Related Movie: Ay Manuela 1976
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos 1976 free
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos 1976 free: Firstly, A woman falls in love with a Japanese soldier during the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines; the whole town turns against her.
Tatlong Taóng Walang Diyos (lit. Three Years Without God) is a 1976 Filipino period film directed by Mario O’Hara starring Nora Aunor, Christopher De Leon, and Bembol Roco.
The film, set during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines between 1942 and 1944, tells the story of Rosario (Aunor), a young schoolteacher engaged to be married to Crispin (Roco). Crispin leaves Rosario to fight the Japanese as a guerilla, and in his absence a Japanese-Filipino officer named Masugi (De León) rapes her.
Masugi later returns to Rosario apologizing for his act, bearing gifts of canned food and rice which Rosario at first refuses. Matters are complicated when Rosario’s father Mang Andoy (Mario Escudero) is arrested by the Japanese and Rosario reveals to Masugi that she is pregnant. Rosario must make a choice: accept Masugi’s proposal to make her his wife (saving her father and ensuring a safe and stable life for her child), or reject him and the baby they have conceived together.
What makes Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years without God), about the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines during World War II, such a great film? O’Hara’s style is thrillingly simple: each scene begins and ends like any other scene in a well-shaped drama. But there’s a quiet undercurrent that builds, sequence upon sequence, with the smoothness and power of a rising tsunami, until it pulls your feet out from under you, breaking high over your head, overwhelming you.
I can cite similar examples: Hemingway’s simple, sinewy prose, which (as he once described it) was like keeping an alcohol flame as low as possible, until it explodes. Or Jean Renoir’s films, which Tatlong Taong most resembles (if it resembles any film at all). Renoir and O’Hara (in Tatlong Taong at least) share several virtues.
An unassuming yet undeniably cinematic visual style (O’Hara’s shots are so good, yet serve the story so well, you might want to watch the film three times just to find out why they are good). An unerring sense for understated drama–you find yourself perched at the edge of your seat wanting to learn what happens next. And an amazing–Godlike, yet intimate–empathy for the people in their films.
That empathy is, I think, the source of Tatlong Taong’s greatness. Sympathy for wartime Japanese has always been in short supply, with the words “comfort women” and “wartime atrocities” being rattled about in Asian newspapers like so many closeted skeletons. The Chinese have no love for World War II Japanese; you just have to watch films like Farewell To My Concubine, or Red Sorghum (with its horrific flaying scene) to appreciate how little they are loved. Even the Americans have done their share of Japan-bashing, with films like Rising Sun and Black Rain.
There have been exceptions, mainly in American movies: Bridge On the River Kwai, Sayonara, the awful Come See the Paradise. There’s even one Thai film that featured a sympathetic Japanese soldier.
But Thailand and America were never conquered by Japan; they never tasted the pleasures of Japanese Occupation firsthand. Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos is unique in Philippine cinema–in all the world–as being the only film, made in a country once occupied by the Japanese, that treats those same wartime Japanese as human beings.
Not that the Japanese soldiers in Tatlong Taong are sweetened versions of the real thing: they are shown as killers and rapists, capable of performing all kinds of brutal acts. But they are also shown to be capable of regretting their acts; they are shown to be deserving of our sympathy–even of our love.
As an act of understanding, almost of forgiveness, this is totally unheard of. It could easily be seen as a mistake, a foolish gesture made out of weakness by one small, Asian nation to another, far more powerful one.
I don’t think so.
I could go on and on, talking about technique and story and historical context; I could talk about Vincente Bonus’ contribution to the production design (he was responsible for every accurate detail about wartime Philippines), or Conrado Baltazar’s glorious color photography, or Ms. Minda Azarcon’s lovely chorale music. But Filipino filmmaker Tikoy Aguiluz (Boatman, Rizal Sa Dapitan (Rizal in Dapitan), Segurista (Dead Sure)) sums it all up nicely with a simple formula: he measures a film’s greatness by the impact it had on him personally. By that standard, I think Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos is the greatest Filipino film ever made.
This movie tackles the story of Rosario, a teacher, who was raped by a Japanese- Filipino during the Japanese occupation in her small town in Laguna. She got pregnant and had to live with the prejudice of her town mates after her family accepted Masugi.
It was not long before Rosario accepted her fate, she bore her child and married Masugi. But when the war came to an end, she had to face again the fury of her town mate, and they were unforgiving.
The movie depicts the horror of war, the fear that it creates, the dilemma of the people trapped in the struggle to survive. But most of all, the movie tackles the love and aspirations of the three main characters, their faith and before the movie ends, hope.
