Filmography: Darna and the Giants (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Cast: Vilma Santos, Helen Gamboa, Loreta Marquez, Rosanna Marquez, Romeo Miranda, Desiree Destreza, Florence Aguilar, Ike Lozada, Pepito Rodriguez, Cesar Ramirez, Zandro Zamora, Max Alvarado, Renato Robles, Protacio Dee, Chris “Bhuda” Cruz, Jing Caparas, SOS Daredevils, Greg Lozano, Ricky Valencia, Dave Esguerra, Robert Miller, Karlo Vero, Lorelei, Carina Zawalsky, Lorna Locsin, Nita Lincoln, Elizabeth Vaughn, Christine Soriano, Danny Rojo; Cinematography: Ben Lobo

Plot Description: The second film after the massive success of Lipad Darna Lipa (Fly Darna Fly), Vilma Santos returned as Darna/Narda in Darna and the Giants. Directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Giants was about X3X (Helen Gamboa) who infected ordinary people with serum that made them giants. The giants played havoc to the city and thank goodness Darna eliminated them before demonic X3X conquered the whole world. Now paired with Don Don Nakar as Ding, Vilma radiated the screen for the second time. Kudos to the tricky special effects that made the giants realistic. Ike Lozada stole the film though. His scenes were the funniest in years. Darna used a huge church bell to defeat him. It was unclear why the fat giant, Ike, were allergic to the sound of the church bell. Darna rung the bell to great effects, making the giant Ike felt excruciating pain in his ears. Darna then threw the bell on Ike’s head suffocating him to his immediate death. That alone made everyone’s theatre tickets worth every penny! And lots of pennies as the film became the top grosser of the 1974 Christmas festival. – RV

Vilma Santos Stars in “Darna and the Giants” – Darna fights Alien Invaders and battles “X3X”, an intergalactic Warrior-Queen whose science performs genetic engineering on earthlings and turns them into Giants to bring the Planet Earth to it’s knees. Until Darna eventually kicks the crap out of her and the Giants. – International Hero (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Top Box Office Film of 1973 Metro Manila Film Festival

Film Review: Sine Pilipino got then hot young star Vilma Santos to essay the role of Darna. But the problem was, Vilma was hesitant to wear the two-piece costume. So, during their photo shoot for the publicity photos of the new Darna movie, she wore the Darna costume on top of her body stocking. Vilma was finally convinced by producers Douglas Quijano and William Leary to lose the body stocking and wear just the costume on the day of the press conference. The press people were surprised on seeing how sexy Vilma was in her Darna costume, which was back to the original red bikini and gold stars. Lipad, Darna, Lipad! (1973) is the first and only trilogy of the superheroine.

It was a box-office hit on its first day of showing and considered a turning point in Vilma’s career. It was also the first Darna movie where Darna and Narda was played by the same actress. Unfortunately, there is no existing copy left of this classic film. Vilma starred in three more Darna films: Darna and the Giants (1974) and Darna vs. the Planetwomen (1975), which were both under Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and Darna and Ding (1980) under Niño Muhlach’s D’Wonder Films. Darna and the Giants was the continuation of Vilma’s first Darna movie and Darna again wore the gold bikini costume, while Darna vs. the Planetwomen was a rebooted version of the Darna origin, with Vilma’s Narda this time portrayed as a crippled teenager who was given a magical stone by a mysterious source. The costume is back to red this time with the stars on Darna’s bra also colored red and the headpiece, all gold. Darna and Ding was the last time Vilma played Darna. Her costume this time was sexier and more revealing. In this movie, she was joined by Ding who now has his own superpowers. – Rico J Rod (Read More)

“…Unang ginampaman ni Vilma Santos ang papel ni Darna sa Lipad, Darna Lipad! (Sine Pilipino, 1973). Isang pelikulang may tatlong kasaysayan kung saan nakaharap nito ang palagiang kalabang sina Valentina, Ang Babaeng Lawin at ang Impakta. Sa pagkakataong ito ay mga higante naman ang kinaharap ni Darna. Masasabing, sa pagganap ng aktres bilang Darna tuluyang bumulusok ang kanyang kasikatan. Tunay na akmang-akma dito ang pisikal na kaanyuan ni Darna. Nabigyan din ito ng panibagong bihis nang umpisahan ng aktres ang paglabas sa papel ni Darna. Sa mga naunang pelikula, kadalasa’y dalagita si Narda, at nag-iibang anyo lamang ito kung nilunok na ang batong nagbibigay kapangyarihan bilang Darna. Dahilan sa si Vilma Santos ang naatasang gumanap bilang Darna ay kinailangang ito rin ang lumabas bilang Narda. Sinimulan ng nobelistang si Mars Ravelo ang pagsusulat ng Darna taong 1947 sa magasing Bulaklak. Unang isinapelikula ito ng Royal Films noong 1951 na nagtampok kay Rosa del Rosario samantalang ginampanan naman ni Cristina Aragon ang papel ni Valentina at si Mila Nimfa naman ang gumanap na Narda. Masasabing tanging si Vilma Santos lamang ang nag-iisang aktres na gumanap bilang Darna sa apat na pagkakataon. Isang uri ng pagganap na tunay na nagluklok kay Darna bilang malaking bahagi ng kulturang Pilipino. Sa bawat pagkakataong ito ay tunay na inangkin ni Vilma Santos ang katauhan ni Darna na patuloy na nagbigay aliw sa mga manonood ng sineng Pinoy.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“Due to the Internet, one day soon I’m sure information on all of the cinematic obscurities of the world will be available to us, but at the moment it’s still wonderful to uncover a country’s hidden pop culture hitherto unnoticed by the rest of the planet. Take Video48, a mind-shattering trip into the uncharted realms of Filipino cinema, featuring a menagerie of stills, posters and articles from films I never even dared to dream existed! I stumbled across home-grown super-heroes such as Mars Revelo’s Darna a few years back, and Eric Cueto’s fansite provided a wealth of information on her cinematic adventures, (whilst also revealing tantalising glimpses of her on-screen contemporaries), but I certainly hadn’t realised the extent to which comic book characters pervaded the Philippine big-screen. Chances are the country was second only to Turkey when it came to cinematic Super-heroes – Darna herself has starred in 14 films and two TV series, which certainly puts Wonder Woman to shame…Sadly most of these fantasy films are unlikely to have survived – the condition of the Vilma Santos’ early Darna movies is supposedly so wretched that a DVD release has been permanently canned, and ancient VHS copies of Darna & the Giants and Darna & the Planet Women are jealously guarded by the few collectors who salvaged them from rental shops. Just as in Turkey, these films were probably considered to be as disposable as the comic books on which they were based – but I for one would go ga-ga for a double bill of this years The Dark Knight with 1973′s Fight Batman Fight (fair enough, my brain might melt out of my ears afterwards, but what a way to go…” – Poptique (READ MORE)

