DVD - Romero (M)

First released in 1989, Romero has lost none of its power in this DVD version.

Following the story of El Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero, it starts shortly before the bookish priest’s elevation to the archbishopric in 1977 – a matter which was greeted with some dismay by many in El Salvador looking for reforms and as a safe bet by those wanting to maintain the comfortable relationship between church and state – and follows events up until his assassination in 1980.

 

"An historical film - both in its subject matter and the date of its making, but the issues it confronts and the challenges it presents are still present – no, more than that, prevalent – throughout the world we live in today."

Raul Julia plays Romero, whose hitherto on-confrontation ways change forever when his friend and fellow priest, Rutilio Grande (Richard Jordan), was himself assassinated only a couple of weeks after Romero took up his new office.

“We must not let this happen again,” Romero says at their funeral – words, which, while they do not prove true given the ongoing killings and the civil war that erupts in El Salvador and leads to the deaths of tens of thousands - show his determination to work towards stopping the horrific violence that beset his country.

It's this determination which leads him to increasingly confront the government and the activities of soldiers as well as the class and racial divides of El Salvador. Romero finds a courage that few suspected he had as he brings new hope to the oppressed and terrified people, surrounded by death and ‘disappearances’ – a non-violent stance which leads to his own arrest, confrontation with those who believe the only way to freedom is through using the same tactics that the government uses.

“The mission of the church is to identify itself with the poor and to join with them in their struggle for justice,” the archbishop tells his congregation at one point. “By so doing, the church finds its own salvation.”

An historical film - both in its subject matter and the date of its making, but the issues it confronts and the challenges it presents are still present – no, more than that, prevalent – throughout the world we live in today.

A film that should occupy a place in anyone’s DVD collection. Well worth revisiting.

Romero was released on 3rd May.