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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.

Cast:
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.

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: 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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