When I first heard the title of this film, I wonder why the title is Tinimbang ka Ngunit Kulang. I knew that the title is based from a bible verse Daniel 5:27 saying “Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.”
I researched about it and discovered that it is also a modern take on the Jose Rizal novel which is Noli Me Tangere that talks about social injustices. From the point of view of Ibarra, Junior takes the life of it in this film and Kuala is the equivalent of Sisa in the novel.
Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang is a tragedy film. It is a story of a misplaced love and corrupted individuals who destroys peoples’ heart. It centers on a relationship of a homeless woman and a leper, Kuala and Berto living in a society that don’t accept them. Kuala and Berto became friends with Junior, a teenager who first seemed different from them but then develops a great bond with them. His first attempts to give them social acceptance are blocked by his town folks and his parents.
A film directed by Lino Brocka also written by him with Mario O’Hara in 1974 starring Lolita Rodriguez as Kuala, Christopher de Leon as Junior, Mario O’Hara as Berto, Eddie Garcia as Cesar, Lilia Dizon as Carolina and Hilda Koronel as Evangeline. Originally released by Cinemanila.
The movie begins in chaos. A flashback of Kuala’s past, a traditional/folk medicine practitioner performs an abortion accompanied by Cesar. After the abortion, Kuala is subsequently left by the father of the unwanted child.
After what happened, she wanders around the town every day in dirty clothes and with mangy hair and only known by the townspeople as Kuala. A woman that is tormented by the people and the one that people asks to perform all sorts of indignities for the entertainment of others.
Cesar, a lawyer and a failed politician who was supposed to be the father of Kuala’s child is married to Carolina and has a son, Junior. Junior is a teenage guy who always hangs out with his friends and has a girlfriend, Evangeline. Evangeline is the most beautiful girl in their school.
Junior attends a wake with his family and he witnessed how people treat Kuala. Making her drink alcohol and make her urinate in front of them.
After the burial, Bertong Ketong tries to help a kid but the mother rejects it. Berto is a leper who is also an outcast like Kuala who is also shunned by the people in the town. Berto has no companion who lives in the town’s cemetery.
One night, he goes to a club to pay a night with a woman but he was rejected. He seeks companionship with the one who will not reject him, Kuala. The next day he attracts Kuala with a rattle and takes her to his house. Berto ends up caring for Kuala, manages her hair, cleaning her up, providing her food and shelter in his house.
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Meanwhile, Evangeline is named as a queen of their town’s procession with a young actor as her escort. Junior feels bother though he is convinced that he loves her, Evangeline seems to be not taking their relationship seriously. She is flirting with her escort and ignoring Junior in the parade. Junior goes to the place of Milagros and buys some drinks. He seeks company with her and later on seduces him.
Junior observes that some things aren’t right so he started associating with Berto. He apologizes for some of the bad things he endured from them and started to befriend him. Junior felt a lot sympathy of a father with Berto than in his father. During some talks with Berto, he starts to figure out some pieces of truth behind a man’s relationship to Kuala thinking that it is possible that it is his father.
Evangeline gets married to Junior’s friend after being caught having an intercourse in a car. But it seems that Evangeline lost the best man in her life as her husband is a “Kiss and Tell” type of guy.
One day, while Kuala is wandering in the town, the people notice that she’s pregnant. The gossip spreads easily. The women’s Christian association decide to take away Kuala from Berto because she is being taken advantage of knowing that she is out of her mind. Junior tries to ask help from his father to bring the couple back together but his father disagrees.
She is forced to live under the custody of Lola Jacoba (Rosa Aguirre). One night, Kuala escapes and goes to Berto’s house. Berto brought her back because he knows that she will be taken away again from him but he promises to retrieve her after giving birth to their child.
After some nights, Kuala feels some labor pains so she finds her way to Berto’s house. Berto wakes up and rushes to the doctor who can help them. He goes to the house a doctor, Evangeline’s father. The doctor refuses so Berto starts to use force, takes him and makes him a hostage but he keeps on saying he will not kill him. Kuala just needs help. The doctor’s wife shouts for help and awakens the townspeople. They all follow where they go and before they reach the house in the cemetery, one of the policemen shoots Berto. Junior witnesses what happened. All of them are shock. He goes to Berto and found out he is dead where he starts crying in front of the townspeople.
