The Liberator (2013) Poster


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A Flawed Visual Spectacle to Nineteenth Century South America
Kike Orellana1 April 2015
Historical drama in Latin American cinema has experienced a comeback in recent years (Morelos, 5 de Mayo, The Conquest) with mostly disastrous results, as the ambition of these projects rarely is met with adequate resources or talent. This film is somewhat of an exception. The most expensive South American film made to date, The Liberator cannot be accused of being unambitious. The 50 million dollar production deserves to be seen if for no other reason than to find out how the money was spent. Venezuelan director Albert Arvelo spared no expense in creating spectacular sets that recreate Madrid, Paris, Bogota, and Caracas, among other cities, and in mobilizing armies of extras to re-stage 19th century battles. The result is convincing. The camera-work and cinematography of Xavi Gimenez (The Machinist, Agora) is equally first class, whether it is drone-shot aerial vistas of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada or hand-held following a fleet of canoes over the Orinoco river. The score, by the phenomenally talented Gustavo Dudamel, elevates the visuals and, while mostly conventional, punctuates orchestral lushness with Amerindian instrumentation much like in Moriccone's The Mission.

If only the script were on the same level. Part biopic and part cinematic history lesson, the film ties to capture almost the entirety of Simon Bolivar's life in under two hours. Instead of choosing a slice of the life of one of the most complex historical figures of the nineteenth century, as Spielberg's Lincoln did effectively, Arvelo foolishly tried to rush us through his entire career, from his time as a young landowner, to a dilettante in Paris, to an almost Moses-like figure liberating an entire continent. Such ambition is nearly impossible to pull off, and what we get is a Wikipedia-like biography on celluloid. We follow Bolivar around without ever understanding motives, emotional or political. The narrative devices are equally problematic. Forced, unnatural dialogue is mixed with shots of Bolivar penning letters while we hear unconvincing voice-overs in Spanish, English and French. As the movie progresses, the less time the director has in explaining the historic or personal issues, and mere minutes are spent in political battles that lasted years. During the last half hour, the film opts for slogans, name-calling and unashamed hero worship.

Edgar Ramirez, who was riveting in Assaya's Carlos, plays the title character and doesn't quite know what to do with the role. He has a screen presence, but he cannot do much with a film has little time for character development. Ramirez is most comfortable in the early scenes, as a sorrowful young widower, but the progression from aristocratic landowner to military commander and towering political leader is unconvincing and he becomes increasingly unlikable. The English banker Torkington (the great Danny Huston), is the only other memorable character, but later in the film is turned into a capitalist-cartoon villain that seems like something out of a propagandist's imagination.

Arvelo, the director, confessed in a Variety interview that "screenwriting is quite possibly the weakest element in Latin American filmmaking." How could I disagree? Still, the accomplishments of the film are undeniable. The film is a visual spectacle, best seen in a large screen, and at the very least left me wanting for someone else to try a real character study of Bolivar.
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Best historical drama in a long time
robtromp20 May 2015
This is one of the most interesting historical dramas in recent memory - with particular relevance to the USA's current predicament - albeit our oppressors are global multinational companies who have no conventional nationalistic affiliations. The histories of men like Simon Bolivar and Che Guevara bear much scrutiny for the citizens of the USA today - because they were both born of a privileged society, but were driven by their consciences to work against the established power of their era. The one lesson to be learned by the two is that one must steer a very narrow path between collaboration and revolution to be successful, lest one become the tool of the current establishment or the tool of the establishment to be.

Watching this tempts me to compare and contrast with another of America's much-loved founding fathers, George Washington. If you look at the details of their achievement, for better or worse - one wonders how much of their legacy derives from the fact that although both were born into power and privilege - one ended up the richest North American of the day and the owner of numerous slaves and slave employing interests, and the other ended up dead under suspicious circumstances after having clearly declared himself a true champion of the average person - of any race.
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Impressive and awesome film
danielfebres17 August 2014
I'm Venezuelan, and I went to cinema to watch Libertador with high expectations. I didn't want it this time to be on front of a documentary movie because even with a awesome and rich Venezuelan history, not too much movies have threaten the history in a enjoyable way for young public.

