This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Romero (1989)

"I'd like to make an appeal in a special way to the men in the army. Brothers, each one of you is one of us. We are the same People. The farmers and peasants that you kill are your own brothers and sisters. When you hear the words of a man telling you to kill, think instead in the words of God, 'Thou shalt not kill!' No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the Law of God. In His name and in the name of our tormented people who have suffered so much, and whose laments cry out to heaven: I IMPLORE YOU! I BEG YOU! I ORDER YOU! STOP THE REPRESSIONS!"
-Archbishop Oscar Romero.

The recent decision to make Popes John XXIII and John Paul II saints prompted me to review this film, which depicts the heroism of another figure who many say should be made a saint-Oscar Romero, who peacefully protested the violent military regime in El Salvador until his assassination in 1980.

The late, great Raul Julia was probably best known for playing Gomez Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993). His posthumous Emmy win for playing real-life rainforest activist Chico Mendes in The Burning Season (1994) was a fitting farewell to him.

He is equally excellent here as Romero, and the film, which was funded Paulist Pictures (which was run by Paulist Fathers, priests from the Roman Catholic Church), doesn't spare any dramatic punches in its depiction of the horrific events that Romero witnesses each day and attempts to stop.

The film begins with Romero arriving in El Salvador in 1977 to begin his new duties as the country's Archbishop. Some believe that he is unfit for the positions and, initially, Romero attempts to placate the people who speak out against the country's totalitarian government.

But Romero begins speaking out himself when he realizes that the government rigs elections and tortures and kills innocent people, including his friend Fr. Grande (Richard Jordan).

Romero's efforts bring him international attention, as does his assassination while giving Mass on March 24, 1980.

The cast is terrific, but it's Julia who makes the movie work, perfectly expressing anguish at what he is experiencing but never backing down on his efforts to stop the madness around him, even when he is offered protection by the government.

While nobody was ever held accountable for Romero's death and he was not the last victim of such violence in the country, Romero's efforts left a lasting legacy.

Thirteen years after Romero's death, an official apology was issued by El Salvador's president Mauricio Funes to Romero's family and Church officials.

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