Most Popular Darna “…Ding, ang bato!” yells Narda, the adolescent country lass, to her younger brother. Ding obligingly hands over a shiny pebble which Narda swallows to turn herself into the vivacious super-vixen, Darna. Mars Ravelo’s superheroine, clad in crimson bikinis and knee-high stiletto boots, may perhaps be the most famous local fantasy character given life on the silver screen. Though not actually considered a career-defining role, portraying Darna is, nonetheless, highly-coveted. Darna has been portrayed by no less than nine actress in 12 feature films. Rosa del Rosario first wore the scarlet two piece in May 1951. She reprised the role after three months. Liza Moreno, Eva Montes and Gina Pareno followed her. The inter-galactic pebble found its way to Vilma Santos’ throat in 1973 via the flick “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” Santos, now a two-term mayor of Lipa City in Batangas, is probably the most popular Darna, with a total of four movies in a span of seven years. Some of these were made known to younger generations through afternoon airings on television in the late ’80s. Maybe RPN 9 should do that again so that even younger generations can marvel at Darna’s greatness, albeit antiquated, in such movies as “Darna and the Giants” and “Darna vs. the Planet Women…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…The film was released just two years after president Ferdinand Marcos instituted martial law in the Philippines. The resulting censorship of opposition opinions in the media (scripts for films had to be screened by the government before production was allowed to begin) would have prevented direct opposition to Marcos’ methods to be espoused, but the simple story of a 006giant army trampling on the rights of the general populace could easily have slipped by as pure fantasy. Even if not directly relatable to that contemporary situation, the conflict undoubtedly played well with a country occupied in the past by everyone from the Spanish to the English to the imperial Japanese. This was the big Christmas season release for Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and it’s obvious that a good deal of money was put into it. The plentiful special effects moments were devised by effects man Jessie Sto. Domingo and special photographer Tommy Marcelino. The giants are brought to life through simple photographic effects and, more frequently, the use of massive forced-perspective setups requiring hundreds of extras to run about in the background while the giants stand among scaled miniatures in the foreground. It all looks pretty quaint by the industry standards of today, but the shear enthusiasm of those involved is deserving of admiration all the same. I imagine this was quite a succesful domestic release in its time, the star power of the beautiful Vilma Santos being more the enough to guarantee healthy ticket sales. The rest of the cast is full of recognizable industry regulars. Divina Valencia [Pussy Cat, Queen of the Wild Bunch] receives second billing in spite of her few lines, but has definite screen presence as a giant in a Viking helmet. Max Alvarado, who seems to be in just about every Filipino film production since 1950, has a prominent role as a giant as well – a role he would reprise in the fantastic opener for Darna at Ding…” – Kevin Pyrtle, WTF-FILM (READ MORE)

Darna is Not a ‘Rip-off” of Wonder Woman – “…Because of the character’s immense popularity, several other studios would license the character and produce more Darna movies throughout the next several decades. After Rosa Del Rosario, Vilma Santos (who first played Darna in 1973′s “Lipad, Darna, Lipad”) would be the most well known and the most in demand to play the character. She starred in a total of 4 Darna movies. Her 4th and final one being in 1980. For years after that, no more Darna movies were produced…” – Raffy Arcega, Comic Book Movie (READ MORE)

Intergalactic Warrior – “…There were comic-inspired franchises that never travelled beyond their own borders, such as the Darna series from the Philippines in the 1970s – she was an intergalactic warrior disguised as an earthling – and which helped actress Vilma Santos turn the fame she achieved into a political career that still sees her serving as governor of Batangas province…” – Matt Scott, South China Morning Post, 20 April, 2014 (READ MORE)

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