FILM REVIEW: DARNA AND THE GIANTS


The Plot: 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 (READ MORE)

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)

The Reviews: “…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 De Vera, Sari-Saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“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)

“…For the second time around Vilma, proves that her first Darna was no fluke. Darna And The Giants vanquished all of her box office competitors. Very creative special effects by Tommy Marcelino consider it was made early in the 70’s. Sex kitten Divina Valencia as one of the giants as well as Ike Lozada, Max Alvarado, Zandro Zamora and many more. Vilma was the third actress to play the dual role of a teen-age Narda, Darna. Gina Pareno had two alter ego’s in her own version as well as Liza Moreno played Narda and Darna in Sputnik VS. Darna. Vilma also changed Darna’s transformation in all of her Darna films by using a flash of light instead of the thick smoke. She dons a retro version of Darna with shiny gold and red costume and matching platform boots. In this film Vilma was no hold bars. Romy V. Susara and Leody M. Diaz choreograped Darna’s awesome fight scenes. Continuing where “Lipad, Darna, Lipad” left off, Narda (Vilma Santos) and Ding (Dondon Nakar) encountered their greatest challenge yet – The Alien Warrior Queen-“X3X” (Helen Gamboa) and her alien minions. In this latest adventure, X3X terrorizes Narda’s village and captures several of the townsfolk and transforming them into mindless Giants who went on a rampage across the countryside in the hopes of conquering the earth without the use of nuclear weapons. When Narda’s suitor Romy (Romeo Miranda) is captured, the threat of the alien Queen becomes personal. With a Global threat such as this, will Darna’s courage and powers be up to the challenge? Watch and find out!! “Darna and the Giants” Also stars- Katy Dela Cruz as “Lola”, and an all-star cast of 70’s icons with cameos from Leopoldo Salcedo, Edgar Mortiz, Eddie Peregrina, Nick Romano, Lotis Key, Tony Ferrer (as Falcon) & more. “Darna and the Giants” produced by Tagalog-Ilang Ilang production and directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza with Darna Theme composed by Sunny Ilacad (Vicor)…” – Eric Cueto (READ MORE)

“…Dramatically speaking, Darna and the Giants is more consistent (and coherent) than the later Darna at Ding (the only other of the series I’ve seen to date). The early narrative focuses on the home life of Narda, the romantic advances of a local young man and the bothersome antics of Ding. There’s quite a lot of singing here (Narda’s wooer is a musician), including an amusing moment where the cast spontaneously erupts into a Tagalog reworking of Singin’ in the Rain while doing household chores. There are the expected comic interludes, like a guitar-toting suitor realizing he’s been serenading a homosexual man as opposed to an attractive rural woman, but fewer than one might imagine, and once the aliens have landed things take a more serious turn. Darna and the Giants actually shows us the aftermath of a giant attack before introducing the giants themselves, with Darna and Ding visiting an impromtu outdoors hospital for the many victims. It’s not a happy sight, as a husband watches his wife die in agony and a young woman searches futily for her lost mother. When the giants are revealed they turn out to be intolerable bullies who fight amongst themselves before being sent out to frighten the local population into submission. And frighten they do! The giants prove to be a nasty bunch, crushing people beneath their feet and using uprooted power poles to swat at them like bugs. Houses are picked up and shaken about with their occupants still inside, only to be tossed casually aside when the giant’s attention is otherwise diverted. The death on display is quite graphic for all-ages entertainment, and ensures that our sympathies are squarely with Darna when she flies in to give the over-sized miscreants their just deserves…I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a simple political message to Darna and the Giants.

