Mario O'Hara as Berto the Leper in You Were Weighed and Found Wanting
Coverage continues. Now Michael Guillen in The Evening Class has devoted an extensive and very detailed post on the Lino Brocka retrospective there, focusing on Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (You Were Weighed and Found Wanting, 1974).
'Course, that he quotes me extensively is a more than flattering kindness.
Throw in the observation that O'Hara in an interview I did some years back claimed that other than a story outline the script was all his work (could be, drawing from all the sources I mentioned, including Brocka's life, with which he is familiar). And that his work there as a supporting actor there (on paper; I regard him as a lead the way Al Pacino's role in The Godfather is a supporting role that's really a lead) is just amazing, a great and moving performance, easily the film's highlight.
But it's really an ensemble film with everyone doing admirably, down to the drinking buddies at the local sari-sari (grocery) store.
I'd throw in the photography of Joe Batac, which is clean and simple. The regrettable reddish-pink tones that occur thanks to the print's color degradation I submit actually adds a lovely patina to the film--marking it more than ever as a '70s film, now that many Filipino films of this period look this way. Plus Lutgardo Labad's folk-instrument music (using, I suspect a specially shaped bamboo--that I've actually picked up and played, once--to create that striking Jew's Harp sound) sounds dissonant, beautifully barbaric.
Michael G. asked me a question and I think it's interesting how certain issues come out thanks to the question--to quote in full:
Michael G: In the scene where Berto first takes Kuala into his makeshift home, he asks her: "Is your name really Kuala?" and--perhaps I'm making too much of it--but I wondered why he would ask that? Is "Kuala" a nickname of sorts?
NV: Not that I'm aware of. He just isn't aware of her as a person--is like someone meeting his blind date for the first time. He doesn't know her as a person, or look at her as a person.
It's very possibly rape--the woman is hardly fully competent to consent to sex (at least as far as I remember with regards to legal definitions of rape). Basically the rapist grows a conscience and comes to care for his victim. You see this again in O'Hara's own masterpiece, Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God, 1976).
Might add that looking around, the name 'Kuala' might have some significance, other than being an unusual name for a Filipina, means in both Malay and Indonesian 'estuary,' that muddy region of a river where fresh water merges with salt water. Certainly Kuala in the film might be considered by the men in town 'muddy' or unclean goods, and that she represents a mix of innocent and hedonist (a hedonist rendered innocent by insanity), age and youth, mother and whore.