This movie really surprised me, the story and script were superb. The pace was believable, Rosario falling for Masugi’s charm was not forced. You emphasize with the characters and their plights as they move through the three years of darkness ,without God. Christopher de Leon playing Masugi is also believable as the half Japanese born in Manila. I am glad he didn’t play a character who for example, is really a Japanese but just so happen to speak Tagalog fluently; a scenario not uncommon in other Filipino movies.
My only scene that didn’t go well is when the town folks cut Rosario’s hair. Yes , yes I get it but Nora’s face after her hair was cut was too funny and felt out of place. The music is a little redundant, playing the same song throughout the movie.
Overall,this movie is well made, worthy to classify this as a classic, and perhaps O Hara’s best movie of all time.
One of the greatest war films ever made by a third world auteur. Important and imposing. Very formally prodigious you can’t help noting, even as you dissipate all emotional and moral stake. Acute meditation on religious and racial paradox. O’Hara as a footnote on great Filipino filmmakers.
If a film were judged by the emotions it can provoke, this would be right at the top of any list. This was my first film by Mario O’Hara, and much like Lino Brocka, he seems to be naturally gifted with a sense of drama that can be piercing while being extremely human. Nora Aunor delivers one of the greatest performances I have seen as Rosario, a small town woman torn between love and loyalty.
The fateful story is set in the backdrop of a war-torn Philippines, over the three terrible years of Japanese occupation that the islands had to endure from 1942 to 1945. It is essentially a love triangle between Rosario, Crispin (a native who leaves to fight for the resistance), and Masugi (a half-Japanese half-Philippine soldier who is fighting for the Empire). The storyline plays out like a lot of other such tragedies that have been made but what sets this film apart is its execution. Top notch stuff from O’Hara.
The film takes its time to set up the story, we get to know the characters slowly but surely, and it is almost like we are drawn into their world and begin to understand the struggles of being occupied. Christopher de Leon does a fantastic job as Masugi, and his character is a fulcrum for the film. The futility of war is depicted through his eyes, his lines while the experience of it conveyed through Rosario’s tribulations.
The film tackles difficult topics like survival, loyalty, and patriotism and somehow manages to capture their complexities through a seamless, sweeping narrative. Another surprising element of this film is its stand on the Japanese – quite different from the general portrayal by countries who have suffered a Japanese occupation. Bold, and sensible. I would be interested to know if O’Hara faced any flak for it.
A must-watch, especially in our politically unstable world.
Three Years Without God portrays the collapse of the meta-narratives that have given our lives meaning prior. In this respect, it acts very much like the war it showcases. The second world war left people utterly lost. After all, how could life have any meaning amidst all the atrocity that just occurred?
The film posits this huge question with the extended audacity to give an actual answer. This is a late modernist work. Aware of what has come before and what has been lost (belief in People, Country, God), yet tackles it only with utter sincerity.
Those 3 things I mentioned are deconstructed in the 3 years. Shown through 3 main characters in 3 acts.
God has 3 faces and 0 of them are here. Yet, His absence is ever present. “Without God, everything is permitted”. This is Dostoevsky’s pessimistic warning, not Sartre’s celebration. I fail to recall a single celebratory moment within the film. It’s impressive how well managed the consistently dreadful tone of the film is. Every prayer is viewed with pity. Ironically, all of Rosario’s prayers come true for better or worse. Her loss of faith in country directly ties to loss of faith in God.
War footage seemed to mimic the wrath of God until we see at one point that even God seems powerless amidst the wrath of People.
The Philippines is at war with 3 countries: Japan, the U.S.A, and itself. There are biases with how our relationships with these countries are, then there is how those all collapse under the film. This may be the only Filipino portrayal of WWII that doesn’t actively put Japan in a negative light.
The U.S.A is revered like God by everyone and like God, it abandons them. I guess the only ones we can turn to now are our fellow countrymen, right? Well, maybe if they weren’t too busy being the main source of all that is horrible in the film. Their wickedness comes from country bias itself. They kill at the mere thought of interaction with the Other. Crispin is eager even after corruption for his country.
When asked why he favors the U.S. and despises Japan, he is lost. He is the first to admit the meaninglessness of life. His loss of faith in God directly ties to loss of faith in country.
The personified evidence that nationalism is not the virtue it is often regarded as delivers a speech to his Reich within the first scene. I must also bring up Slavoj Žižek’s reversal of Dostoevsky’s quote into “With God, everything is permitted”. This expresses how we may allow evil acts if tied to a transcendent cause.
Belief in God and country has caused man to do some of the most irrational and grandiose acts in history. Not to mention some of the most evil. God and country has been seen both as the end as well as the means toward what Nietzche thought was the end of everything: Power. Masugi highlighted this other branch of Nietzchean reading beside the more blatant Death of God.
