The Liberator

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday March 10, 2015

The Liberator

Cohen Media brought the biopic of South American freedom fighter Simn Bolvar to U.S. screens last year. Now the company's home release arm has prepared a Blu-ray edition of "The Liberator."

The film, written by Timothy J. Sexton and directed by Alberto Arvelo, traces the life of the wealthy young Venezuelan nobleman from the age of 18 - when he fell in love during a visit to Spain and the court of Fernando, the future King of Spain - to his astonishing victories in South America, driving the Spanish out and uniting disparate populations in the process, to his death in 1830. The film depicts Bolvar's end in a way that flatly contradicts the official story that he succumbed to tuberculosis - a deviation from the historical record that the filmmakers, in a special feature, say they expect to be controversial.

dgar Ramrez plays Bolvar with immense physical presence, but he also brings the character the intellectual and emotional brilliance he needs to carry the film. Ramrez is already a star in his native Venezuela; in a just world, this role would propel him to international stardom. He commands the screen, whether playing opposite actors like Danny Huston (who plays moneyman Torkington, a fictional Englishman with a financial interest in Bolvar's success) or screen beauties like Mara Valverde (who plays his wife, Maria) and Juana Acosta (who portrays a later love interest, the tough, smart, and capable Manuela Senz).

Bolvar's military campaigns were geographically huge, and the film looks suitably big and sweeping; modern CGI techniques provide period locales and details when necessary, but this doesn't look like an over-done effects film. Some of the movie's sequences have a "highlights reel" feel about them, the result of trying to give some sort of account of the enormity of Bolvar's ongoing struggle for freedom across America's southern continent, and while it's understandable that the filmmakers resorted to this, it also feels somewhat out of place against cinematographer Xavi Gimnez's epic-worthy composition and the story's grand scope.

The Blu-ray includes a detailed Making Of featurette that delves into the story, the music (by composer Gustavo Dudamel, who is also the music director of the Simn Bolvar Symphony Orchestra), the cast, and the production. Dudamel, who also serves as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, provides a brief introduction to the film, a greeting that was made for the film's showing at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

This film is a corrective to what was, until now, an oversight in world history: The breathtaking achievements of a military powerhouse who sought not to conquer, but to liberate.

"The Liberator"




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Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.