The film won six FAMAS Awards out of eight nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Christopher De Leon), Best Actress (Lolita Rodriguez),Best Director (Lino Brocka), Best Musical Score (Lutgardo Labad), and Best Theme Song (Emmanuel Lacaba for Awit ni Koala.) It was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Mario O’Hara) and Best Supporting Actress (Laurice Guillen)
The story is good. All the ideas presented in the movie were all great. It has good twists and it is made to convey a message. It’s also another way to awaken people about what is happening in the society. It is the reflection of what is happening.
When it comes to cinematography, it works just fine as I consider the year it was made. I was only bothered about the musical scoring when Berto sees Kuala lying somewhere focusing her legs. The scoring does not suit the situation. It doesn’t help to manifest one’s emotion. We all know that sounds are another factor that surprise, scare and excite people about the scenes.
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While I am watching the film, I read the subtitle at the same time. I wonder if how we see the movie as great would be as great as viewers from other countries can see it because there are dialogues said that are different from what is written in the subtitle. There are some parts where some of what the actors say are different from what the subtitles are implying.
When it comes to the actors, I find them real great. Eddie Gutierrez did great in this film as well as Christopher de Leon. Eddie Gutierrez opposing scenes are very effective for me. It made me feel like he is really the devil in the story. Christopher De Leon’s soft voice helps the way he is in the story. I think he is really a good actor for the role. Evangeline is also good. She portrays to be a good girl and turned out to be a foolish one. I was irritated by the way she takes Junior for granted and the way she flirts with another guy, but it is a good thing. Lolita Rodriguez on the other hand is very very good. We all know that being a main actor on a film and at the same time portraying a role of an insane is a very challenging matter. You have to deliver everything up to the end with only few words to say. It might be the hardest role in this film because she has to make people believe not with the words she’s going to say, but for the actions she’s going to show. It’s very convincing, she is very convincing. I also see the consistency of her great performance in this film. She has this legendary performance as the town lunatic who is Kuala.
Mario O’hara is very effective as I pity him for his status. When I was watching the film, it made me feel like I am on his part. I hate the way people treat him and I pity the way he was treated by the people. The lines he delivered in the story come out very natural. That’s why when he was shot by one of the policemen, it made me ask the question “what’s wrong with the society?” and made me feel like “Hey’ it is happening all the time.” That made me cry. I only find vagueness in the character of Milagros. After having an intercourse with Junior, she was out of the picture. For me, it wasn’t given a closure. There may be the reason; maybe because she also has to go to Manila but the answers about where she is is vague. a huge production with a pretty large cast, and no one drops the ball.
I really love the story of Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang not only because it is dramatic but because it made me realize what kind of people we have in our surroundings, what kind of government we had before and asking myself if Am I one of the alienated in the society or.. Am I one of the oppressors?
As I watch the film, I found out that there are people who are alienated in a certain environment and there are oppressors. There are people who are outcasts and there are people who enjoys being superior to another. We know that people enjoys being superior because some people let themselves be inferior. The government we had in this movie is with Marcos Regime. It happens during the martial law as some of the actors says that there are curfews.
I can see oppression in the film as Junior has this good status in life but found his dark side. He is indeed a lost boy. He is a son of two wealthy parents but his father is nothing but a womanizer and his mother is a nagger. They have this Christian women association but are sort of villains too in the film. Yes. They said they are after God but how can they make rumours about people, judge them and let Berto be an outcast of their own place? They are leading the entire place to make a better society but was not actually what is supposed to be.
It made me realize a lot of things, we have seen marginalization that Philippines had and the hypocrisy of the people around us. Some of them are even into a religion. Because of the inhuman judgments, the film disturbs and touches me. It’s a breathtaking movie, all in all. It made me even ask myself about my stand in the society. What the film implies is also what is present today. There are social injustices, and no matter how good we serve others, our thoughts and action will always be twisted by others. What’s sad in the film is not the corruption of a government or anything but thse corruption of men.
After all the wrong things we made, it hurts to helplessly contemplate as we see innocence being shattered. The ending of the film says a lot of things. Junior is the only one who embrace the lives of two social outcasts whose attitude overpowers their physical and mental shortcomings and Kuala’s nightmare of the abortion turned out to be a new hope as Junior walked outside the house of Berto with the newborn baby facing all the guilty townspeople. It’s a very good movie. Lino Brocka didn’t fail to shed a light on our country’s social ills in this film.
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