|Directed by||John Duigan|
|Produced by||Fr. Ellwood (Bud) Kieser|
|Written by||John Sacret Young|
|Music by||Gabriel Yared|
|Edited by||Frans Vandenburg|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Romero is a 1989 American biopic depicting the life of Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero, who organized peaceful protests against the violent military regime, eventually at the cost of his own life. The film stars Raúl Juliá as Oscar Romero, Richard Jordan as Romero's close friend and fellow martyred priest, Rutilio Grande, as well as actors Ana Alicia and Harold Gould. Although the film depicts true events, there are some fictional characters.
During the 1977 El Salvadoran presidential election, a fraudulent election, public unrest was at an all time high. In the midst of a guerrilla uprising, the military regime sends death squads to detain, torture and kill anyone who speaks out against its human rights record. The military also prevents average citizens from getting to polls; soldiers are shown blocking a bus bringing men and women to town on election day. When the people decide to walk, the military shoots up their vans so that when they come back, they have no transportation. The Vatican elevates conservative Oscar Arnulfo Romero (Raul Julia) to the position of Archbishop of San Salvador, hoping that with his quiet, reserved personality, he will not get involved in the military dispute. However they did not consider his relation with Father Grande, a more liberal thinker, to impede his conservatism. Although conservative, Romero is afraid of the government's increasing hostility. He originally refrains from stirring anti-government sentiments, but progressively, as he spends more time in his post, he sees evidence of deception, oppression, and systemic murder, after which he can't support the government in good conscience and speaks out. After the assassination of Father Rutilio Grande (Richard Jordan), an outspoken Jesuit advocate for the poor and close friend of Father Romero's, Romero begins to take a stand against the government's policies, prompting the death squads to begin targeting priests. Not only was Grande killed, but the children he was driving also died in the brutal attack. The Salvadoran government had gone from relying on priests to killing them when they went rogue. The slogan "Be a Patriot- Kill a Priest" became popular around the time Romero withdrew his support from the government. He says he will not stand for murder, and requests that all the masses in the area be brought together for the dead.
After failing to rescue a pro-government hostage of the guerrillas in a botched ransom, Romero discovers that his friend Father Osuna (Alejandro Bracho), a militant critic of the ruling regime, has been captured and tortured. After securing his release, Romero instigates a boycott of the president elect's inauguration, defying him by taking Mass in a church the military took over as a barracks. He later attempts to secure the release of a soldier taken hostage by Osuna and the guerrillas, but is arrested in the process. Osuna is subsequently tortured to death. Romero is at a loss for words and can only say "we are human beings" to signify that people should not be treated this way. Undeterred, Romero rejects the violent methods of the guerrillas, but is nonetheless assassinated while holding Mass. In the last scene it freezes to take a moment to state Archbishop Romero was murdered on March 24, 1980. "He had spoken the disturbing truth. Many chose not to listen. As a result, between 1980 and 1989 more than 60,000 Salvadorians were killed. But the struggle for peace and freedom, justice and dignity goes on."[attribution needed]
- Raúl Juliá as Archbishop Óscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador.
- Richard Jordan as Fr. Rutilio Grande, SJ.
- Alejandro Bracho as Fr. Alfonzo Osuña, SJ.
- Tony Plana as Fr. Manuel Morantes, SJ.
- Lucy Reina as Lucia, a poor campesino. (Fictional character.)
- Ana Alicia as Arista Zelada, an upper-class friend of Romero's. (Fictional character.)
- Omar Chagall as Rafael Zelada, the Minister of Agriculture and Arista's husband. (Fictional character.)
- Harold Gould as Francisco Galedo, Arista's rich father. (Fictional character.)
- Eddie Velez as Lt. Ricardo Columa, a right-wing military and political leader. (Fictional character.)
- Robert Viharo as Col. Ernesto Dorio. (Fictional character.)
- Harold Cannon as Gen. Carlos Humberto Romero, military dictator of El Salvador from 1977 to 1979 (no relation to Archbishop Romero).
- Al Ruscio as Bishop Estrada, the military vicar of El Salvador and opponent of Romero.
- Claudio Brook as Bishop Flores, a vacillating bishop.
- Martin LaSalle as Bishop Arturo Rivera y Damas, bishop of Santiago de María. (He became Archbishop of San Salvador after Romero's death.)
- Eduardo López Rojas as Bishop Cordova, an ally of Romero.
- Tony Perez as Fr. Rafael Villez, secretary of the Bishops' Conference.
Romero is the first feature film from Paulist Pictures, a company founded by the Paulist Fathers, a Roman Catholic society of priests. This was the first time a Catholic company produced a major film. The company was also known for the production of a long-standing television series called Insight. The film was screened in 1989 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was directed by Australian filmmaker John Duigan and produced by Paulist Pictures founder Father Ellwood (Bud) Kieser. Alfonso Cuarón, a Mexican film director, worked as an assistant director for this film. Composer Gabriel Yared, who went on to win BAFTA Awards and an Oscar for his other scores, composed the music for Romero.
Romero was generally well received by critics. The film currently holds a 75% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on eight reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a moderately positive review; awarding it two and-a-half stars out of four. Ebert praised Julia's "restrained and reasonable" performance but felt that the film was predictable and therefore not as powerful as other biopics. Spirituality and Practice gave the film a positive review stating it as an "excellent drama" with most of the praise going towards Raul Julia in his performance as Romero.
Romero did receive criticism on how it did not shed light on U.S. involvement. Latimes states, the fact that the film doesn't deal with the role of the American government in El Salvador's plight, beyond a plea from Romero for us to stop sending arms that will be only used against his country's people”
Furthermore, because there was a lot of history aspects to be depicted in the film, The New York Times reviewer, Vicent Canby thought that the film "is more important as the brief, considerably simplified biography of a heroic man than as cinema. The film's manner is that of a textbook."
- Roth James (March 2001). "What is wrong with "Romero" Film". JROTH. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
- Ebert, Robert (September 8, 1989). "Romero". Review. RogerEbert.com.
- Ebert, Roger. "Romero Movie Review & Film Summary (1989) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
- "El Salvador remembers Archbishop Romero". BBC. 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
- Romero. Dir. John Duigan. By John Sacret Young. Prod. John Sacret Young. Perf. Raul Julia and Richard Jordan. Four Seasons Entertainment, 1989.
- Sirico, Robert (n.d.). "Liberation Cinema: A Review of Romero". Web Page. Action Institute. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
- Thomas, K (September 15, 1989). [http://articles.latimes.com/1989-09- 15/entertainment/ca-89_1_american-film "LATIMES"] Check
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- Vincent Canby (August 25, 1989). "Romero (1989)". Film Review. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- Romero at the Arts & Faith Top100 Spiritually Significant Films list
- Romero Movie Guide from the Foundation for Self Sufficiency in Central America, a non-profit group
- Interview with Raul Julia about the film
- 'Romero' at the Internet Movie Database