He has lived by a common misreading of the Will to Power. He believes you have to be an ruthless animal in this world. He is resentful. He acts based on Appetite, only a fraction of the 3 part soul of Man that Plato theorized. It is only when he engages with the Logical part that his Spirit is recognized. Masugi did not act for religious or nationalistic reasons, just personal ones. Still, these can be misconstrued in to committing evil. True power is not power over another person or a country’s power over another country. It is power over one’s self.
Action made under these ideologies of religion and nation have to be grounded in how it affects people at the personal level. Exhibitions of grandiosity as it relates to these often become blind to why they were so important to us in the first place.
This is concluded by the final scene, changing the direction of the film towards something (although still damning) more instructional and thus maybe even encouraging.
For as much loss and hopelessness it depicts, Three Years Without God promotes more than just mere nihilism.
In the end, it serves propaganda for humanity’s ability to not only endure suffering but to combat it with love, love that suffering itself often kindles.
Brave and intelligent, confused yet dedicated. Tatlong Taóng Walang Diyos is not afraid to show the viewer the realities of a dark time, whichever side may it be interpretated from.
To shortly describe the film, it’s a well-made mixture of a twisted love story brought by the characters’ twisted fates, an emotional reminder of a past so corrupted, a question of patriotism, and an overarching inquiry on faith especially Catholicism.
“In a war, one should never think, one should never fear God, one should never be human. Only an animal lives long.”
One of the most excellent and thought provoking period drama films to ever grace the silver screen. Three Years Without God is Mario O’Hara’s magnum opus, a timeless classic and a strong testament to the unbelievable things a filmmaker can create when there is passion.
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos 1976 free full movie online
A Love Story
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God) starts on an ominous note: artillery and fire; corpses swept up by waves onto a beach; war and destruction. A narrator tells us that the three years during the Second World War when the Japanese occupied the country were “three years when there was no God.”
The story proper begins ‘in media res,’ in the middle of the action. Crispin (Bembol Roco) is at the town grade school looking for Rosario (Nora Aunor). He finds her in a little hut in the schoolyard, shaded by trees. Crispin wants to say goodbye–the Japanese are coming and he is joining the underground resistance.
The moment is important; in the few minutes they have together we need to know that Crispin and Rosario care for each other deeply, that Rosario is desolate at seeing him go. Writer-director Mario O’Hara handles the scene with restraint: there are no histrionics, no desperate declarations of eternal fealty.
Rosario is hurt and distant, Crispin gentle even when he understands that Rosario is beyond consolation. It’s Crispin’s understanding that shows the depth of the relationship: they know each other so well they’re inside each other’s heads. One senses instinctively what the other is feeling, and (a nice touch) this intimacy is less a source of pleasure than of acute pain.
The next few scenes are transitory: how Rosario and her family are abandoned by their terrified neighbors; how the Japanese steal their rice and pigs and chickens; how they are reduced to eating roasted sweet potato for dinner. When Crispin comes again for supplies and rest he is a blooded rebel, with friends. He tells Rosario in graphic detail what it feels like to kill a man. Rosario, disturbed, prays that God take care of Crispin–even at the expense of her own safety.
Enter Masugi (Christopher De Leon) and his doctor friend Francis (Peque Gallaga). Masugi’s a half-breed soldier–part Japanese, part Filipino; Francis is a Spanish mestizo. Masugi is lost and tired; he demands directions, and something alcoholic to drink. Rosario, angry at Masugi’s boorish behavior, demands that he leaves. Masugi is attracted to Rosario; being drunk and used to Filipino submission to Japanese military authority, he makes a pass at her. Rosario slaps him; offended, Masugi strikes her. Francis holds Rosario’s family at gunpoint while Masugi chases her down into the basement and rapes her.
It’s a familiar story with wartime Filipinos; the family’s young women taken aside by Japanese soldiers and brutally used. When Masugi comes back the next day and makes friendly overtures, we’re on Rosario’s side: how dare he take up where he left off? And how dare he look so sincere about it?
We eventually learn that Masugi is sincere: he helps her family, and he’s happy when he learns that she’s pregnant. Rosario’s family is won over by the canned goods and rice and well-meaning attempts to make amends, but Rosario refuses to forgive. He’s not just a rapist, he’s Japanese–the personification of everything she, her family, and every wartime Filipino fear and hate.
