Review: ‘1809-1810: Before Dawn’

Ecuador's thwarted first stab at gaining independence from Spain is dramatized in the "1809-1810: Before Dawn." Capably mounted but a bit too bloodless, costumer is a watchable history lesson lacking the emotional or stylistic punch needed to tempt offshore theatrical takers. Nonetheless, it reps an attractive pickup for Spanish-language broadcasters.

Ecuador’s thwarted first stab at gaining independence from Spain is dramatized in the “1809-1810: Before Dawn.” Capably mounted but a bit too bloodless, costumer is a watchable history lesson lacking the emotional or stylistic punch needed to tempt offshore theatrical takers. Nonetheless, it reps an attractive pickup for Spanish-language broadcasters.

Hoping other provinces will follow suit, revolutionists in Quito hand their declaration of independence to the Viceroy’s local representative. Military re-enforcements promptly take a hundred rebels prisoners. While they await execution, others in hiding continue urging dissent, helped by outsiders — including sympathetic Catholic clergy, widowed scholar Pedro (Aristides Vargas) and the latter’s sole female student Judit (Marilu Vaca), a mixed-race painter’s daughter whose nut job husband got thrown into jail with the rebels. She and Pedro — a most uninspiring May-December romantic duo — realize their love amid increasingly risky situations, not the least the close scrutiny of genteel but crown-loyal Col. Arredondo (Gonzalo Gonzalo), who also has the hots for Judit. Tragic tale is decently produced and acted, but helmer Camilo Luzuriaga’s (“La Tigra”) too-steady hand misses ample opportunities to crank up dramatic urgency.

1809-1810: Before Dawn

Ecuador

Production

A Grupo Cine production. Produced by Lisanda Rivera. Directed by Camilo Luzuriaga. Screenplay, Luzuriaga, Mauricio Samaniego, adapted from the novel by Juan Valdano.

Crew

Camera (color), Daniel Andrade; editor, Amaya Merino; music, Diego Luzuriaga; production designer, Roberto Frisone. Reviewed at San Francisco Latino Film Festival, Nov. 19, 2005. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Aristides Vargas, Marilu Vaca, Gonzalo Gonzalo, Alfredo Espinosa, Aitor Merino, Santiago Villacis, Jose Alvear, Victor Hugo Gallegos, Gerson Guerra, Carlos Martinez, Diego Naranjo, Joselino Suntax.

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