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)

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Filmography: Darna vs. the Planet Women (1975)

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Basic Information: Directed: Armando Garces; Story: Mars Ravelo; Screenplay: Armando Garces; Cast: Vilma Santos, Rosanna Ortiz, Zandro Zamora, Bentot Jr., Eva Linda, Lita Vasquez, Liza Zobel, Diana Villa; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Carding Cruz; Cinematography: Amado De Guzman

Plot Description: She is just a simple woman- a lady gifted with disability that she cannot leave her crutch. Narda/Darna (Vilma Santos) is very much contented with her life – having the company of her little brother and their grandmother not to mention her someone special who already accepts and love her for who she is. She has a greatest dream of helping and touching the lives of many but buried that in her heart given the situation that she has. Who would imagine that she will be chosen as the saviour of the Mother Earth against the dangerous attempt of the aliens from other planet? She was chosen to be strong and powerful “Darna”, a local superhero whose role is to depend the people and stop the plan of invasion from women in another planet. They want to use the earth as the extension of their planet by killing its people especially the experts in all areas such as metal, nuclear, moral and others. Darna has to act and who knows how much she is going to sacrifice with the given MISSION… – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Film Achievement:   Vilma Santos’ third successful film as Darna.

Film Review: In this 1975 film (the 3rd in a 4 Darna film franchise), the story of Darna is rebooted as this new installment is NOT a continuation of the 1st and 2nd films. In this revamped version, Narda (Vilma Santos) is a cripple who dreams of accomplishing great things for the betterment of humankind despite her physical limitations. One day, she discovers her suitor (Zandro Zamora) paralyzed after having been attacked by a UFO. Together with her brother Ding (Bentot Jr.), she prays for help and offers to sacrifice herself for the sake of her suitor’s survival. A voice from beyond answers and sends her an enchanted amulet of power. The power of Darna contained within the magic pebble. With her newfound powers, she battles The Planet Women- Alien Amazons who are trying to transport the Earth to their own star system. – Eric Cueto, Mars Ravelo’s Darna (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)

Vilma Santos returns as the Pinoy Wonder Woman in the third of her four Darna films. This time around Narda is a plucky, somewhat disabled village girl who prays for justice and mercy in a world beset by pointless brutality, represented here by a gang of fairly unambitious local bullies. When her boyfriend Ramon (Zandro Zamora) is frozen by a mysterious ray from a UFO her prayers are answered in the form of a magic pebble which enables her to transform into Amazonian superbeauty Darna. She rescues her boyfriend, who is being used by a gang of female aliens, the titular (heh) Planet Women, as a source of information on all the world’s leading authorities on nuclear power, metallurgy, and, er, morality (all of whom live within comfortable abducting distance of Darna’s village in the arse-end of nowhere) so that they, the Planet Women, can kidnap these elite thinkers and use their knowledge to steal the planet Earth and take it to their overpopulated solar system of Arko Eris. – MyDuckIsDead.com (READ MORE)

“…Darna may be easily dismissed by many as a cheap Pinoy knockoff of Superman or Wonder Woman, but there’s much more to her. Since her first appearance in the burgeoning komik industry in 1947, she captured the imagination of the komik-reading underclasses: Narda is an innocent country lass who has superpowers thrust upon her transforming her into the costumed Darna to protect the world, the Philippines, her village, her family, and most of all, her younger brother Ding. It’s wish fulfilment for girls, pure cheesecake for boys, and after sixty years – her first film appearance was in 1950, the last TV series three years ago – Darna is still a much-revered staple of Philippines pop culture. Vilma took over the role in 1973 in a crazed, Mad Magazine style satiric reimagining called Lipad, Darna, Lipad, and over four appearances in the next seven years, would arguably become the actress most associated with the role. Darna vs The Planet Women from 1975 is the most fun and certainly most colourful of Vilma’s stint, thought strangely enough it’s as if the previous Darna adventures had never occurred, or had slipped into a Black Hole where most of the Philippines’ lost cinema must also exist. Instead we are reintroduced to Narda, unremarkable country lass with a heart of gold and serious limp. Her two great loves, it seems, are chubby little brother Ding, and her awkward beau Ramon. An altercation with the local goons ends with a flying saucer suddenly appearing over a field, and Ramon is beamed aboard. It’s a ship piloted by Elektra (Rosanna Ortiz), blue leader of a pack of painted space floozies clad in primary colour wigs, shower caps and AM radios strapped to them. Narda feels bad about losing her guy to a space sorority, but a kindly voice tells her to stop worrying, and plonks a magic stone in her lap. On the cry of “Darna!”, Narda transforms from unglamorous barrio girl – unassuming, with very little makeup – into gaudy statue of pure womanhood. No wonder poor Ding’s eyeballs are almost dropping to the ground like marbles. The Planet Women, it seems, are here to study human behaviour- whether they like it or not – and are intent on kidnapping the world’s leading scientists. Not so, says Darna, who flies into their space ship to play the jealous girlfriend bit. She gets back Ramon, but it won’t be the last time the Planet Women gain control over the weak-willed boob. It’s a real battle of minds: desperate kung-fu kicking Star Slappers against the self-righteous Darna in an escalating series of face-offs and showdowns for the ultimate prize – the fate of the Universe itself…” – Andrew Leavold (READ MORE)