More, Rosario is committed to Crispin, and any sign of relenting on her part would mean betraying him. Rosario is cornered all around–on one side by her hatred of the Japanese in general and Masugi in particular, on the other by her family’s insistence that she accept him, on yet another by her growing attraction for the Japanese officer. She’s waging–bravely, as she does all things–a one-woman Resistance movement, except she’s less and less sure what to resist.
Sometimes her defiance takes her beyond the boundaries of common humanity. When her father is arrested in a shooting incident and Masugi gets him out, Rosario is angry. She doesn’t care if her father is safe; all she knows is that they’re deeper in Masugi’s debt. “Not once,” she declares when her mother chides her, “did I accept a gift from him.” Her mother looks down at her swollen belly and says: “you’re lying and you know it.” Rosario blinks as if slapped in the face.
Rosario’s dilemma is similar to what Huck Finn faced near the end of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, when Huck learns that his friend Jim has been captured and chained. Society taught Huck that it’s wrong to free slaves; should he go free Jim? Should Huck do something clearly wrong–willfully damn himself to hell, in effect–for the sake of friendship? Is Rosario ready to accept a Japanese officer–the conqueror and killer of so many of her people, the man who raped her?
The fiercest assault on Rosario’s resolve comes from an unexpected source. Francis has helped Rosario given birth; as she lies on bed resting, he sits beside her and talks–tells her what kind of man Masugi is, how his parents were killed inside a Filipino prison, how the boy had to make his way alone across chaotic Manila, to seek safety with Francis. Tells Rosario how war brutalized the youth, taught him not to think–simply act and fight, like an animal. Rosario and her child has changed the man; can’t she open up to him a little?
I don’t know what went into this scene–presumably Gallaga’s Tagalog was less than perfect (he is a Bacoleno, possibly more fluent in Spanish), and O’Hara must have seized upon this limitation and turned it to the scene’s advantage. Francis’ twisted Tagalog–his helpless groping, his determined careful need to say the right words to Rosario–is what makes the scene heartbreaking. O’Hara has hinted before at the close tie between the two men, but only now, between the awkward pauses in Francis’ speech, does the strength of their relationship shine through.
Art critic Jolico Cuadra claims that Francis and Masugi must have been intimates at one point. As proof he offers a scene where the two are urinating: friends look at each others’ penises and shyly compare sizes; ‘more than friends’ do not–they are already familiar with each other’s genitals. Fascinating claim that fits neatly into the scheme of the film but in a way beside the point. Francis and Masugi’s affection for each other is a variation on the film’s theme, and whether this affection was physically expressed or not isn’t half as important as the fact that Francis’ little speech moves Rosario, shows her how wrong she is to resist.
Perhaps Francis’s talk was the last straw; perhaps it’s the recurrent image of Masugi grinding away on top of her, whispering endearments. But something snaps in Rosario; she feels driven to resolve this conflict. The act proposed is brutal in its logic, extending her line of thinking to its ultimate and terrible conclusion. There must have been a moment, possibly while standing on the stone bridge, when Rosario looked back and saw the steps taken along the way–how valid they seemed, how reasonable and sane–in comparison to the monstrosity of what she is about to do.
And she backs down. Doesn’t have enough hate in her to go through with it. Strange how an act of acceptance and forgiveness can seem craven to the one committing it.
Rosario’s decision is the turning point of the film; from then on, she is on Masugi’s side and never wavers, even when she meets Crispin again, even until the end. O’Hara having taken pains to show us the wrongness of Rosario’s defiance now demonstrates the wrongness of the rest of the world in judging Rosario for her decision. Rosario has done what she felt in her heart was true; now we come realize what Rosario has done: gone over to the Japanese, married one of their officers just when they are on the brink of losing the war.
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos is remarkable for what its two halves achieve. In the first half O’Hara pulls us through the looking-glass, the world frozen on its axis and flipped upside-down, to show us how the wrong man can turn out right. In the second half O’Hara performs an even simpler act: allows the world to start turning again, and lets us watch while it rolls over Rosario and Masugi.
In The Human Factor, Graham Greene writes that nations don’t matter people do, and that a man’s true country is his wife and child; with this rationale the novel’s hero betrays his country for the sake of his wife and child. Both stories share a common element, an intensity of identification with the treasonous protagonist–Maurice in The Human Factor, Rosario in Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos.
We look at the world through their eyes and we are made to understand how reasonable their betrayal seem to them, involving as it does someone or something they cared about. They seem to say to us: “if you can’t do anything–literally anything–for the one person you care about most; if you can’t betray your country, your friends, your own self for that other’s sake, then your bond is worthless.”
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and its better-known literary cousin are subversive in the worse sense. If everyone adopted this kind of thinking the world would slide into chaos, espionage would be the world’s top industry and no one can trust anyone capable of any kind of attachment.
