Salvadore's Oscar Romero (Raul Julia), a gently spoken yet towering pillar of strength, makes the remarkable personal transformation from humble, complacent priest to vocal, committed Archbishop and leader of the Salvadoran people. Speaking out against the death squads and the terror campaigns implemented by the government of the day to crush the growing rebel movement, Romero's stance is perceived as an act of treason by the prevailing government. As fellow priests are attacked and churches shut down across the country, Romero's peaceful stand against impossible odds and the bloody terror of the ever-present military junta is a display of his conviction. (Based on a true story.)
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Australian filmmaker John Duigan's heartfelt, passionate and compelling film about Oscar Romero is unashamedly partisan. It sides with human rights and justice, personal liberty and political freedom. Shame on him. It plays as a tribute to the man, and justifiably so. Romero's canonisation is in the works. But for film audiences, the question is not about his unquestionable credentials as a hero, but the credentials of the film.
Duigan's multi award winning talent is also unquestionable (as are the talents of the many other Aussies on the film). Winter of Our Dreams, Flirting and The Year My Voice Broke are just three of his celebrated films. But if I have a criticism of this film it's about the very thing that also makes it so compelling: bias. This makes the film seem simplistic, when it isn't.
The storytelling is clear and focused, the screenplay is beautifully realised and Raul Julia is excellent as Romero.
My other criticism is to do with context. There is a political context to this biopic that needs more exposition, even though I understand it's about a man, a character. But that character undergoes change, which is one of the film's main points. It is also pertinent that we should see the events portrayed in the film in a broader, globally relevant context.
Those reservations aside, Romero is a powerful reminder that there is no difference between dictatorships of the Left or the Right.
The film was released in Australian cinemas in 1989. It is now available on DVD, for the first time.
Published May 9, 2013
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ROMERO: DVD (M)
CAST: Raul Julia, Richard Jordan, Ana Alicia, Eddie Velez, Alejandro Bracho, Tony Plana, Harold Gould, Lucy Reina, Al Ruscio, Tony Perez, Robert Viharo, Harold Cannon-Lopez
PRODUCER: Ellwood E. Kieser
DIRECTOR: John Duigan
SCRIPT: John Sacret Young
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Geoff Burton
EDITOR: Frans Vandenburg
MUSIC: Gabriel Yared
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Roger Ford
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
DVD RELEASE: May 3, 2013