“…Darna Vs. The Planet Women is the third film in the franchise where Santos was the superhero. The first two were Lipad! Darna! Lipad! and Darna And The Giants. Currently, I have three of the four Santos as Darna films, which includes the Darna At Ding film minus the Lipad! Darna! Lipad! movie. And the funny thing about this is that I am not even a Darna fan. Maybe I just enjoy the nostalgia and novelty behind it. Though I reasonably enjoy the acting in the seventies. Fairly slow and predictable but can still be digested without the help of any liquid. With the seventies having the bombardment of local films, a movie like this can tell that this was actually immortalized and currently sold to the public meaning a few or a lot of people could’ve clamored for such film, though this point greatly contradicts to my earlier statement, my apologies. But I am sticking to my own disagreement. It would’ve been nice if this film garnered cult status. You can really see the similarities of the villains of this film versus the villains in Zsazsa Zaturnnah. It feels that the creator of Zaturnnah took something from this fantasy film and eventually understands that he or she could’ve paid homage to this movie. Such film is a definite for the Darna fan and anyone who adores screaming drag queen outfits and such…” – Pinoy Film Zealot (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)

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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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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Filmography: Pinagbuklod ng Pag-ibig (1978)

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Basic Information: Directed: Leonardo L Garcia; Story, screenplay: Joeben Miraflor; Cast: Romeo Vasquez, Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Tirso Cruz III, Jessica, Rudolfo Boy Garcia, Zandro Zamora, Odette Khan, Chito Guerrero, Rustica Carpio, Babette Villaruel, Estrella Kuenzler, Romnick Sarmenta, Mary Jane; Executive producer: Experidion Laxa; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Zossimo Corpuz; Film Editing: Edgardo Vinarao

Plot Description: Mina (Vilma Santos) is a commercial model struggling to provide financial assistance to her ill mother when she meets the arrogant painter Dino (Romeo Vasquez). He offers her to be a model for his work of art which she accepted. This has drawn them closer to each other until Mina learns of Dino’s past relationship that eventually becomes a hindrance to their budding romance. Meanwhile, Mina’s best friend Laura (Nora Aunor) has always been in love with Angelo (Tirso Cruz III). However, due to their parent’s rivalry and Angelo’s mother coercing him to become a priest, they separated. During this time, Laura is raped by her long-time suitor which resulted to unwanted pregnancy. Years after, Angelo who fails to endure being away from his true love, Laura, returns to ask for her hand in marriage. Everything seems well for the couple until the real father of Laura’s first child comes back. Angelo is overwhelmed with jealousy that he starts to ruin the picture-perfect family they had before. Find out how the two friends will resolve their trouble relationships in this classic film you’ll never forget.