Libertador caught me since the beginning with the excellent plays of Maria Theresa (Maria Valverde) and of course Simon Bolivar (Edgar Ramirez). And later Simon was taking high personality like a snowball down a mountain. I catch the idea Simon was a natural young boy with revolutionary ideas, but at starts, it was just a boy. In my technical analysis about the movie I have to say I loved the photography edition, also the customs used by actors, the landscapes scenes were awesome. Particularly the journey through the snowed mountains was really touching (speaking in a technical and dramatical way) .

In summary, I would recommend you to watch this movie.
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kosmasp8 February 2016
After playing Carlos Edgar Ramirez takes on another historical figure. He's doing a great job again with this one, showing off more sides than one of a man who was very important. In Europe we might not have heard of him, which is why they compare his achievements with those of Alexander the Great. Different times and different possibilities of course are a bit of deal breaker in this comparison. But still, mostly doing positive things, should be acknowledged.

Having said that, we do have more than drama here, but less controversy (if you think Oliver Stones Alexander) in some respects. The fight or war scenes are shot nicely, as is the whole movie. Very good acting and neatly outlined story development help too. Not only for historian buffs, but anyone who loves a good story
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Valentina S.28 February 2015
I am not much of a history person and I don't often watch biographic movies but Simon Bolivar is one of the most interesting historical figures so I've made sure not to miss out on this one.

I've enjoyed the movie a lot from the beginning to its end. While at some points I felt the movie was a bit stretched out, that is the only complaint I am gonna have. The landscapes used for filming were beautiful, the costumes, make-up and hairdo looked so realistic and reminiscent of that era I was quite surprised, the plot had enough twists and turns and, most importantly, the acting was superb. I loved the way Simon Bolivar and his peers were portrayed and the constant inner battle of the legendary general and later president that was shown throughout the movie. This film was all about the man that he was and the man he became hardened through loss and war.
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Put together nicely, but it lack story development
elvin garcia3 January 2015
I saw this film a few months back, it was a limited release film. My main reason for watching this film was for the History aspect of it, I've not seen anything that relates to the South American Revolution and was eager to see it, because no filmmaker in Hollywood has made a film with that theme.The film takes place in the early 1800s with Spain dealing with rebellion through the continent, as the people from Latin America seek freedom from Spain. So on to the review, I enjoyed the film greatly, with great visuals, superb acting, great photography. What the film lack and this is what disappointed me the most was story structure, character development. I wanted to get to know some these historic figures a lot more, it seemed rush a times, during certain scenes you wanted to know what this guy was about or some of the female characters. I felt this film had a lot of potential to be something more if they just spend more time on story and the characters.
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An EPIC providing ideas to ponder!
Rob Broekhof15 January 2017
This movie with Simon Bolivar as one of the main characters should be compulsory in any high-school. It's an EPIC that provides ideas to ponder. Regardless whether the story is fully true to what happened in those days. Naturally, the dialogues between the characters were written by people that live in our time. Still, I believe that they managed to stick to the spirit of Simon Bolivar and his conviction that South America should not be ruled by an elite group but by the people and that it should be united, just like North America. However, there's a big difference with North America, and I'll leave it to the reader of this review to determine what those differences are for themselves. Just one hint from my own perspective: consider the role of Torkington.

The shootings of South America are beautiful and breathtaking and the dilemmas that Simon is facing are expressed fantastically well in the dialogues he has with himself and the people he encounters during his quest to stay true to himself and those people.

I fully recommend this as "one to watch" (and to think about for yourself and to discuss it with others)!
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Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho next?
elmuchacho-864712 October 2015
Very good movie. Edgar Ramirez is the best Simon Bolivar since Mariano Alvarez (RIP). It's a movie I would own and watch again and recommend it to anyone that wants to learn about this great man and/or sit and enjoy a movie. The photography and design are superb. I felt that Bolivar's struggles were palpable and moving. They should have made it a longer, two-part movie if you ask me. The only thing that I didn't understand much was the final scene. I guess the director just wanted to get artistic, or give it a little twist. Anyone that has read or studied Bolivar, as any Venezuelan has or should, will know what I'm talking about.

