The Liberator

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Liberator Movie Poster Image
Compelling lead performance saves violent Bolivar biopic.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 119 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Explores the importance of Latin American independence and how other countries' revolutions helped inspire Bolivar and his cohorts to rebel against their royal oppressors. Bolivar's mentor preaches the idea that men with means should help lead the charge for all people, not just align themselves with other people with land and money.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bolivar could have easily lived in great comfort and luxury but instead chose to help lead a revolution to liberate the Latin American colonies. He believed in the people of Latin America, not just the oligarchs installed by the Spanish aristocracy. His circle of close advisers stood by his side and believed in the cause of Latin American independence.


Several war scenes of people being killed, executed, hanged, burned with their homes, etc. Sugar plantation slaves are shown being mistreated. Some characters die of sickness, leaving Bolivar virtually without a family.


A few sex scenes include a topless woman and a shirtless man. Bolivar, a young widower, is depicted as having a way with the ladies. He has love scenes with his wife, and later, after she dies, with a courtesan and a lover who helped save his life.


Language is occasionally strong in both English and Spanish (the movie is mostly subtitled). Words include the Spanish equivalent of "s--t," "f--k," "screw," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink (some characters are shown carousing and carrying on) in a few meal/pub scenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Liberator is a biographical drama about Latin America's legendary 19th-century revolutionary, Simon Bolivar. Starring Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez as Bolivar, the movie (which is mostly in subtitled Spanish but occasionally features English dialogue) is educational but also violent, and it doesn't shy away from Bolivar's romantic relationships (there are a few partially nude love scenes). The violence includes war sequences of charging soldiers who kill one another; a group of civilians, including children, being hanged to death; slaves being mistreated and hurt; and various characters being assassinated. History buffs will learn about the revered freedom fighter and the epic struggle for Latin American independence, but some of the discoveries may be inappropriate for young viewers.

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What's the story?

THE LIBERATOR tells the story of South America's most famous general, 19th-century freedom fighter Simon Bolivar (Edgar Ramirez), who was born and raised in Venezuela as the orphaned heir to a sugar-plantation fortune. After Bolivar marries a Madrid socialite who quickly dies of yellow fever, he mourns and recovers throughout Europe, where he's approached by his childhood tutor and a British banker (John Huston), who convince him that it's time for Latin America to free itself from Spain's oppressive rule. Returning to South America, Bolivar gathers a growing coalition of local citizens and foreign sympathizers to take on the tyrannical royalists -- and the imposing Spanish fleet. But Bolivar soon realizes that not everyone shares his vision for a united Latin American republic.

Is it any good?

There are some impressive aspects of The Liberator. Ramirez, for one, is the ideal actor to play Bolivar, particularly because he himself is Venezuelan, and that sort of personal connection to a role rarely occurs in Hollywood productions (we can only imagine which British actor might have played the role, had the movie been made by a major studio). A gifted actor (watch the mini-series Carlos for further proof), Ramirez is appropriately swashbuckling and dashing to play Bolivar, and he certainly makes it believable that the continent's great liberator was also quite the Casanova.

The war sequences are well staged and handled, as are the set pieces involving gorgeous Venezuelan, Colombian, or Spanish castles, forts, caves, and plantations. Unfortunately, the plot's pace and lack of more personal details bog the story down, making it seem longer than two hours. So much happens, but the audience doesn't find out enough about Bolivar's motivations or his relationship with Manuela Saenz (Julia Acosta), whom Bolivar called "the liberator of the liberator." It's worth seeing, if only for Ramirez, who deserves more leading roles. But don't expect a definitive or comprehensive view on either the man or his cause; a mini-series would be a better way to fully appreciate what Bolivar accomplished in South America.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of period biographies. What makes The Liberator unique? Did you appreciate how it was in different languages?

  • Does the movie make you want to learn more about Bolivar? What did you learn him? Do you think everything in the movie was portrayed accurately? Why do filmmakers sometimes take liberty with factual events/people?

  • Discuss the movie's violence. Why is that kind of content necessary to tell Bolivar's story? What about the love scenes?

Movie details

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