Film Achievement: 1978 FAMAS Nomination Best Child Actor – Romnick Sarmenta

Film Review: “Sometime in the mid 70s, matinee idol Romeo Vasquez returned to the movie scene after a long absence, his movie career in limbo after his failed marriage with popular actress Amalia Fuentes. His teamup with Vilma Santos somehow rekindled and revived his career. Their first movie together, Nag-aapoy na Damdamin in 1976 turned out to be a big hit. Despite their age gap, reel and real life sweetheart, Romeo, 34 and Vilma, 23, soon became the hottest love team, doing one hit movies after another…” – Video 48 (READ MORE)

“…Romeo Vasquez is an oddity in Vilma’s life. Hindi akalain ng lahat na ang isang notorious playboy and balikbayan actor would capture the heart of the then elusive Ate Vi. Nagkaroon sila ng affair which lasted for more than a year. Kilala si Bobby sa pagiging bohemyo kaya naman walang kakilala si Ate Vi na bumoto sa aktor. Ate Vi was love struck at talagang na head-over heels in love. Nagsimula ang kanilang affair sa set ng kanilang pelikulang “Nag-aapoy na Damdamin”. True to this title, nagliyab silang dalawa at tunay ngang nag-apoy ang kanilang damdamin. May plano pa nga sila ni Bobby na magpakasal sa Europe. Talagang Ate Vi was ready to give up her life as an actress and would settle with the actor abroad. And with herb relationship with Bobby, nag-surface ang bagong Vilma Santos.Ate Vi realized that she cann’t sacrifice everything for love. Nagising siya sa katotohanan at nagkamali kung kaya nagdesisyon siyang kumalas sa bohemyong aktor…” – Willie Fernandez (READ MORE)

“…But it was with handsome actor Romeo Vasquez that Vilma Santos had her most controversial relationship. Romeo was the former husband of Philippine movie queen Amalia Fuentes. He and Vilma first paired in the movie Nag-aapoy na Damdamin (1976). It was also during this year that they became a couple. They made several movies together, all of which did well at the box-office. Vi and Bobby (Romeo’s nickname) became the most-talked about reel and real love team at the time. The relationship was always on the pages of showbiz magazines and tabloid entertainment section pages because of the intrigues and the personalities who got involved with them…” – Rommel R. Llanes (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Ikaw ay Akin (1978)

“Rex…anong gagawin mo? Ako anong gagawin ko? Ako ba ang nagpapagulo sa otherwise your perfect world?…sure? Rex ang problem ako hindi lang ako eh…si Teresita rin…nasasaktan ko na siya…anong gagawin ko iwasan kita eh de ako naman ang nasaktan? Shit! Bakit? Ewan…nahihiya nako kay Teresita at saka sa’yo eh!…Rex huwag mong sabihin yan, naiintindihan mo ba ako? I need your presence more than anything else. Sabi nila liberated woman raw ako, front lang, kalog raw, front din…alam mo namang kulang-kulang ako eh sinabi ko na sayo nun pa…ninenerbiyos ako kapag hindi kita kasama eh, baka dapuan ako ng kung ano diyan, bery-bery, typoid fever! Pakiramdam ko safe lang ako kapag nariyan ka eh…pag wala ka,huh, nagwawala ako parang manok takbo ng takbo wala namang ulo!…Rex, anong gagawin mo?” – Sandra

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Ishmael Bernal; Story: Jose Carreon; Cast: Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Christopher De Leon, Nick Romano , Ellen Esguerra, Zandro Zamora, Odette Khan, Charmie Benavidez, Ernie Zarate, Cris Vertido, Anton Juan, Sandy Andolong; Executive producer: Experidion Laxa; Original Music: The Vanishing Tribe; Cinematography: Sergio Lobo; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Mel Chionglo; Sound: Teddy Ramos, Rolly Ruta

Plot Description: Botanist, Tere’s (Nora Aunor) long stable relationship with business executive Rex (Christopher Deleon) was shaken when Sandra (Vilma Santos) came into their lives. A pill popping liberal career minded, Sandra made Rex’s monotonous life colourful and exciting. He later realized that both women complete his existence. – RV

An unusual story of three people caught in the unexplainable intricacies of love and need. The five year old relationship of Rex and Tere is put to a test as Sandra, the kooky, talented and aggressive designer rocks the picture perfect and peaceful relationship. The solid and unruffled engagement cracks as Rex is immediately smitten by Sandra’s dynamic persona. The film features the superstar team-up of award winning artists Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos and the drama king, Christopher de Leon. – Database of Philippine Movies

