May 15, 2010

Herod's Law (1999) : A review

I watched this Mexican movie after seeing it as a recommended viewing for libertarians in a couple of websites. And true to the recommendations, the movie bears a strong political satire of corruption in Mexico and the long-ruling PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) party. It aptly tells you about how governments without chains , checks and balances degenerates into an ever evolving parasitic creature that sucks lifeblood of its citizens. The movie is also notable for being the first movie to openly criticize PRI which ruled Mexico for more than 71 years. Despite of being a democracy, open criticism of PRI had been a taboo in the Mexican society, Herod's Law contributed in breaking that taboo and thereby raised a lot of controversy and interference from the then government. As George Orwell once said "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." , the film is said to have had a vital role in PRI losing the elections after ruling for 7 decades.

Juan Vargas, a lowly civil servant, gets appointed the mayor of a small village. All the past mayors of the village have either been lynched or killed for their excessive atrocities. PRI appoints him the mayor believing him to be naive and innocent (which he is at first) and hence a perfect puppet for the party. With good intentions , Vargas starts to build the village but soon realizes there is absolutely no funds left and working responsibly in the corrupt political system is not very practical. When asking for advice, he is handed a copy of the constitution and a revolver and told that only law is Herod's law. Vargas then begins to impose and collect taxes with the point of a gun. With this he assumes all the legislative, executive and judiciary power for the village. He soon turns even more corrupt then his predecessors and all hell breaks loose. Audience are likely to find his following actions too shocking and yet pretty close to the truth.

Though a strong political movie with huge significance, the film is poor in some areas like overacting, and the lack of coherence in the story towards the end. Otherwise, it's a great movie! 

Highly recommended movie to all the libertarians and all the big government supporters as well, who tend to have a too rosy a picture of powerful governments!

Herod's Law (1999)
Director: Luis Estrada
Writer: Luis Estrada
Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish
Contains violence, sexuality and offensive language.