Libertador (The Liberator) (2013)
Director: Alberto Arvelo.
Starring: Édgar Ramírez (Simon Bolivar), Erich Wildpret (Antonio Jose de Sucre), María Valverde (Maria Theresa Bolivar).
Simon Bolivar, revolutionary hero in South America
Simon Bolivar fought over 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in South America. He rode over 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of Alexander the Great. His army never conquered. It liberated.
Bogoto, Republic of Great Colombia, September 25, 1828. Bolivar comes home to his girlfriend. They hug and kiss. They are interrupted by enemy forces intent on capturing Bolivar. Bolivar wants to fight the enemy, but his girlfriend tells him to get away. Bolivar escapes out the back way but he is spotted there.
Flashback. Simon as a young boy looses his mother. His relatives want him to look at his mother in the casket, but he refuses. He runs away. Simon runs to Hipolita, a black woman, who will be his substitute mother.
Back to the present. Simon gets away.
Madrid, the Kingdom of Spain. 28 years earlier. Bolivar is preoccupied looking at a beautiful Spanish woman. The prince invites Bolivar to play against him in a game of badminton. Bolivar accepts. He mentions that he's from Caracas, Venezuela province. The prince doesn't seem to care where he's from. In the game he gets distracted by the same pretty woman and ends up hitting the prince in the eye with a hard shot. He apologizes to the prince, saying he didn't mean to do that. After the match, Bolivar goes over to the pretty woman and says it was all her fault, saying that her beauty distracted him. He says he wants to take Maria Teresa away to the new world for new adventures.
The next scene is of Bolivar and his wife arriving by ship and boat in the new world. His wife is absolutely astonished at all the new things she sees.
Province of Venezuela, the Kingdom of Spain. At their plantation they are greeted by a large number of black slaves. Bolivar introduces his wife to Hipolita as his mother. The two women shake hands.
Bolivar shows Maria Teresa the vast acres of land he owns.
Bolivar gets a visit from his maestro. At dinner, Maria Teresa tells the maestro that her husband has told her a lot of things about the man. She then says she left and, indeed, left everything behind, to marry his disciple. The maestro says he's against matrimony, against nations, against any system of control. He goes on to say that after 300 years, the powerful Spanish clutches have begun to weaken in South America and it's time for action.
And now the king's soldiers arrive. They have come for the maestro. Bolivar and his uncle hurry the maestro away to hide him. The maestro says he's supposed to be in Paris, France. So now they put the maestro on a horse and take him away through the sugar cane fields.
Bolivar returns to the dinner and says hello to General Monteverde. The general compliments Bolivar on his fine choice of a charming wife. He then asks if Bolivar has seen his old friend Maestro Rodriguez? Bolivar says that Rodriquez is said to be in Paris, but the general says he's right here in Caracas. Getting nowhere with Bolivar, the general leaves. Later at night, Bolivar joins the dancing of the slaves.
The next morning Bolivar and his wife have sex in the grass. (some nudity) They leave on their horses when a storm threatens. Maria Teresa falls off her horse. Bolivar goes back for her. The doctor says that Maria Teresa has the yellow fever and there's nothing that can be done for her. The doctor leaves. His wife tells Bolivar that she is pregnant.
His wife dies.
Paris, France, 1806. Two years later. Bolivar associates with the royals. At a card games a pretty woman introduces him to a friend, Martin Torkington. Martin joins the game. He says there's been bad news from Venezuela. The rebel Francisco de Miranda landed with 200 men not far from Caracas. He goes on to say that the Spanish were tipped off that the Venezuelans were about to start a rebellion. All the rebels were massacred except for Miranda.
Bolivar has a woman that he really likes called Fanny. She and Bolivar have sex together. (brief nudity) Fanny tells him that Napoleon is coming back to Paris today. She also tells him that the maestro came to see him this morning.
Bolivar find the maestro and they talk. The maestro says he's very disappointed in Bolivar. Just when things were heating up in Venezuela, Bolivar left just because his wife died. Bolivar gets mad at Rodriguez and leaves, but he soon comes back to him. He will work with the maestro for Venezuela.
Now Bolivar goes to see Miranda. He asks Miranda to come back to South America and lead their revolution. He also gives Miranda money from his own resources. He tells Miranda that all he wants is to be part of the fight.