Ang ‘Ikaw ang Akin’ ay tungkol sa isang paboritong paKsa sa ating puting-tabing: ang trianggulo ng pag-ibig. Si Rex (Christopher de Leon) ay batambatang tagapamahala ng isang pagawaan ng dyipni. Limang taon na silang magkatipan ni Tere (Nora Aunor), isang dalubhasa sa paghahalaman. Mapayapa at maayos ang kanilang pagsasama hanggang makilala ni Rex si Sandra (Vilma Santos), isang designer. Nagsimulang magkaroon ng sigalot ang pagsasama nina Rex at Tere. Hindi makapagpasiya si Rex kung sino ang pipilijn sa dalawa na kapwa naging matimbang sa kanya. Sa huli, nataios ni Rex na ang pag-ibig at pag-aangkin sa isang nilalang ay isang masalimuot na damdaming hindi nararapat sarilinin ng isang tao lamang. – Manunuri

Tagalog movie’s traditional love triangle is told in a sophisticated, unconventional way. Stars three of the country’s younger superstars – Christopher de Leon torn between a quiet, conservative type played by Nora Aunor, and a contemporary “free spirit”, Vilma Santos. Excellent performances by the three principal players with fine support by Ernie Zarate, Ellen Esguerra, and Rene Requiestas. Earned the critics Urian nominations for best actress (Aunor and Santos), supporting actor (Zarate), screenplay (Jose N. Carreon), cinematorgraphy, editing, sound, direction and best picture. Urian awardees for best actor (De Leon), production design (Mel Chionglo) and musical score (Vanishing Tribe). Directed by Ishmael Bernal for Tagalog Ilang-Ilang. – Trigon Video

Film Achievement: 1978 Gawad URIAN Best Actor – Christopher De Leon; 1978 Gawad URIAN Best Music – “The Vanishing Tribe”; 1978 Gawad URIAN Best Production Design – Mel Chionglo; 1978 Gawad URIAN Nomination Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1978 Gawad URIAN Nomination Best Actress – Nora Aunor; 1978 Gawad URIAN Nomination Best Cinematography – Sergio Lobo; 1978 Gawad URIAN Nomination Best Director – Ishmael Bernal; 1978 Gawad URIAN Nomination Best Editing – Augusto Salvador; 1978 Gawad URIAN Nomination Best Picture; 1978 Gawad URIAN Nomination Best Screenplay – Jose Carreon; 1978 Gawad URIAN Nomination Best Supporting Actor – Ernie Zarate

Film Reviews: “…After 37 years, Ikaw Ay Akin becomes a materialist indictment of the patriarchal deceit cisgender passion must contend with, opening up the queerness that emerges from feminine confidence as zone of alternative feelings. And, of course, Nora still punctures the assault with an imperturbable will to punctuate the sentence, despite the adages of her time failing to utter competitive affection, convincing Vilma that the encounter isn’t just about female rivalry, but also masculine decadence…” – J. Pilapil Jacobo, Young Critics Circle Film Desk, 21 November 2015 (READ MORE)

“Ikaw ay Akin” is the latest addition to Ishmael Bernal’s continuing attempt to portray how people and relationships are at once simple and complex. It is also the most engaging local movie shown this year, once again proving that the marriage of commerce and art can be remarkably fruitful. Those who expect the film to be one of those triangles of the “Sapagkat Kami’y Tao Lamang” variety will be disappointed. Made with taste and finesse uncommon in Pilipino movies. “Ikaw” surveys the interactions of three people caught in the unexplainable intricacies of need and love.

Rex, the young executive of a jeepney-producing firm, has been going steady with Tere, a demure orchid expert, for five years. Theirs is the kind of self-satisfied relationship that results from along, unruffled engagement. That is until he meets Sandra. An artist-designer, Sandra is kooky, talkative, aggressive career girl who is also neurotic, chain-smoking, tranquilizer-gulping, phobia-laden product of a broken family. Rex is immediately attracted to Sandra’s seemingly boundless energy. Compared to her, Tere is a calm, reserved, efficient, level-headed woman who looks totally in control of herself.