There are those, of course, who argue that the world is already chaos, that espionage is already a vast industry, and that no one should ever be trusted.
A fiery, flawed, fearless film, reckless and outsized in its intensity, its understated passion, it speaks eloquently on the nature of sacrifice and on the cruelties and kindnesses human beings are capable of.
By film’s end Rosario sits alone in a church with no one to turn to. She once again resorts to prayer, and asks nothing from God except to look after her baby. A risky move, a desperate move; she did this once before for Crispin and as with Crispin her prayer was paid for with pain and suffering. You might call Rosario’s The Story of a Girl Whose Prayers are Always Answered; the tragedy lies in the swiftness and brutality of God’s response.
Later, Crispin sits in the same church. He is alive thanks to Rosario, but (again, thanks to Rosario) alone. He asks a priest if there is a God–an old question, but in Crispin’s sad and bitter voice, a question with an edge.
The priest gives a reassuring reply: that Masugi’s relationship with Rosario is a sign of God’s presence even during this infernal Occupation. The answer is a bit too well-prepared, the kind priests through the years have handed out like so many fortune cookie slips; you wonder how much faith O’Hara puts in such replies.
Then O’Hara gives his own response, in the form of a blind man lighting a candle for himself and his palsied brother. The blind man carefully picks up the child, and makes his way out the church when a procession complete with hundreds of candles and heavily costumed wooden saints, marches in. The symbolism is obvious: true faith walks quietly out the door while pomp and pageantry make a grand, meaningless entrance. But the entire wordless scene is so quiet, so exquisitely shot and staged–an example of pure cinema–that it takes your breath away. Yes, Crispin, there must be a God–only he could have inspired O’Hara to shoot a scene like that.
I first saw Mario O’Hara’s Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God) in the 1996 Pelikula at Lipunan (Film and Society) festival two decades after its initial commercial run and was convinced it was the finest Filipino film ever made. Sitting down to watch the picture two decades later I have to approach carefully, gingerly, like with an old friend who has long since dropped out of sight: Has it lost its power? Has its edges dulled with familiarity and time? Does this World War 2 drama still speak to us–to me–with eloquence and force?
O it creaks in places. This was only O’Hara’s second feature and his inexperience (and ambition) shows: Actors pause and deliver long deliberately paced monologues; lines sound awkward rolling off the tongue. A climactic confrontation in a cathedral is clumsily staged, a supposedly punitive haircut less than impressive, a handful of unusual images reportedly arty and pretentious–but few films can be called perfect, I submit, and no film that pushes boundaries can ever truly be called perfect (if it was perfect it didn’t push hard enough).
The film begins with Crispin (Bembol Roco) telling his sweetheart Rosario (Nora Aunor) that he’s joining the guerrillas in the mountains to fight the Japanese invaders–she’s angry but quiet, resigned to the fact that he’s leaving but stubbornly unwilling to sweeten his departure with anything more than sullen gestures of affection. The film ends with the same Crispin sitting on a church pew, at the edge of losing his faith, asking a priest that oldest of questions: is there a god?
In between the two losses we have war, we have rape, we have murder and massacres, a whole panoply of cruelty and bitterness and madness and despair. Compared to relative newcomers like Lars Von Trier or Gaspar Noe or Takashi Miike, O’Hara’s violence may seem mild even old-fashioned in its restraint–but he modulates dark moments with affection tenderness love, and the contrast I submit is what keeps him relevant. The bits of humanity doled out sparingly here there among the film’s characters (“Who knows when” they must be thinking “a chance will present itself again?”) feel all the more precious because of the precariousness, because of the times.
Von Trier, Noe and Miike traffic in a nihilistic philosophy that declares the world to be a cesspool out of which we have no hope of climbing. O’Hara agrees somewhat–the world is a cesspool–and for prima facie evidence offers Rosario, who loses her beau her family her innocence and more. Unlike Von Trier’s martyred fools however Rosario remains a strong intelligent young woman; the more she’s pulled down the more she stubbornly digs in.
How strong is she? In the film’s first half while the Japanese are winning Rosario remains defiant; she insults Masugi (Christopher de Leon) a drunken Japanese-Filipino officer who chases her down and rapes her, and she’s still defiant. She’s only a small-town schoolteacher but as fierce as any guerrilla (judging from Crispin and the comrades he brings down from the mountains with him perhaps fiercer).