Valencia, Province of Venezuela, the Kingdom of Spain. A battle rages in Valencia and Bolivar is in the thick of it. Bolivar goes to Miranda to tell him that the Spanish are escaping through the swamps. He wants permission to pursue them. Miranda says permission denied. Bolivar objects that they have General Monteverde on the run. "We're winning, General." The general says that the Spanish will come back and hit them.
Bolivar is now transferred to the fort at Puerto Cabello to the munitions depot. Bolivar's friend, Second Lieutenant Antonio Jose de Sucre, says that Bolivar is their best fighter and Miranda is making a mistake by removing Bolivar from the fighting. Bolivar says that Miranda is one of the great generals of the times. Antonio says he was the greatest in the last century, but not any more.
Bolivar goes to the fort on the coast. He immediately sends for reinforcements. Turkington sends Bolivar a long box filled with modern rifles. Bolivar decides to go see Turkington. The gentleman tells Bolivar that all he and his associate wants from Bolivar is for him to win. He also tells Bolivar that their present plans are doomed to failure without the proper funding and he and his associates want to help Bolivar in anyway they can. Bolivar hears and sees an explosion at his fort. He rushes back to the fort. He is told that the Spanish soldiers escaped from jail. Second Lieutenant Vinoni opened the doors for them.
Bolivar now learns that Miranda didn't send them any reinforcements because he sees the fort as a lost cause. The general doesn't believe the patriot army can win against the royals. He has already signed the surrender, and sails at dawn for England. Bolivar says that's treason.
Bolivar has the general arrested for betraying the Venezuelan Republic. He takes the general to the Spanish soldiers and turns him over to them, but the soldiers also grab Bolivar. General Monteverde gives Bolivar a letter giving him safe conduct out of Venezuela. He tells Bolivar that they have taken almost all of his land and property and he will be exiled to the Cartagena jungle.
Bolivar has to hack his way into the jungle village of exiles. Someone steals his boots. He demands them back and a man takes off running. Bolívar chases down the man and catches him just before he reaches his shack in the jungle. A mother comes out and begs Bolivar not to kill her son. She says to kill her instead. Bolivar stops whacking the boy and the family treats him to a dinner.
Now Bolivar has the men build canoes and they canoe downstream. With him also are some of the natives of the jungle. His men take a Spanish settlement. Soon Bolivar has an army of men.
Colonel Francisco de Paula Santander comes to Bolivar's camp with his men. He says the governor of Cartagena sent him. He says: "We're you're reinforcements."
The colonel tells Bolivar that his primitive army has liberated the entire Magdalena River from Spanish control. [This is the principal river of Colombia that flows some 1,528 kilometres (949 mi) through the western half of the country. It lies west of Bogota.]
Bolivar is going to take the army across a river and into Venezuela, but Santander says his orders will not permit him to go into Venezuela. He talks to his men about not going. Then Bolivar talks to the men and tells them to come with him into Venezuela. After the two talks, the men start crossing the river.
As the army moves along, they find patriots massacred by the Spanish. They find people hanging from trees. The Spanish are having a fancy lunch. Bolivar and his men surprise the officers' luncheon. Now they execute those responsible for the massacre.
Bolivar and his men are treated like heroes when they come into a big town. He goes back to his home and there he runs into Hipolita who now has very white hair. They hug each other. Bolivar does not stay long. He says the fighting is not over, and King Fernando will never give up.
Bolivar is fighting a very large battle against a very large Spanish army. He asks about the situation in Caracas [located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in central Venezuela]. He is told that the royalists are regrouping outside the city. One man tells Bolivar that they must pull their forces back and arm all the people of Caracas. Bolivar decides to pull back, but also wants to evacuate all those loyal to the cause from Caracas. He now tells Jose Felix to go to the Spanish garrison and tell them that the evacuation will be a peaceful one.
General Montevideo holds his fire while the evacuation begins. Bolivar helps up an old woman that has fallen. She recognizes him and asks if he it the Liberator? Bolivar acknowledges this. Now the old woman spits in his face saying" "My sons died in this war, this stupid war."
They have gotten a boat for Bolivar. He looks out on the Caribbean sea and sees a huge Spanish fleet coming to Caracas.