The “menage-a-trois” is then sensitively laid out for viewers to look into the hurts and joys, hesitations and decisions, delights and agonies of each character. At film’s end nothing is really resolved. Most loyal viewers will be revolted by this ambiguity. To get their money’s worth, they feel they must be sure “kung kanino talaga napunta si Christopher, kay Nora ba o Vilma?” But Bernal is not so much concerned with fulfilling audience expectations than with putting across his message: that no one can totally, absolutely, fully own another human being. The best thing is to understand the needs of a person and love him according to his limitations. This is evident in the lines of Rex, whose character we completely grasp only as the film nears its conclusion. Rex tells Tere: “Kailangan ako ni Sandra hindi lamang sa pisikal kundi sa emosyonal din. Tulad ng pangangailangan ko sa iyo. Sa kanya, parang nagkaroon ako ng gamit. Kailangan ko kayong dalawa para mabuo ako.” To Sandra, he says later: “Si Tere, tinaggap nang hindi niya ako maaangkin nang buong-buo. Kung sasabihin mong nakuha mo nang buong-buo ang isang bagay, kulang pa rin.”

Unlike other superstar team-ups that fail to exploit the golden opportunity of pulling in sure audiences to watch a serious work, Bernal’s greatest achievement lies not so much in putting his three big stars together but in making use of them to lure their fans and followers intos eeing a mature, sensible film. And his cast serves Bernal very well. In the hands of a capable director, Christopher de Leon proves that his forgettable appearance in such odious films as “Topo-Topo Barega” and “Disco Fever” are mere lapses in judgment that do not entirely discredit his craft. He also shows enough gallantry by not getting into the way of his leading ladies, whose roles are undoubtedly more demanding than his. As the uptight Sandra, Vilma Santos has the script’s choicest, wittiest lines. She makes the most of them and succeeds in giving a fairly accurate portrait of an emotionally insecure young woman. And when she tells Rex: “sabi nila liberated ako, front lang. Kalog daw, front din. Alam mo namang kulang-kulang ako. Pag wala ka, magkakalat ako. Para akong manok, takbo ng takbo wala namang ulo.” She likewise handles her final breakdown exceedingly well. Nora has less lines but she nevertheless manages to conveys her emotions very effectively. In that family reunion-party which is so engrossed in gossip and banter, she remains so detached, speaking nary a word — a triumph for both Bernal and her. The hurt in her eyes continues to build up until that disrupted dinner scene where she rushes to her room and, unable to contain herself, finally cries. The most stable of the three, you could really believe her when she tells Rex: “Galit ako sa ‘king sarili, dahil sinasaktan mo na ako nang todo-todo pero lalo ka namang napapamahal sa akin.”

The film is greatly enhanced by Jose Carreon’s vibrant script, Mel Chionglo’s superb production design, the Vanishing Tribe’s fine musical score, and Augusto Salvador’s brisk editing (few scenes last longer than a couple of minutes). But the lion’s share of credit goes to Bernal. I particularly like his splendid use of meaningful pauses and oppressive silences, as in Sandra and Tere’s accidental first meeting at Rex’s house, Sandra’s soundless dinner with her father that leads to her breakdown, and the long, quiet ending scene where Sandra and Tere never say a word and yet succeed in finally communicating with each other. Our viewers are discomfited by this exhausting process, what with the underdeveloped tastes of our mass audience perpetuated by irresponsible irectors. But one fervently hopes for Bernal, who apparently believes he owes the audience his best even if they are more likely to love his third best more, that they would get the film’s message and, perhaps, even accept and like it. – Mario E. Bautista, Philippine Daily Express, 1978

