Actors: Danny Huston, Edgar Ramirez, Maria Valverde
Director: Alberto Arvelo
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Studio: Cohen Media Group
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Run Time: 119 minutes
For a historical epic and biopic, The Liberator feels disappointingly unimpressive. Even those unfamiliar with South American history are likely to find few surprises within this narrative, though that often does not detract from the film’s impact. Those looking for a bit more depth in their revolution narratives may be better off looking to Steven Soderbergh’s Che, the Danish Flame & Citron from Ole Christian Madsen, or even the battle for Algerian independence within Rachid Bouchareb’s Outside the Law. For those specifically interested in the life of Simón Bolívar, The Liberator offers a fairly polished and straightforward representation of this journey, even if it feels like a watered down version of what could have been a better film.
Perhaps part of the problem is the inconvenience that comes with telling a true story. If the film drags in areas or seems narratively uneven, this is a necessary side effect of being shackled to facts. The alterative is artistic license, which caused critical skewering of many of 2014’s biographic narratives. Bolívar may have fought over 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in
America and rode over 70,000 miles on horseback through this
process, but these moments are less the focus of the film than the journey
within the man. We watch his transformation from childhood to adult (played by
Édgar Ramírez), and the losses he suffered to get there, followed by a period
of bourgeois indulgence before an ultimate life of banishment forces him into
the revolution completely. There are battle sequences in the film, but they
mostly just seem to be peppered in to break up the ultimately more significant
scenes of politics and maneuvering. This is more a film about war than battles.
To say that The Liberator is episodic in its narrative would be an understatement. Each of these individual segments have moments within them that work, though there is a fluidity missing from the overall film. Despite memorable moments, they don’t seem to be working together to create an overall presentation. In short, it reads like bullet-point best-of moments from Bolívar’s life. The Blu-ray release includes an introduction by Gustavo Dudamel, who created the music for the film. There is also a making-of featurette and the theatrical trailer.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 5/10
Special Features: 4.5/10