Jose Rizal (film)

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Jose Rizal

The film that is worth a record-breaking budget in Philippine movie history.

Jose Rizal movie poster.jpg
Jose Rizal movie poster
Directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Produced by GMA Films
Written by Ricky Lee
Jun Lana
Peter Ong Lim
Starring Cesar Montano
Joel Torre
Jaime Fabregas
Gloria Diaz
Gardo Versoza
Pen Medina
Mickey Ferriols
Music by Nonong Buencamino
Cinematography Rody Lacap
Editing by Jess Navarro
Manet Dayrit
Distributed by GMA Films
Release date(s) June 12, 1998 (as part of Filipino Centennial celebrations)
December 25, 1998 (theatrical release)
Running time 178 min
Country Philippines
Language Tagalog, Spanish
Budget P 80,000,000 (estimated)
IMDb profile

Jose Rizal is a three-hour epic on the life and struggles of poet and patriot Jose Rizal, the national hero and martyr of the Philippines, played by Cesar Montano. Directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya, this is GMA Films' entry to the 1998 Metro Manila Film Festival. It is considered as one of the biggest budgeted films in Philippine movie history with a record of P80-million.

Jose Rizal is biographical drama by GMA Films, directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya in the year 1998. It was also GMA’s entry to the 1998 Metro Manila Film Festival, nominated and won for many awards. The f ilm depicts the life of the national hero of the Philippines, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, from his childhood with Paciano, his college year in Ateneo, to his untimely death in Bagumbayan. It stars Cesar Montano as Dr. Jose Rizal, together with a highly-acclaimed cast including Jaime Fabregas, Pen Medina, Gardo Versoza, and Joel Torre who played a familiar role of Crisostomo Ibarra.

The film was dubbed as the most spectacular and "controversial" Philippine film epic because of its record-breaking 80-million budget. It was also considered as one of the biggest, finest and most successful historical films, both commercially and artistically ever made in the history of Philippine cinema. The film won several prestigious awards and has also premiered at several well-known film festivals around the world including the Berlin International Film Festival in 1998 and has also won as the 2nd runner-up in the Audience Award of the Toronto Filmfest.

Imprisoned in Fort Santiago under the abusive Spanish colonization, José Rizal (Cesar Montano) was approached by a young uneducated indio asking the importance of education during his life. Meanwhile, in Balintawak, Andrés Bonifacio (Gardo Versoza) and his fellow secret organization of Katipunan, commenced the uprising against the tyranny created by the Spaniards by tearing their cedula as a sign of Spanish slavery.

Soon, a first lieutenant of the Artillery, Luis Taviel de Andrade (Jamie Fabregas), visited Rizal. Taviel de Andrade did not waste time to study carefully Rizal's case. In just a short period of time, Rizal and Taviel captured each other's sympathy and eventually became friends as they had usual meetings in Rizal's cell in Fort Santiago. Taviel was even able to celebrate Christmas with Rizal in the cell where they drank pan get and sang together.

After Christmas, Rizal was sent to Royal Audiencia (the colonial court of appeal) to hear the trial against him. Soon after, the magistrates decided to condemn him under firing squad on the 30th of the morning in Luneta.

At the night before the execution, Rizal hallucinates, seeing his alter ego-protagonist Simoun of his novel El Filibusterismo tempting the author to change the climax of the story.

On the morning of the execution, his kin received a small alcohol stove (not a gas lamp as commonly portrayed) from his cell containing the last poem "Mi Ultimo Adios." Stopping at the place of execution facing the rising sun, Rizal asked the authorities for a last request as he faces the firing squad but the request is denied. Calm and without haste, he changed his request to save his head during execution and the captain agrees. At the moment the shooting squad points at his back, he readily uttered his final words: Consummatum est. (It is done.)

After the execution, members of the Katipunan had ambushed a Spanish military company somewhere in Manila, completely catching the Spanish forces off guard and seized their mounts, munitions and their rifles. They had also captured a church and executed a friar in an act of vengeance for the execution of Rizal. Bonifacio and his top generals met in their headquarters to plan a new offensive seeking to capture 10 towns in a duration of 1 week from the Spanish. Rizal's picture can be seen at the background of his headquarters.