The world having gone through a looking-glass eventually accepts the invasion and the inverted order of things (Filipinos bowing to the enemy, America a distant useless ally, town church turned into POW camp), begins the process of accommodation and collaboration–and still Rosario doesn’t give in (her virginity may be compromised but her will remains inviolate). Rosario finds herself not just overwhelmed (by the might of the Japanese military, by Masugi’s own physical strength) but wrong: the Japanese are here (her parents tell her), are the authorities now; it’s time to, O, admit defeat, move on, come together and build a nation. Why can’t she accept things the way they are?
Because as Goethe has Mephisto* tell Faust: “You are when all is done–just what you are. Put on the most elaborate curly wig, mount learned stilts to make yourself look big, you still will be the creature that you are.” Rosario unlike Faust doesn’t even try being different; when her defiance comes to a crisis O’Hara (in arguably the single most dramatic shot in the film) perches her at the apex of a high bridge, looking down into a gully at the hard rocks washed by a thin stream far below, her will now at odds with her humanity. Will she break? Should she break?
*(The words are all the more relevant because O’Hara had once played Mephisto, in German theater director Fritz Bennewitz’s staging of Goethe’s classic, and I found those lines–which O’Hara delivered–full of resigned understanding of (even reluctant sympathy for) flawed human nature, and inexpressibly moving)
In the film’s latter half Rosario (in effect stepping through the looking glass a second time, inverting herself in the process) is a changed woman resigned to her new loyalties, her new life–and still she’s wrong, now more than ever: the Japanese are losing the war, the guerillas and Americans coming in an unstoppable tide.
Rosario knows what this means of course: one of the bitterest secrets of the war is that the Japanese military for all its legendary cruelty and sadism had nothing on the people they victimized seeking revenge (and Rosario is a Japanese collaborator–to Filipino eyes more hateful than the soldiers). The implications make Rosario pause–at several points you see her working things out in her head–but never give up the struggle.
The film ends on a transcendent note–and here is where I submit O’Hara leaves Von Trier, Noe, Miike and the rest of the Cinema of Outrage behind: he dares introduce hope into his film. A daring gesture, I think, possibly the cruelest of all: in the worst of times hope sustains you, buoys you beyond reason and physical ability, enables you to step forward and suffer some more.
But I must correct myself; there’s one emotion crueler still (Skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven’t seen the film!). When Masugi in a long scene spins out his plans for their life together and their soon-to-be-born baby Rosario in a fit of hate and disgust flings him a deadly retort: “I don’t care!” Masugi is stunned; he knows she’s angry at him but never thought she’d feel the same way about their child.
He gropes for words, and the only thing that manages to come out of his mouth is “I love you.” Aware how feeble his reply sounds, he leaves–but the words have their effect on Rosario; she’s furious as ever. “Liar!” she yells after him, running down the stairs. “Liar!” she shrieks, running after the departing jeep. Hate and anger can often steel us to the point of invincibility but sometimes love has a way of turning that armor into mush, calling into question your identity as a Filipino, your dignity as a woman, your very self and will.
That shot incidentally–of Rosario running after Masugi’s jeep–was much longer in the original print; O’Hara once described it as the finest shot in his career. Lost now, of course; the director remembers the footage being snipped out and used in the film’s promotional trailer. Such are the tragedies of film preservation.
Does Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos still speak to us? I think so, now more than ever. Six years of a Duterte administration or four years of a Trump presidency or three of a Japanese Occupation will make anyone turn their head heavenward to plead; you probably won’t get a proper reply, but with this film at least you’ll get one man’s thoughts on the subject.
After an extremely self-conscious first directorial attempt in “Mortal,” marked by a shallow mish-mash of dated Freudian concepts, cheap and gaudy costumes and sets, and a too-literal representation of fevered images in a mentally-disturbed personality, Mario O’Hara, prize winning scriptwriter and actor, has regained both the bright promise expected of him as a director and scriptwriter in an impressive production of “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos.”
The film starts with a shot of Adolf Hitler himself exhorting his countrymen to glory under the banner of war and one immediately feels deep inside one’s guts that “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” is not just another Tagalog movie. The use of World War II documentary footage including the bombing of Pearl Harbor unmistakably sets the right
milieu for the film and the viewer is reluctantly seduced into a remembrance of a past era.
The film recounts the story of Rosario (Nora Aunor), a schoolteacher in a small town in Laguna, whose heart is torn between her romantic love for Crispin (Rafael Roco, Jr.), a guerilla who survived Bataan and the Death March, and her realistic love for Masugi (Christopher de Leon), a dashingly handsome Japanese officer born in Manila of a Filipino mother. It is a touching story of private people thrown into unimagined stress during turbulent times of Japanese Occupation.
