The thing about film adaptations nowadays is that there will always be something that is going to be missed out when parchments turn into pictures. I suppose that is the very product when the directors make collisions between the two art forms, film and literature, while they have always been hand in hand. It requires strong artistry to be able to weigh the two and perfectly dilute them together; and Lino Brocka have shown his through his film adaptation of Edgardo Reyes' Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag
Upon the beginning of the story, Brocka establishes the ambiance of the entire film through showing how Manila was during the 80's- in black and white. As the movie shifts to a colored perspective, the lead character Julio Madiaga is introduced while forlornly staring at his lover's window, Ligaya Paraiso. The story is laid through the progress of Julio's stream of consciousness, and thus revealing packets of the past as perceived in the present. While Julio and Ligaya's tragic love story progresses, a dramatic expose of the Filipinos' urban oppression is gradually unraveling.
The film ends with Julio and Ligaya's overlaying opaque photos, as they become engulfed by the blinding lights of Manila.
Lino Brocka's restored film adaptation of Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag tantamount the very picture readers produce upon going through Edgardo Reyes' original novel. Brocka knows what has got to be seen and what has got to be heard, thus, he has not missed out even a single vital part of the story. The characters’ nature, the ambiance of the settings and the brilliant lines in between; everything is reflected in the film. The audience is practically brought to the pages of Reyes' masterpiece, and not a sole chapter has been neglected.
On the other hand, we can never neglect the fact that a great part of the film adaptation is the story itself. Edgardo Reyes wrote a swift and dynamic novel filled with visually dramatic scenes. Indeed, the story is a happening by itself, as if it is really written to be seen within the conventions of motion pictures.
The restoration of the film is still not that much impeccable- just the way it should be. If it has been re-mastered perfectly, then the Filipino film viewers of today will not have even the slightest idea of how it has been for the previous local filmmakers. However, in comparison with the previously restored version of Peque Gallaga's Oro, Plata, Mata, Brocka's Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag is visually better, albeit not auditorily.
Maynila: Sa Kuko ng Liwanag is the best example that even though directors and writers are artists of their own respect, they can always find a meeting point between their repertoires. And how lucky today's film enthusiasts are, as they have the privilege to witness how two gigantic names, Lino Brocka and Edgardo Reyes, collaborate in making such a wonderful masterpiece.