Historiographika Errata is not a history film; it is historical satire.
Director Richard Somes and writer Jim Flores come together to depict tales from the past and re-imagine two of our most beloved historical figures—Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio—and place them in absurd situations that challenge the way we look at them.
Jose Rizal (Joem Bascon) is depicted as a broke and suicidal artist while Andres Bonifacio (Jett Pangan) is shown to be a cross-dresser who keeps an altar of Jose Rizal and prays over it during the Katipunan’s secret meetings.
Again, this is not a history film.
Historiographika Errata makes a conscious effort not to show the two icons as a cliché—the brave heroes who fought for our country’s freedom, one by pen and one by sword.
Rather, the film combines all absurdities and hearsays about Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio to serve as comedic instruments.
Historiographika Errata can be likened to a mosaic filled with fragments of the past and pieces of the imagination—from the Spanish Era, American Era, and the Japanese Era.
Historiographika Errata opens with a depressed Jose Rizal trying his best to pen his suicide note, all while a rather whimsical tune plays in the background to accompany his misery.
But no matter how hard Rizal tries, he just can’t seem to finish his suicide note to the world.
Alongside Rizal is a supportive Leonor Rivera (Max Eigenmann) who, despite her devotion to Rizal, seems completely unbothered by his desire to kill himself.
In this scene, audiences are treated to a visual treat with seamless cinematography and stellar performances by Joem Bascon and Max Eigenmann.
Despite the heavy themes, the opening scene manages to create consistency in the dialogue’s comedic tone without veering away from the fact that Rizal is broke, depressed, and about to get kicked out of his hotel room in Berlin.
There is shock value in seeing Rizal getting hot and heavy in a bed scene with a woman.
Historiographika Errata keeps its momentum as it moves on to the cross-dressing Bonifacio and other members of the Katipunan.
The scenes go back and forth—from Rizal to Bonifacio—all while maintaining its humorous hook.
Then, suddenly, everything gets dark and serious.
Audiences are then taken onto an emotional whirlwind by performances of Alex Medina, who portrays Matteo, a father who chooses to side with the Americans and take over the Moros, and Nathalie Hart, who plays Labrida, a woman who gives sex in exchange for food.
It is notable that both Alex and Nathalie manage to own their scenes and win the empathy of the audiences as they explore each of their characters’ vulnerability and breaking points.
Nathalie proves that she can display depth while exuding a sexy vibe. One will feel sorry for her when she gets abused by the characters of Rafa Siguion-Reyna and Jess Mendoza.
Despite the visual treat offered by Historiographika Errata, the transitions in scenes happen fast, and the change in tones catches the audiences off guard.
To others, this may be part of the film’s charm, yet the different shifts from comedy, to drama, to a little bit of fantasy, to action, then to comedy again—may be a bit too much for audiences to appreciate.
Historiographika Errata’s desire to portray history in a non-conventional manner is the quality that sets it apart from all the other previous period films ever made.
It is unafraid to explore new dimensions and re-imagine the way we tell our history.
In its inaccuracy in giving out the facts about our known figures, Direk Somes and writer Flores were actually able to convey the struggles in living in the time of war, and how people had to oftentimes resolve to primitive instincts in order to survive.
This is, indeed, a film about history. It does not state out bland facts about Rizal or Bonifacio, it tells the tale of how we, as Filipinos, fought so hard to claim freedom from our oppressors, yet in our own ways eventually held each other captive through our own selfish and oftentimes primitive behavior.
Historiographika Errata is one of the entries in the 2017 Cinema One Originals film festival that is ongoing until November 21 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Gateway, U.P. Cine Adarna, Cinema 76, and Cinematheque Kalaw with an extended run from November 22 to 28 at the Rockwell Power Plant Mall.
Ed's Note: The 'PEP Review' section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.