T500FC, 407th: Karnal (Marilou Diaz-Abaya, 1983)


Apparently this film won a lot of awards during its heyday. It includes the 1983 MMFF, FAP, FAMAS, and GAWAD URIAN. This was also the time when Marilou Diaz-Abaya created waves during the second coming of the local film industry, giving us Brutal and Moral before this movie was shown to the people. And it gives us another crazy but awesome Vic Silayan and his take on being a father, reminiscent of his role in Mike De Leon’s Kisapmata.

This film stars Philip Salvador as the prodigal son who goes back to his hometown, a province along with his urban wife, Cecille Castillo. Vic Silayan is the stereotype father of Salvador, who gives us the simple living in old-school rural areas in the Philippines. Complications arise when Silayan does something maniacal to Castillo which in turn gives Salvador something the audience would surely remember. Charito Solis stars as the storyteller cum daughter of Castillo.

I tried to remember what the film was like. The subject of the film was too grim but it stayed inside a jar, where it didn’t really push through to what it was saying. I barely remember the scenes even if I know I spent some time watching it. I am not saying that the movie is forgettable. It seems that there are a few parts of the film that could’ve been edited properly to at least convey the story better to the audience, the audience meaning me.

I was surprised that this film gallantly won a lot of awards during the early eighties. Personally, it was not that great for me as opposed to the eighties greats. I mean you can’t help it but compare the movie, probably to something smart as Mike De Leon’s Kisapmata or the vividly spectacular movie by Peque Gallaga’s Oro, Plata, Mata.

But I think I know what the movie is telling us. I think it has been remade over and over. That change is not always good and sometimes, if change is not working it would be better if you try to adjust and go with the flow rather than fight it, which is what the character of Castillo was supposedly telling us. Much more with the delicate matter of the film’s take on human behavior with regards to sex was probably known before but usually hush-hushed.

I can’t say that I enjoyed the film since it defines the bad characters of people. One thing that is interesting is on how Marilou Diaz-Abaya handles these kinds of films before, she might be a little bit tame today but boy, she was different back then.


One comment

  1. the movie was simply unforgettable and woeful. every scene in this movie is allegorical for me. even the music done by mr.cayabyab here screams tragedy and truly they’re haunting. the theme was relatively morbid but enthralling.

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