiting mining engineer. This unraveling of the truth through various viewpoints was later utilized in the Gawad Urian winner Itanong Mo sa Buwan and Tukso.

On the other hand, Salome owes a huge debt to the Akira Kurosawa classic Rashomon. The contrasting versions of truth and the dazzling shots of sun piercing through the tree branches were taken from the Japanese film.

Another beautiful image is that of a dancing Salome at the isolated beach. Unknown to her, Jimmy is watching intently. He gets seduced by her gyrations and laughter. The scene recalls the biblical story of the beheading of John the Baptist. King Herod was so enamored with the sensual dance of Salome that he told the lass to ask for anything she wanted. The mother ordered Salome to request for the head of John on a plate. King Herod was left with no choice but to order the killing of John. 

Anong sirena? Sirang-sira na!
 -Aling Tale-
Salome is a woman cursed with seductive power. She is likened to a siren. According to Greek mythology, sirens seduce mariners with their singing. Those unfortunate enough to listen to the songs will be killed in their sleep or starve to death. It is also the same with Salome. Anyone smitten by her charms will be forever at her mercy until death comes.

The most erotic scene in the film showed Jimmy gently pinching the derriere of Salome. I was enthralled by the mermaid stories of Lolo that when the scene came I found it to be extremely sexy.

I love the excellent performance of Gina Alajar, the seductive images of cinematographer Romeo Vitug, the literary allusions of scriptwriter Ricky Lee, and the masterful direction of Guillen.

I’m highly recommending this film that deservedly won the Best Picture Award over Kisapmata at the 1982 Gawad Urian Awards. Yes, you'd read it right. Over Kisapmata.

Gina Alajar : Salome Dungawan
Johnny Delgado : Macario ‘Karyo’ Dungawan
Dennis Roldan : Jimmy
Armida Siguion-Reyna : Aling Tale
Bruno Punzalan : Lolo

*original online posting in 2008

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