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Lav Diaz’s Norte, the End of History

Lav Diaz, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (Norte, the End of History), 2013, HD video, color, sound, 250 minutes. Fabian Viduya (Sid Lucero).

LAV DIAZ turns the syllabic rigors of haiku into a kind of ars poetica in his latest epic, the portentously titled Norte, the End of History. “Five-seven-five, perfect!” Norte’s protagonist, Fabian Viduya, exclaims to his lover early in the four-hour film, admiring the “Japanese” precision of a poetic form that constrains an artist to such a sparse, unvarying structure. The compression and aesthetic impediment of haiku would seem inimical to Diaz, the most searching and philosophical director of the so-called Philippine New Wave, a movement that rivals the New Romanian Cinema as the past decade’s most important. Given to immense, digressive chronicles that address the legacy of the Philippines’ history of colonialism and dictatorship and often burgeon to extraordinary length—Diaz’s Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004) runs over ten hours—the director’s work appears to

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