Antonio Jose de Sucre needs a whole movie of his own.
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Average propaganda popcorn movie
Sophia Aragon9 March 2015
It's fine. Watch it, particularly if you feel like being told a complex story in childish terms. It will tell you how awesome some people are and how evil others are. But it's nonsense, of course. It's just entertainment.

The movie itself is not at fault in any unique way. It's always been fashionable to produce scripts that use history in order to create a fantasy world. Marketing strategies determine the perspective to adopt and if historical fact gets in the way few will notice.

Still, it provides a point of view, a simplistic one but a contribution nonetheless. If you use it to motive you to dig deeper, power to you. If you don't, well, you will at least be moderately entertained.

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Not all was bad
labikkina24 December 2014
Although I've heard this movie was around about a year ago, I didn't give it a try until I read somewhere that it was nominated for an Oscar in foreign film category so, I thought that it might worth the time. Well, not so much. Let's beging by saying that the casting of the main character just failed to convince in every possible way. Any one who had ever seen a portrait of Simon Bolivar can appreciate that. The actor looks are way too caribbean for a man who supposedly was born from European anscestors, father and mother both spaniards. The actor matches none of the physical features attributed to the historical figure who was 5 feet tall and weighted around 60 pounds. Watching Reamirez play Bolivar is like watching Adam Sandler playing Bonaparte. You just can't get pass the fact that you are watching a guy who's attempting to play somebody else. The same also happens with other key characters in the plot. On top of that, the acting is quite stiff. Most of the actors, including and specially Ramirez, seem to be reciting the lines in a school play, just rushing through the words without investing any emotions. Being Bolivar the great thinker as history claims he was, it is amusing to notice that the script does not conveys that eloquence and sometimes the dialogs don't even make sense, except for the very few moments in which is obvious the lines are extracted verbatim from historical research and those words result inspiring in their own right and not because the actor manages to awaken the emotions of the spectator. On the technical aspects, I like the photography and scenography; vestuary was nice too, and the effects in general are satisfaying enough. In short, I think you need to be south American and more particularly, a venezuelan national to overlook its many flaws and to watch this film with tender eyes, which is regretful as Bolivar is one of the greatest figures in universal history whose thoughts and actions changed the course of an entire continent and had a huge impact on others. A life story that definitely deserves to be told and known in a more dignified way.
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Kirpianuscus18 June 2016
one of films who impress first for the great ambition to present a complex story in its details, nuances and profound senses. than - for the right manner to do it. because it has romanticism, fight scenes, political confrontations, portrait of hero and aspects who defines the vulnerabilities of a man. it is a homage and many idealistic scenes are easy to be criticize. it is a manifesto and the purpose is far to be ignored. but, more important, it is a spectacular work who escapes from the temptation of easy ways. Edgar Ramirez does a credible Bolivar and that is the key to understand the man behind the great leader. a film who impress . not only for the image or the battle scenes, for the idealism and for the coherent story but for the feeling after its end. because it is little more than a romantic picture or a biopic with ambition of blockbuster. it is a story who reminds the books from childhood . and that is enough for ignore the detail than the real Simon Bolivar was more than the hero, his errors and sins and vision about the way to impose his project being more complex than the film presents. but, in fact, it is one of the good points of film - the invitation to discover El Libertador more profound.
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Sweeping and engaging as a film, episodic and disconnected as history
Jim Chevallier16 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
When "2001: A Space Odyssey" came out, some of us spent long hours discussing the meaning of the disjointed ending. Then I read the novel and discovered that the ending made perfect, even banal, sense; it was just that Kubrick had cut away the connecting logic and left us with isolated images. Something similar happens in this attempt to transpose Bolivar's epic struggle to two hours on-screen; incidents appear with no clear reason or subsequent implication. Danny Huston, compelling and charming as always, appears initially as an Englishman whose role seems central, only to disappear for most of the film after a few scenes. And when he does reappear, it is implied (quite counter-historically) that he had something to do with a famous attack on Bolivar's life. Or maybe not, since transitions are not this film's strong point. The memorable Manuela Saenz appears all at once but is never even named and it is only AFTER the attack in question that we hear a brief mention of her courage - with no hint that she in fact may have saved Bolivar's life, earning her the nickname "The Liberator of the Liberator". We briefly see Sucre close-up before he gets lost in the subsequent crowd of faces, so that when news comes of his assassination (with no hint that it was probably one of Bolivar's own officers who arranged it) we see Bolivar upset, but with no clear idea of why (still less that Bolivar supposedly cried out, "They have slain Abel!" foreseeing the impact it would have on the movement's hopes). Basically, if you do not already know much of this story, you may be swept up in the panoramic battles, the personal conflicts and some very erotic moments, but you won't really follow what's going on. If you do know it, you will be frustrated by how key events are given equal weight with some which may not even have happened (notably the end, which corresponds to no documented reality I know of). It does not help that the film lingers early on on what is essentially back story, wasting valuable screen time on what is apparently meant to be character development, but ultimately slows and clutters a story that needs far more delineation. Will you enjoy the film? If you like pageantry and passion, very likely. Will you come away much more informed about important historical events, or a complex figure, than if you had watched a completely fictional costumed drama? Not really.
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LIBERTATOR: A beautiful historical reconstruction, admirably interpreted
Jean-Pol Cardin11 March 2017
My opinion--

