By Ron Merk
The danger with most film biographies is the inability for the filmmaker to truly understand that the subject of the film was more than an image, an idol or a legend as is often the case in films about historic figures. Only recently have we seen a portrait of Abraham Lincoln where he’s portrayed as having doubts, human feelings, fears and doubts.
There have been a number of films about Simon Bolivar, but they presented historical facts, events, and rarely anything about the man, himself. That is not the case with Edgar Ramirez’ truly revealing portraits of Boliver. I am going to limit my review of this film to Ramirez.
Ramirez has appeared in many films, playing both villains and heros with equal gusto and imagination. He seems to change from film to film, like a chameleon, taking on the surroundings of the story and physically transforming his face and body to fit in perfectly with the ambiance and atmosphere in which the character exists. From the terrorist in “Carlos” to the Paz, the CIA assassin in “The Bourne Ultimatum” to Ares in the fantasy film “The Wrath of the Titans,” Ramirez has an uncanny ability to fit into the part and the genre in which he is performing. There are very few modern actors who have this ability.
As Bolivar in The Liberator, we see a man who rose to the top of the world, literally in the mountains, and the bottom of despair as he learns how the “game is played” by the international power brokers. The scene with Danny Huston as the banker is revealing, and shows the courage of both Bolivar and the actor playing him, and their guile in dealing with the adversaries.
Ramirez is not a movie star in the old sense, but he is one of the finest actors working on the international movie scene. Fluent in Spanish, German, French, Italian and English, he moves from film to film, country to country, role to role with the grace of a dancer, the mind of a politician, and the natural good looks that allow him to charm the audience or make them hate him.
Ramirez is an actor to watch….in any project in which he works. He has true star power and one day, I think he will be known as the greatest screen actor of our time.
Some background information on the story and the film and the director:
Simón Bolívar fought over 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in South America riding over 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of Alexander the Great. His army never conquered – it liberated. THE LIBERATOR is a Cohen Media Group release, runs for 119 minutes, is in Spanish, English and French with English subtitles, and is MPAA Rated R for war violence, including some grizzly images and for sexuality/nudity.
One of the key leaders in the colonial struggle for independence in Latin America, Simón Bolívar remains one of the regions most inspirational and influential figures to this day. THE LIBERATOR charts the story of the revolutionary leader’s impassioned fight for independence from Spain and the creation of a united South American nation. It includes the great stories of love and loss in his life, the political intrigue and drama following his ascension to power and his mysterious death.
THE LIBERATOR is the Venezuelan Entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar atthe upcoming 87th Academy Awards. It made its World Premiere at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.
About the director of the film, Alberto Arvelo:
Born in Venezuela, Arvelo has developed a cinematographic body of work recognized for the profound social and human burden of his characters and by the visual power of his films. Two of his most emblematic works, ONE LIFE AND TWO TRAILS (1997) and A HOUSE WITH A VIEW OF THE SEA (2001), form part of an exploration of the South American Andes. As a professor at the National School of Cinema in Mérida, Venezuela, Arvelo also initiated an original film movement known as “Cine Átomo,” focused on creating real opportunities for young Latin American directors. The concept stems from the idea of producing uncommon, ornate, reflective and humane movies with only essential crew and production components. The first movie produced using the mechanics of this movement was HABANA HAVANA (2004), directed by Arvelo. In 2010, Arvelo directed the stage portion of a multimedia opera of Cantata Criolla for the LA Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and starring Helen Hunt and Édgar Ramírez. His documentary TO PLAY AND TO FIGHT (2006), which premiered at the AFI Festival of Los Angeles, dives into the lives of several children in the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra System. TO PLAY AND TO FIGHT became the most viewed documentary in Venezuela. It was followed by another, DUDAMEL: LET THE CHILDREN PLAY (2010), which focuses on the propagation of El Sistema around the world and the rise of Dudamel as one of El Sistema’s most prominent musicians.