Thursday, October 07, 2004

More on Imelda:

The editing is deft and Ramona Diaz has the knack for choosing choice bits of stock footage to flesh out the life and times of Imelda Marcos. This never becomes a personal quest for Diaz however (unlike the work of a certain overweight white American filmmaker with huge political axes to grind).

Imelda Romauldez Marcos is given plenty of opportunities to exonerate or damn herself in candid testimonies. If her Ptolemaic rationalisations -- her theories of "beauty" and "order" complete with enneagram-like symbols, her insistence that there has never been any human rights abuses in the Philippines, her explaining away the fact that she and Ferdinand Marcos had separate bedrooms -- collapse under their own implausibility, this is hardly the director's fault.

Imelda Marcos's own self-perception is a combination of a messianic complex, monarchical tendencies and beauty pageant glamour all propped up by a stunning, even child-like, lack of self-awareness. The extent to which her vilification is justified however, is up to the audience to decide.

Diaz also presents her rise to power as a product of Filipino society even as Imelda condoned the abuses and tyranny of her husband's regime (as well as perpetrating a few herself it seems). Imelda, ironically enough, remains popular among the Filipino poor despite her blemished past and the fact that in concrete terms she has not really done much for them at all. The audience is invited to draw their own conclusions about how polities view their politicians, in addition to pondering Imelda's life beyond the confines of that infamous shoe collection.

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