A time when man, woman and child doubted the existence of God because they saw with their own eyes man’s inhumanity to man. It was an era that marked the Filipino’s loss of innocence. It was an era that started rampant
corruption, smuggling, arson, robbery, rape and murder. The Filipino way of life was never quite the same again. It was the end of “peace time.”
“Tatlong Taon” marks Christopher de Leon’s return to legitimate acting but his irrepressible boyish charm works against the role. The character of Masugi is robbed of weight, power, sexual menace and intensity. Rafael Roco, Jr.’s performance lacks variety from his previous roles and it is only his strong personal charisma which saves him from
being dull. Unfortunately, the two young men in the cast are made to look like boys when confronted by pain, anguish and sorrow communicated by the acting of Nora Aunor.
There are lapses in acting intensities which produce flat passages in the film. Rafael Roco Jr.’s breakdown lacks directorial build-up while Nora Aunor’s fury as she greets Masugi who come courting after violating her, looks pale and inadequate. Another flat passage lacking credibility is the ideological debate between Crispin and Masugi, where they sound like two stage actors reading lines to each other.
People who used to smile and wink when they talk of Nora Aunor as an actress should see this film, because the lady is determined to show everybody that she means business both as an actress and as a producer. In this film she is successful as both.
Like “Mortal”, “Tatlong Taon” shows the brilliant cinematography of Conrado Baltazar, the undisputed maestro who is an invaluable aid to any budding director. In “Mortal,” Mario O’Hara exhibited his appreciation of editing techniques but in this film his camerawork lacks fluidity and movement. And the geography of his editing is at times
disconcerting because he uses a cut-to-cut technique in the introduction of a scene before orienting the audience with a character blocking which he only reveals later in a master
The strong realistic drive of this film is weakened in the second half when Mario O’Hara stages theatrical “moments,” like Rosario burning Masugi under a pile of coconut husks. I don’t think it’s possible to cremate a man with just a pile of coconut husks. It would have been more realistic to have placed Masugi in the nipa hut and burned it.
Another theatrical touch is the costuming of all the townswomen in black like the Greek chorus in “Phaedra.” Plus the utterly theatrical blocking of the women unnaturally circling Rosario as they crop her hair, with the cameras directly overhead recording the snipping whorl. This is where the film becomes false and unreal. This scene of vengeance should have been shot with the women attacking Rosario like the marauding crows in Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” The director also failed to provide good objective correlatives for Rosario’s rape, Francis’ (Peque Gallaga playing the Spanish doctor in love with Masugi) death and desertion, and Rosario’s execution.
In the end, Mario O’Hara symbolizes man’s fate as helpless creature buffeted by the winds of adversity but still turning to God by a blind man who lights a candle as a procession enters the church to mark the return of normalcy. The tragic fate of Rosario, Crispin and Masugi goes against the grain if traditional “cine Pilipino” which insists on a
happy ending. And for this we must thank conscientious craftsmen like Mario O’Hara and Nora Aunor for their concerted effort. “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” is without doubt one of the best films of 1976.
In 1976-the year I was born-Mario O’Hara directed Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, with superstar Nora Aunor cast in the lead role. The film is an epic period piece, a full on war drama starring the biggest actors of the era; it had both box office appeal and compelling content. Apparently that tumultuous time under Martial Law was terrible for politics but really good for Filipino film. (Will this golden era ever happen again, I wonder.)
The story-which Mario O’Hara also wrote-is set in idyllic small town Laguna on the eve of the Japanese occupation in World War II. Rosario (a radiant Nora Aunor in her early twenties) is an innocent barrio girl saying goodbye to her sweetheart Crispin (Bembol Roco) who is a soldier going off to war. Rosario and her family stubbornly refuse to flee their small town for the mountains, where many hid during the war. They cling to the belief that the United State of America and God will not forsake them-even if their daughter is raped by a Japanese-Filipino officer named Masugi (Christopher de Leon) and the townspeople massacred en masse in church.
Nora Aunor, with her dusky skin and unfathomable eyes, is fiercely luminous in her portrayal of Rosario. She makes post partum depression, post traumatic stress disorder, tragedy, grief, and anger seem like a mystical experience. She embodies Sisa from Noli as she walks around in her white dress and her flowing black hair, clutching her baby like a madwoman. The palpable chemistry between Nora Aunor and Christopher de Leon-who was her husband at the time-is pitch perfect for the hate/love relationship between Rosario and Masugi.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg-Tatlong Taong Walang Dios is a masterpiece that juxtaposes the horrors of war and the peacefully lush Laguna countryside, with dead bodies in the batis and little schoolchildren singing “Jingle Bells” as the war raged on. This was a war was not just between Filipinos and the Imperial Japanese Army, it was also between a woman and her rapist, and also between fellow Filipinos who betrayed and killed each other in the end, as American bombs fell from the sky.
