Nov 10
CINEMATIC TRADITIONS by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Mon, Nov 10, 2008

For those who were around during the heydays of Philippine movies, there’s no denying that we were treated to the so-called cinematic traditions.

Foremost in the traditions is the invention of the words “bida” and “kontrabida.” From the Spanish word vida to mean life, the bida is the life or the hero of the movie and the kontrabida is the antithesis of the bida. Another common thing is the phrase “the end” which is normally seen at the end of a movie. For some other phrases, we got used to seeing “now showing” in the newspaper ads. The phrase “last day” if coupled with “first day” would mean a flop in the box office.

For the cast, stereotyping is prevalent. Although the “bigotilyo image” as a bad guy had already been “de-exclusivized” by Joseph Estrada, Jess Lapid, Ramon Revilla, et al, the moustache still remains to be the trademark of a kontrabida.

Another unpleasant and illogical stereotyping of the kontrabida is in the depiction of a gang or syndicate involved in kidnapping or grave crimes. The anti-hero gang is always housed in a big warehouse where you see them playing cards while drinking and smoking. And in case the hostage or kidnapped is the bida, expect the kontrabida gang, all of them except for the big boss, to be stupid enough so the hostage would be able to escape. This syndrome of “trying to fool” the audience is still prevalent in tv soaps.

And speaking of logic, some writers and directors have their science wrong, obvious that their line of thinking is greatly influenced by cinematic traditions. How many times have we seen a character igniting gasoline with a cigarette? There was one movie by Sylvester Stallone where he was walking on a street wet with gasoline coming from the car of his enemies—Stallone threw his cigarette on the gasoline-wet road surface.

In a recent episode of a TV soap of a big network, there was a cameo role by a quicksand. The said quicksand was around 2 or 3 meters in diameter and only the writer knows how deep it was. The kontrabida in the person of Cherry Pie Picache was supposedly eaten by the quicksand. Come to think of it, is there really a quicksand that could eat a person alive? Even in faraway Africa, a quicksand is only knee-deep and sinking in a quicksand was proven to be only a myth.

How about an action movie where the hero is to save the heroine who is dangling on the side of the building? How many times have we seen the scene where the hero grabs the heroine by the hand and, after some dramatic dialogue, successfully lifts the heroine to safety just using one hand. In real life, only an acrobat or a gymnast could do that feat.

Being the tool of the stuntman, the “jerk” is oftentimes overused. In a fistfight, the one hit will exhibit a jerk. Maybe this is pardonable especially if the protagonists are both muscled and able-bodied. But how does science explain the jerk when hit by a bullet?

Scenes of hugging is very common. Why is it that when bad news comes the characters embrace each other? And when good news arrives, the characters again embrace each other. So if the situation is very bad or if the situation is very good, expect some hugging and embracing. Perhaps the scriptwriters are very physical persons when it comes to their affections.

Another display of uncalled for emotion is the unfolding drama before the killing or before the dying. It is not an unusual scene where the kontrabida is aiming the gun at the bida, or vice versa, and before pulling the trigger you hear a kilometric dialogue filled with grudges and regrets. Sometimes it gives me the impression that the gun causes the person to be emotional.

For the suspense, establishing a deadline is always testing the audience’s sensibilities. Expect the time bomb to be defused in exactly one second before it explodes. Rescue comes just in the nick of time before the kontrabida pulls the trigger. But worst scenario of all is a wedding scene where the hero comes right in the middle of exchanging vows to snatch the bride from the kontrabida groom.

An email I received is trying to be funny with his observations of the peculiarities of the movies. I guess that list is worth sharing.

1. Sasayaw sa likod ng puno ng buko pag nasa beach yung scene. Alternate pa ‘yung mga ulo nila.
2. ‘Yung kontrabida yayakap sa bida, sabay taas ng kilay at ngingisi.
3. Uuwi ang bida na may dalang pancit sa kanyang nanay na si Anita Linda. Tatawagin nito ang mga bata para kumain, at kakamustahin ng bida ang pag-aaral habang kumakain ng pancit. Biglang may titigil na sasakyan sa harap ng bahay at pauulanan ng bala ang pamilya! Mamamatay si Anita Linda, at sisigaw ang bida ng “Inaaay!” at mangangakong ipaghihiganti ito.
Moral lesson: Ang pansit nagdadala ng malas…nakamamatay
4. Pag may magkaribal na babae, yung mabait deretcho ang buhok at may bangs. Yung salbahe, laging kulot.
5. Sa pinoy action movies, ang bida hindi nauubusan ng bala.
6. Sa pinoy action movies, kapag tumakbo ang bida, sa lupa lahat ang tama ng bala ng kalaban.
7. Kapag may angry mob na pupunta sa bahay-kubo ng manananggal, si Vangie Labalan ang laging lider.
8. Alam mong moment of truth na ng bida kapag sinabi na niya ‘yung title ng pelikula.
9. Ang tawag ng kontrabida sa mga goons niya, “Mga bata.”
10. ‘Yung nakababatang kapatid ng bida habang naglalaro ng bola,mabibitawan at mapupunta sa gitna ng kalsada. Tapos may darating na sasakyan, tapos itutulak siya ng bida. ‘Yung bida naman ang nasa gitna ng kalsada. Biglang may sasakyang darating. Ang bida, iko-cross lang niya arms niya covering his face tapos sisigaw ‘yung kapatid ng ‘kuyaaa!’ … Next scene nasa ospital na sila. Simula na ng drama.
11. Kapag bakbakan, hindi nasasaktan ang bida, pero umaaray siya pag ginagamot na siya ng leading lady, at kasunod na ang love scene.
12. Kapag sinabi ng kontrabida ang masama niyang plano sa bida, ang sasabihin ng bida: “hayop ka!”
13. Ang bidang babae, pag katulong ang role, siguradong magiging anak ng amo niya sa ending.
14. Ang nanay ng mayaman laging may pamaypay na pangmayaman, at ang nanay ng mahirap laging naka-duster.
15. Ang hideout ng kontrabida, parating mansion na may chicks sa pool.
16. Ang mga bida sa drama, pag nakatanggap ng masamang balita, laging may pinto sa likod nila para puwede silang sumandal habang nag-i-slide dahan-dahan pababa, tapos todo iyak with matching uhog.
17. Pag di nahuli ng mga goons ang bida, sasabihin ng boss sa kanila, “Mga inutil!”
18. Laging nakakapulot ng baril na may bala ang bida kapag kinakailangan niya.
19. Laging mas maganda ang yayang bida kesa sa kontrabidang anak ng amo niya.
20. Pag ang ending ng movie ay song and dance number sa beach o resort,ang huling frame, tatalon ang buong cast… sabay freeze.

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