I watched a beautiful historical film about the major events that marked the history of South America. One can say that it is a hagiography on all these events and on the life of Simon Bolivar. This film was just made to make us understand and show us all the events of this period, but of course nobody can exactly restore the state of depression, emotions and fear that all the people involved in all these events of the " And the period has really felt, because in these troubled times, it is always the people who suffer much more than the images suggest, hence the term hagiography, but we still feel very well the soul of the film And all the intensity of the situations of the time. The production of Alberto.Arvelo is very careful and made his film live, he felt and restored the context of the time, to also note an exceptional performance by Edgar Ramirez (Simon Bolivar). We can summarize this way, it is a very good film we do not miss a moment, finally LIBERTADOR is a film to discover
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Just a bit of knowledge about a great man that perhaps was wrong
abisio17 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Been born in Argentina, Jose de San Martin was the main historical hero and LIBERATOR ; however Simon Bolivar was many times mentioned in History class on their meeting in Guayaquil Ecuador, where Bolivar took over to San Martin's campaign to the north and liberated rest of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and somehow Venezuela. It is quite strange that that important meeting is never mention in the movie; as it is the creation of Bolivia in his honor and some details about his dead that do not look too accurate. The Libertador is interesting because it shows you some dark details not explained in school. It has pretty decent production values and very well know actors but the movie is sometimes more interested in the person than the history and sometimes the opposite; so by the end we just learn a very little about Bolivar and other heroes like Sucre.

In brief; worth seeing but not a must
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Could have been better without a pussywhipped actor
AlexanderExtazy7 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The setting and scenery were great. But before I even watched it I saw this Edgar guy acting in it, and I quickly assumed that his main motif in this movie is to show the world that he has sex with women. Probably some sort of twisted mentality of his that he wants to show his childhood friends what he couldn't do back then when everyone was mocking him (my personal opinion).

I judged it that way because I not only saw Carlos, but a couple more of his movies and they are all the same.. a guy doing his role in a movie in addition to wanting to express his sexuality to the audience. Being bare naked in Carlos; the priest who "I has sex with her" in deliver us from evil. Now this.. what a viewer may portray from such an overrated movie is that Simon Bolivar was a pussywhipped moron who failed because his main sights were on women than his revolution.

Other than this troubled actor's involvement in such a film, the production was not bad.. with the exception of several unrealistic events that took place.
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