Outside of Hollywood it is well known that movies do not have to follow certain well established rules. We know this at least since we saw movies like “Boyhood“ or “Into the Void“. But the way the movie “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis“ (or “A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery“ in English) does so has not been seen at Berlinale for a long time.

The eight hours long epic by director Lav Diaz depicts the history of the struggle for freedom in his homeland of the Philippines. The narrative is loosely hold together by the question for the individual’s role for the destiny of a nation. At first, it follows the widow of Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro (a Philippine freedom fighter) which leads her into the deepest depths of the Philippine jungle.

As the movie does not try to be a historically accurate depiction of the events that lead to Philippine freedom, it tries to show a more subjective version of those incidents. Thus it shows a weird mixture of local mythology, historic facts and the story of a few involved individuals which help to tell the story of a revolution and the people which it swallows.