IBONG ADARNA (1941)
Article 5239 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Vicente Salumbides
Featuring Mila del Sol, Fred Cortes, Ester Magalona
What it is: Epic fantasy
A prince embarks on an adventure to find a magical bird to cure his father, but his evil brother may have other plans…
This is the earliest movie I’ve seen from the Philippines, and though some of the opening credits are in English, the copy I found was in Filipino/Tagalog without English subtitles. This wasn’t a big problem at first; the story is from a fifteenth century novel, and the production gives it the feel of an Arabian Nights story, and the first half (the quest for the bird) is easy enough to follow. The second half is much more obscure, but it amounts to a second quest which involves the hero having further adventures and meeting several princesses and having to decide which one to marry. I found a summary of the novel on Wikipedia, and it appears the movie doesn’t quite follow the novel closely during this section. There’s the magical bird, a fight with a giant, several magical acts, and a musical number involving miniature people to add to the fantastic elements. The movie is somewhat similar to Bollywood productions in its use of music, and some of these moments are high points in the production. Overall, I found it a big long and dull, though this may have a lot to do with not being able to follow the dialogue.