Awards and Nominations

Metro Manila Film Festival

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor - Cesar Montano
  • Best Director - Marilou Diaz-Abaya
  • Best Supporting Actor - Jaime Fabregas
  • Best Supporting Actress - Gloria Diaz
  • Best Screenplay - Ricardo Lee, Jun Lana and Peter Ong Lim
  • Best Original Story - Ricardo Lee, Jun Lana and Peter Ong Lim
  • Best Cinematography - Rody Lacap
  • Best Editing - Jess Navarro and Manet A. Dayrit
  • Best Sound - Albert Michael Idioma of Road Runner
  • Best Production Design - Leo Abaya
  • Best Special Effects - Mark Ambat of Optima Digital
  • Best Makeup - Denni Yrastorza Tan
  • Best Musical Score - Nonong Buencamino
  • Best Movie Theme Song - Nonong Buencamino for "Awit ni Maria Clara"
  • Best Festival Float
  • Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award

FAMAS Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor - Cesar Montano
  • Best Director - Marilou Diaz-Abaya
  • Best Supporting Actor - Jaime Fabregas
  • Best Cinematography - Rody Lacap
  • Best Editing - Jess Navarro and Manet A. Dayrit
  • Best Movie Theme Song - Nonong Buencamino for "Awit ni Maria Clara"
  • Best Musical Direction - Nonong Buencamino
  • Best Production Design - Leo Abaya
  • Best Screenplay - Ricardo Lee, Jun Lana and Peter Ong Lim
  • Best Special Effects - Rolando Santo Domingo

Gawad Urian Awards

  • Best Direction - Marilou Diaz-Abaya
  • Best Cinematography - Rody Lacap
  • Best Music - Nonong Buencamino
  • Best Production Design - Leo Abaya
  • Best Sound - Albert Michael Idioma
  • Best Supporting Actor - Jaime Fabregas

Star Awards

  • Movie of the Year
  • Actor of the Year - Cesar Montano
  • Director of the Year - Marilou Diaz-Abaya
  • Supporting Actor of the Year - Jaime Fabregas
  • Adapted Screenplay of the Year - Ricardo Lee, Jun Lana and Peter Ong Lim
  • Editor of the Year - Jess Navarro and Manet A. Dayrit
  • Musical Scorer of the Year - Nonong Buencamino
  • Production Designer of the Year - Leo Abaya
  • Sound Engineering of the Year - Albert Michael Idioma

Critical Reception

Jose Rizal is easily considered as one of the most successful films of all time. A biographical film, its success is highlighted by the fact that it occurred during the time were historical films became notorious flops. The film gained 5 stars in MSN entertainment, 7.2 stars out of 10 in, 4 out of 5 stars in, 88% likers from also gave a favorable response to the film’s efforts, stating that the “production is crisp to the point of sterility, with vet helmer Marilou Diaz-Abaya employing an almost stylized tone of exaggerated melodrama” which includes the B&W flashback sequences to keep the connect-the-dots narrative moving briskly. Viewers from also saw the film mostly in positive ways, considering Jose Rizal as a “top-notch non-Hollywood film.” Cesar Montano is also commended for his hard work and dedication in playing Rizal. Further reviews divulged that Montano cuts a “dignified figure as the national icon’.

Box Office Perfomance

Since its release on Independence day, Jose Rizal scored a record-breaking P180 million with the films budget of 80 million pesos. With these stats, Jose Rizal’s legacy in the Philippine cinema is cemented as one of the biggest films in history. Its financial success is reflective of the numerous awards it had received and nominated for in Metro Manila film festival, FAMAS, and Gawad Urian Awards.

Additional Facts

Jose Rizal was produced to commemorate the 1998 Philippine Centennial, which is dated from 18 months after Rizal's death by firing squad at age 35. It was released in June 12, 1998 for the said purpose and again on December 25, 1998 for its theatrical release. In improving the movie’s consistency, Director Marilou Diaz-Abaya, a University of the Philippines film graduate, enlisted the aid of three known UP professors as screenplay consultants - Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Dr. Randy David, and Asst. Prof. Danton Remoto. Its success in the award ceremonies is one of the biggest, winning 11 FAMAS trophies, one of the only two films to win with the said number of awards. The first one to win such numbers was Tinimbang Ka Nugnit Kulang, directed in 1974.

In regards with Cesar Montano, he agreed to scale down his talent fee which was reported to be 5 million pesos per movie. He also cancelled everything else on his schedule to concentrate on training for his role. His tutorials involved languages including Spanish, French, German and the dead language Latin. He also trained in fencing, painting, drawing, sculpture, and other skills that the national hero excelled in.


- Janelle Tangonan Anderson

- Eddie Cockrell

- Francis Cruz


  • IMDB. (accessed on October 07, 2008).
  • Reflections of Asia. (accessed on October 07, 2008).
  • “Jose Rizal” MSN Entertainment [1] (Accessed August 21, 2011)
  • “Jose Rizal: review by Eddie Cockrell” Variety: Film Reviews [2] (Accesed August 20, 2011)
  • “Jose Rizal(1998)” Internet Movie Database (IMBD) [3](Accessed August 20, 2011)
  • “Jose Rizal(1998)” Movie Zen [4] (Accessed August 21, 2011)
  • “Jose Rizal” Rotten Tomatoes, [5](Accessed August 21, 2011)



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