8 Questions You (Probably) Wanted To Ask About ‘Martyr or Murderer’
Mar 7, 2023   •   Kel Fabie
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Mar 7, 2023   •   Kel Fabie
It just had to be done. With two movies going at each other’s throats in hopes of winning in the court of public opinion, it’s inevitable that someone had to watch Martyr or Murderer by Daryl Yap and Oras de Peligro by Joel Lamangan.
At first glance, it really looks like Cristine Reyes is flipping us off twice.
And so I ended up watching both. So we could review both films and compare them on the same grounds, let’s ask both movies the same 8 questions in hopes of trying to figure out how both movies stack up when examined side-by-side.
Focusing on the aftermath of Maid in Malacanang (at least, from what I heard, since I didn’t watch that), this movie tries to ask who the real martyr and/or murderer is between Ninoy and Macoy. It covers the long-established relationship between Ninoy and Imelda, questions the narrative behind the assassination of Ninoy, and puts Imee Marcos in the center of it all (sometimes at the expense of every other Marcos family member).
Was Marcos Sr. wrong in not actively fighting the attempts to take him down, leading to the exile of the Marcoses? If the Aquinos were so right, then why were they so shady and clearly indebted to the kindness of the Marcoses? Did Marcos Sr. love the country so much that he sacrificed his own legacy (for the time being) in hopes of protecting them from something worse?
All things considered, despite painting a picture of how Cory tried to block the return of the Marcoses to Manila, history does say it was her who did just that, despite the movie suggesting that this was something she was terrified of doing. You might even say that resolving the central conflict ended up being “super easy; barely an inconvenience.”
The opening shot had a beautiful drone shot that really looked great. It was all downhill from there.
The part where Vincentiments just had to do Vincentiments.
In Irene Marcos’s wedding scene, the priest was delivering a sermon which was clearly a lengthy tirade at the Marcoses and their excesses in the middle of rampant poverty. Imee then stood up, then body slammed the priest and started punching him in the fac to cheers from everyone in the church.
Before things got too graphic, Imee then remembers the priest wasn’t Archimedes Trajano and snaps back to reality, realizing that she stood up in the middle of the sermon with ill intent in her ind. Indiscriminate physical violence! Classic Vincentiments hijinks right there!
Let’s put it this way. The real best part of the movie was the trailer for Cocaine Bear. And that was probably more historically accurate than this movie.
The reason for this is twofold: one, yes, they resort to historical documents, but then take them out of context to serve their own agenda. Meanwhile, Oras De Peligro kept its opinions and its facts separate by letting the documentary side of the film speak on its own. Two, at the end, their exhortation was that these documents are “all for the public to see,” but that “certain people desperate to cling to power are manipulating history.” But who are these people? The Aquinos? Who? Bimby? Josh? Marlou Aquino? Carlo Aquino? Leni? She’s not in power at all. The Liberal Party? What Liberal Party? The one nearly everyone jumped ship from at the first sign of trouble? The documentary tries to make it “us vs them,” but can’t quite paint the picture of who “them” really are, unless you realize the obvious…
“Them” are the people who don’t agree with the “us.” It’s pitting the Filipino people one against the other. Sorry, but we gotta point out only one side was spouting “unity” this whole time, so this really doesn’t track.
Mostly quiet, as there were around 10 or less people in the cinema, but there was this one guy muttering to his girlfriend “ang sama talaga!” every time Cory or Ninoy was onscreen.
Comedy, but only because Oras De Peligro was not trying to be funny at all. If I had to find a second thing this movie did better, maybe the longer running time? This movie was literally just one minute longer than the other one.
Fine. Here’s a good one: Martyr or Murderer managed to zoom in on the Marcos family drama so well that you could forget that EDSA was more than just Marcos vs. Aquino. In doing so, it became much easier to pit the two sides against each other because obviously, when the people don’t matter, a feud between two families can really be just a matter of opinion.
Can it make someone decidedly Anti-Marcos change their tune? No. Not for anything, but in making Imee Marcos the central character and literally the only sensible one in the entire family, it actually ends up being propaganda for Imee, and not for the Marcoses. There was something really extra pathetic about BBM crying on the phone to his elder sister, asking for help because Leni “cheated” him out of the elections — an accusation that was disproven multiple times by the Comelec while his allies were in power.
That being said, if the objective was to make Imee seem like a great future choice for president, then mission accomplished, assuming you willingly take the whole movie at face value. It’s just really hard to feel sympathetic for the Marcoses when you realize how luxurious their lives still were despite exile – especially when you remember that in Morocco, Imee was living in a literal palace.
At the end of the day, what this movie is asking you is not to see where the other side (aka, the pro-Marcos) are coming from. It’s asking you to see where Imee Marcos is coming from. And seeing as while she was in exile in Morocco, she was coming from a literal palace, feeling sympathetic for her and relating to her, let alone the rest of her family, is a huge ask from anyone, regardless of where your political leanings may lie.
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