H for Herod’s Law

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Are we born corrupt? Hell, No! Do we have idealistic and moralistic dreams of changing the world while growing up? Absolutely! Do we want to work for the upliftment of our society in our youth? Surely! Do we deviate? Most definitely Yes, yes and YES!

Herod’s Law (La Lay de Herodes) underscores that no matter how much the population looks upto the new man elected for their deliverance and no matter how much good he intends for the population; money and power makes all corrupt and exploitative, unscrupulous and treacherous. Entitlement somehow manages to keep the disenfranchised more incapacitated than before.

Herod’s Law is a Mexican Political satire, which made such a powerful impression on the society that it proved to be the major force to tumble the seventy-one years of PRI rule. Luis Estrada has directed the movie that stars Damian Alcazar and Pedro Armendarez Jr.

When a few non Spanish-speaking Indians kill the Mayor of the small desert town of San Pedro de los Saguaros , the provincial officer Lopez gets the junkyard custodian Juan Vargas as the Mayor. Vargas was Junkyard custodian but a quiet, naïve, loyal party member and Lopez thought he could use Vargas as a puppet who could put a lid on the problems of the villagers so then he in turn can become the Governor.

The New Mayor is all eager and wants to change the place, bring about a ray of hope in the villager’s life but sadly the coffers are empty; the money needed for development is not there. It can only come through taxes that the villagers are not paying up, neither are the townsfolk respecting him as the mayor. On the contrary the Doctor, who follows the rival party threatens to defeat him if he is not capable of shutting the town brothel. Even the town’s priest tries to shake him up. Helpless he turns to Lopez for some sound advice, and sound advice is what he gets.

Lopez tells him about the Herod’s Law, which sums to ‘Do them before you are done with’. He gives him a book and a gun and tells him to extort taxes out of the villagers. That is the turning point of Vargas. He becomes the gun totting criminal, ruthlessly extracting money out of the villagers and he actually manages to fill up the coffers to the brim. He also takes to prostitution, mindlessly exploits each and everyone around.

The Priest is as corrupt as the Mayor, who by day talks of God and by night gets entertained at the brothel, The Mayor has no conscience at all he infact kills the lady running the brothel and her goon and coerces the townsfolk’s to pin the blame on the doctor. Also there is this American engineer who comes to the town to build roads. He is shown trying to help the mayor bring about progress but then taking advantage of his wife. Its almost a parable of America itself, where they infiltrate to work but use up the area’s resources. The only place where there is some humanity is the Brothel. Here it reminds me of Mandi a Bollywood art house cinema that shows that though the ladies of the house partake in sinful practices yet there is more soul in them than the entire town put together.

Juan Vargis starts as a simple man but his character escalates into a rogue with the dangerous combination of money and power that it is difficult to relate this to be the same man who started out for San Pedro. But than money and power corrupts the most erudite of us, then why should it be any different for Vargis. The movie kind of highlights how corruption and degeneration is imprinted in our DNA. I would like to think not, but then have we not seen this Mexican story repeat time and time again!

I leave you with a trailer of this movie..

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