“…Mas challenging ang role ni Ate Vi rito kumpara kay nora…mas magaganda ang mga dialogues ni Ate Vi na nakakatuwa at magaling ang pagkakadeliver niya ng mga linya. Sexy siya ha at magaganda ang mga damit na ginamit niya rito. Maigsi ang buhok na medyo curly. Bagay na bagay sa kanya. Komento ko lang ay medyo matinis pa ang boses ni Ate Vi rito…Ok din naman si Nora dito kaso nga gaya nga sabi ko, mas malaman ang role na napunta sa kanyang kumareng Vilma. Asiwa rin ako sa wig niya…teka naka wig nga ba siya rito na mahabang makapal? Di ko lang type ang pag-iyak ni nora…ewan ko ha pero wag naman sanang magagalit ang mga Noranians, medyo napapangitan talaga akong umiyak si Nora kahit noong bata pa ako. Pangit na pangit ako sa pag-iyak niya. Parang pinipilit niyang mag emote. Di rin ako sanay na nakikipaghalikan si Nora sa mga movies, sabagay bibihira naman talaga makipaghalikan si Nora sa mga screen partner niya at usually naman si Boyet ang kahalikan niya pero noong pinapanood ko ang halikan scene nila Nora at Boyet, parang naaasi-wa ako. Ewan ko ba…parang nakakadiring tignan ewan…upps, komento ko lang iyan ha…sa sine parang sa tingin ko ay di sabay ito kinunan sa tingin ko lang ay di sila magkaeksena rito bagamat pareho silang nasa sinehan. b) bahay scene – ang ikli ng pagsasama nilang dalawa rito na parang pinasabik ang mga manonood kung may iringan ba or acting sa acting ang magaganap, pero walang naganap na ganun! c) No Dialogue Scene – Grabe!! Ang galing ng eksenang ito. First time kong makanood ng ganitong ending…walang salitaan, sagutan, walang murahan, walang away, wala as in wala except labanan ng facial expression, eye acting ika nga. Kainis lang ang director na ito kasi pinaglaruan lamang ang imahinasyon ng mga manonood at ng mga Vilmanians-Noranians!!! huh… Mas gusto ko pa rin na marami sana silang eksena na magkasama…sayang!…” – Dream Forest, V magazine Nos. 7 2006

“…Makikita sa Ikaw Ay Akin ang dalawang magkaibang estilo ng pagganap na ipinamalas nina Nora at Vilma at kapwa akmang-akma ito sa buong katauhan ng mga karakter na kanilang ginampanan. Sino ang mas mahusay sa kanilang dalawa? Kani-kaniyang opinyon, depende sa mga nakapanood ng pelikula. Maraming nagsabing mas pinaboran daw ni Bernal si Vilma sa dahilang mas maramin itong mabibigat na eksena kaysa kay Nora, ngunit paano makakalimutan ang huling tagpo sa Ikaw Ay Akin kung saan mahabang katahimikan ang naging daan upang higit na magkaintindihan sina Tere at Sandra tungkol sa kanilang pag-ibig kay Rex. Kung totoong mas pinaboran ng direktor si Vilma ay nakabawi naman ito ng husto kay Nora pagdating sa nabanggit na eksena. Kakaiba din ang husay na ipinamalas ni Christopher de Leon, maaring alam niyang ang Ikaw Ay Akin ay pelikula ng dalawang malalaking aktres kung kaya tama lamang ang bigat ng pagganap na ipinamalas ng aktor sa papel ni Rex. Napagwagihan ni Christopher ang Pinakamahusay Na Pangunahing aktor mula sa Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino nang sumunod na taon samantalang kapwa nakatanggap ng nominasyon bilang Pinakamahusay Na Pangunahing Aktres sina Nora at Vilma sa Ikaw Ay Akin ngunit kapawa sila natalo ni Beth Bautista para sa kanyang mahusay na pagganap sa Hindi Sa Iyo Ang Mundo, Baby Porcuna. Hindi matatawaran ang tagumpay ng mga manlilikhang bumuo sa Ikaw Ay Akin na nagtaas ng kalidad ng dramatikong pelikulang Pilipino, nagturong umintindi ng husto sa damadamin ng mga taong tunay na nagmamahalan.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

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