Kingston, Jamaica. September 6, 1815. Bolivar writes a letter to Martin Torkington saying that he has failed in his plans. Before he can mail it Martin comes to Jamaica and reads the letter before it is finished. Bolivar tells Martin that they are going to march on Angostura (today's Ciudad Bolivar), a small place in eastern Venezuela along the Rio Orinoco. The place is extremely remote. But once there, Bolivar expects men from all over the world will join them.
July 1817. Bolivar takes Angostura. Two units come from Ireland. And now Bolivar proclaims the great American Republic of Colombia. Turkington has given Bolivar 10,000 English pounds.
Bolivar plans to attack Bogotá. One man objects to the plan saying that the men will have to cross the Andes Mountains in the dead of winter. And Bolivar's men do not have shoes. In fact, the man says that he won't go with Bolivar because he doesn't feel like killing himself. The others say they will go with Bolivar.
It is quite a travail to cross the Andes. They make it over the Andes and combine forces with forces from around Bogotá. The Spanish garrison is below them, close to the Boyaca bridge. [Boyoca is 246 km (153 miles) northeast of Bogotá.] The garrison has more than 5,000 men.
The battle begins. The rebel forces push past the cannon and then push the Spanish troops off the bridge over the river. On the other side of the river the Spanish wait in huge formations. Bolivar enters Bogotá.
At a dance, a woman, Manuela Sáenz, asks Bolivar to dance with her. They dance and while dancing, the woman tells Bolivar that none of his officers, except Sucre, shares his dream of a united South America. They want to govern their own provinces.
Bolivar becomes the president. This has come after 15 cruel years of war. He gets a lot of resistance for his idea of a union. And now the new president also has to deal with the British attempt, through Martin, to control the financial systems of South America. Bolivar tells Martin that his proposal is an affront to the freedom that they have so recently won. Martin warns the president that he cannot realize his great dream alone. Bolivar tells Martin that he is done here now and can leave.
Back to the present. Bolivar has to jump into a river to get away from his pursuers. When he comes back, he is told that six of the conspirators are dead and another ten have been arrested. And Manuela is safe.
Bolivar goes to the jail to speak to Vice-president Santander, who the courts have condemned to death. Bolivar, to keep his idea of union alive, pardons Santander. He tells Manuela that it wouldn't look good for him if he was murdering everyone who opposes him.
The maestro comes to plead with Bolivar to stop the men like Santander. Bolivar tells him that the plan has already been made. He will to to Cartagena, then to Venezuela. He will march on Caracas and will take the power away from that traitor Santander. Urdanet will stay here in charge of Bogotá, the capital. Sucre will go to the south and recapture it. They will reunify the republic. A spy named Fernando listens at the door to the conversation. Then he leaves to tell others.
Manuela says she wants to go with Simon, but Bolivar wants her to stay in Bogotá as she is the only person he can really trust.
Word comes that Sucre has been assassinated. He was ambushed in the forest in Berruecos.
Bolivar finally gets some good news. Venezuela is in revolt and the people are taking back towns and cities from the usurpers. Bolivar decides to go to Caracas by ship. He will take a dozen men with him. He tells Fernando to arrange it.
Port of Barranquilla, December 1, 1830. Bolivar comes to the ship, but he has been betrayed by Fernando. Shortly after Bolivar's arrival, a number of the opposing forces arrive. Bolivar tells Fernando to keep the gates closed, but Fernando opens the gates for the men. Then the leader of the group says that Bolivar can go ahead on his voyage. Bolivar decides it's a trap, and tell the soldiers to fire their weapons at him.
"Simon Bolivar never arrived in Venezuela. His death was announced 16 days later. The official cause of death was tuberculosis."
It's great to have a good biopic of Simon Bolivar. The time of the film is less than two hours long, and that's not really long enough to cover the 15 years of fighting Bolivar had to engage in to win the revolutionary war against Spain. Those 15 years are tremendously withered down to a few accounts of the over 100 battles that the Great Liberator fought in. Since so little could be shown, the events were so condensed that I couldn't even keep track of the years with the Wikipedia biography and the film. No wonder they seldom used dates in the movie. According to Wikipedia, forensic examination of Bolivar showed no sign of poisoning or any other unnatural way of dying. He most likely did die of tuberculosis. But don't let this discourage you. It's a good movie.
Édgar Ramírez (as Simon Bolivar) was just great.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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