BRIDES OF SULU (1935) presents a visual commentary of Moro Islam traditions and rituals. It’s like watching a documentary in The National Geographic, only that it’s in 1935 (the milieu could be much farther), and instead of seeing the African safari or a hidden tribe in Yemen, you witness the rituals and the forgotten traditions of a Moro tribe in the Southernmost tip of our own archipelago. In the middle of all these, there is a whirlwind romance of a Mohammedan Moro Princess and a pagan pearl diver. Though quite experimental in its form, it is compelling and surprisingly engaging.
It is a historic piece, with interesting perspectives and captivating performances by Adelina Moreno (Benita) and Eduardo de Castro (Pagan Pearl Diver). Shot in the vast fishing villages in the islands of Sulu, BRIDES brings back the power of cinema to amaze, enthral and awe.
When accompanied live by Kjuan with a repertoire of their original music, BRIDES becomes an intense historical commentary and a cliff-hanging adventure that is as gripping as it was with its first audiences in the 30s.
From its perspective, composition and tone, it is extremely post-colonial. But who cares? It was the time when cinema was a rising industry, and the promise of a new universe of imagination was just beginning to take form. BRIDES OF SULU, in its early experimental form, offers us the first glimpse of silent magic of early cinema.