Some say the country never recovered from World War II. Maybe it’s just taking longer than expected.
In 1946, thirty years before Mario O’Hara made his film, a man named Teodulo Protomartir took his camera and photographed the ruins of Manila on 35 mm.
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos 1976
Original Title: Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos 1976, Trois personnes et trois ans sans Dieu 1976, Three Years Without God 1976, Three Godless Years 1976
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Directed by Mario O’Hara
Produced by Nora Aunor
Written by Mario O’Hara
Starring Nora Aunor, Christopher De Leon, Bembol Roco
Music by Minda D. Azarcon
Cinematography Conrado Baltazar
Edited by Efren Jarlego, Ike Jarlego Jr.
Production company NV Productions
LVN Pictures (color) (as LVN Studios)
Premiere Productions (filming facilities) (as Premiere Studios)
Ropers Studio (stills) (as Roper’s)
Genre: Drama, Romance, War
Language: Filipino, Tagalog
Length: 114 min
Release Date in Philippines: 19 November 1976
Publish Date: 2019-09-20
Nora Aunor … Rosario
Christopher De Leon … Masugi
Bembol Roco … Crispin (as Rafael Roco Jr.)
Orlando Nadres … Padre Daniel (as Orlando R. Nadres)
Peque Gallaga … Francis
Mario Escudero … Mang Andoy
Yolanda Luna … Aling Luna
Edwin O’Hara … Gerilya 1
Joey Galvez … Gerilya 2
Dante Balois … Gerilya 3
Soxy Topacio … Gerilya 4
Licerio Tabalon … Lito (as Licerio Tabalon Jr.)
Tommy Yap … Commanding Officer
Nina Lorenzo … Kaibigan ni Rosario
Estrella Antonio … Utusan
Jon Garcia-Ariño … (as John Ariño)
The PETA Kalinangan Ensemble
Nora Aunor … producer (as Nora Villamayor)
Christopher De Leon … executive producer
Antonia Villamayor … associate producer
Eustacio Villamayor … associate producer
Minda D. Azarcon
Conrado Baltazar … director of photography
Film Editing by
Ike Jarlego Jr.
Art Direction by
Rey Salamat … makeup artist
Emy De Guzman … assistant production manager
Ricardo De Guzman … production manager
June Torrejon-Rufino … in charge of production (as June Torejon)
Pearl Valdez … in charge of production (as Pearl Valdez Armada)
Apolonio Abadeza … set and props
Lito Aquino … setting (as Joselito Aquino)
Roberto Dela Cruz … property master
Lito Nicdao … setting
Felix Raymundo … assistant art director
Mario Tulod … property master
Dan Del Rosario … field soundman
Camera and Electrical Department
Proceso Lázaro … assistant camera (as Proceso Lazaro)
Willy Asuncion … assistant film editor
Rufino Cabrales … assistant film editor (as Pinong Cabrales)
Orlando Nadres … lyrics (as Orlando R. Nadres)
Opera Chorus of the Philippines … chorus: title song
Gamaliel Viray … singer: title song
Ross F. Celino Jr. … in charge of promotion
Jose Dominguez … legman
Eduardo Luartes … utility
Daniel Martin … production assistant
Romero Valenzuela … utility
Eddie Villamayor … production coordinator
Ernesto Villamayor … production coordinator
Oscar Villamayor … production coordinator
Tita Villamayor … administrative manager
Mario O’Hara – director
Nora Aunor – producer
Conrado Baltazar – cinematographer
Minda D. Azarcon – music
Christopher De Leon – executive producer
Antonia Villamayor – associate producer
Anastacio Villamayor – associate producer
Reviews were very positive, with Pio de Castro III of The Times Journal in 1976 calling it “one of the best films” of the year. Film critic Noel Vera agreed, calling the movie the “greatest Filipino film ever made”, and Vincenzo Tagle stated in 2012 that it “still remains unsurpassed”.
In 2016, ABS-CBN Corporation commissioned the film to be digitally restored and remastered by L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy as part of their ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project. The restoration of the film was supervised by Davide Pozzi. The restored version premiered at the 2016 Cinema One Originals film festival on November 15, 2016.
List of film festival exhibitions
1981 – Official Selection, Filipino Cinema Panorama, 3rd Festival Des 3 Continents, Nantes, Dec. 1-8
1995 – 2nd Asian Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan, December 18–19
2003 – Philippine Film Festival Fukuoka City, Japan, November 1–16
2004 – Asian Cinemas: “Fertile and Diverse,” National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, May 19–26, 2004