Disney’s Chicken Little (1943): Stinging and Relevant in the Age of Social Media

Once upon a time before the Internet and Social Media cartoons were shown as features in movie houses. The propaganda boys and girls of the United States used this as a medium to educate the people against propaganda and at the same time use it as propaganda against their enemy Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. Originally, the title of the book Foxy Loxie was reading was Hitler’s Mein Kampf – they changed it to Psychology. This morality tale is still important today as it was during World War II.

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Heneral Luna: The Propaganda Movement would be proud of this film

Heneral Luna is a powerful film. It has earned praise and applause from those who have watched it. But, It has also earned criticism, at least I saw one, because of its unintended effect of favoring martial rule over democratic and libertarian ideals. Then again one must remember the story took place during the Philippine Revolution and the infancy of the Philippine Republic, in particular during the Philippine American War. And despite such criticisms the film is still receives acclaim and applause. More importantly it reminds us the same treachery, incompetence, and corruption that doomed the First Philippine Republic is still eating away at ours.

The film succeeds in telling a powerful story because of efforts of the ensemble performance of the actors, directors, writers, producers, and everyone involved. The story main source come from the work of Vivencio Jose’s THE RISE AND FALL OF ANTONIO LUNA and Nick Joaquin’s iconoclastic work A QUESTION OF HEROES. It is quite evident, if you had read both works previously. The film mixes historical account, gossip and cinematic license to come up with a non-boring account of Luna’s life. A mixture of drama and anecdotal comedy propels the movie along quite nicely to its tragic climax – the assassination, that can only be appreciated on the silver screen.

The film also have homage to a number of historical tidbits, including one a famous painting by Luna’s brother Juan. Unfortunately and probably in the cause of brevity one aspect of Luna’s life was not looked at, Luna the Scientist and his military studies. I often wonder aside from the infamous Luna temper was his training and profession as a scientist made him more impatient and stressed with the politics and bureaucratic malaise of the Malolos Republic?

It would be easy to understand the affinity of the audience to the story of Luna. Just looking at what has happened after independence the same tragedy is happening. The National Tragedy that is reinforced in the film is that two of our heroes and founding fathers, Bonifacio and Luna, were butchered by Filipinos, with the approval of the Malolos Republic leadership.

The film is said to be part of a trilogy: the first being the story of Luna; the second being the story of Gregorio del Pilar; and the third being that of Manuel Quezon. If you look at it carefully it is though one story: It would be the story of Emilio Aguinaldo and the Philippine Republic. All three stories point to three tragic episodes: The Defeat and Fall of the Malolos Republic after Luna; The Capture of Aguinaldo after the fall of Del Pilar; And the Electoral Defeat of Aquinaldo before Quezon at the Commonwealth Election, where the ghosts of Luna and Bonifacio came back to haunt Aguinaldo. The next two films should be worth watching.

Indeed it is a powerful film: It is a powerful story that our Forefathers in the Propaganda Movement would be proud because it moves people to think and hopefully to act.

A question for my students who was Luna the scientist?

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It is not your usual Romeo and Juliet

Dulaang UP’s take on Romeo and Juliet opened to a full house and this was the matinee. The play was an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The play was billed as a a multimedia hallucination and indeed it was and more. One of the main backdrop was a screen where the audience was treated to snippets of videos; screen grabs from smartphone chats and facebook; videos from cctv; and the presence of technology was ubiquitous,

Indeed it was as if Romeo and Juliet were re-adapted to the present day Metro Manila where Verona if it were not a city or a town would be a gated community somewhere South of our Megapolis.

The play also has its ingredients of political and social commentary culled from the present society. Quotes, videos and comedy sketches spared no one. At one point you would see the President or Pnoy make his appearance, although this might have been done better with an actor playing the Doge both as a moral compass and comic relief.

Dance also played a vital role in the play. Providing the necessary props at time and the proverbial Greek Chorus of the play. In the end this added a layer of interest in this adaptation.

But then again this is not your mother’s Romeo and Juliet. I never thought you could make Romeo and Juliet more tragic and more dystopian than it is and perhaps that is why it is worth watching.

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