Film Review: “In the Time of The Butterflies” (2001 TV Movie)


Directed by: Mariano Barroso

Based on Julia Alvarez`s novel

Screenplay: Judy Klass and David Klass (teleplay)

Cinematography by: Xavier Grobet

Starring: Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, Mia Maestro, Demian Bichir, Pilar Padilla, Lumi Cavazos, Marc Anthony, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Ana Martin, Fernando Becerril, Anthony Alvarez, Ermahn Ospina, Raúl Méndez

Violence towards women takes place everywhere, in all the countries of the world. Unfortunately, not many things are done to prevent these tragedies, which in the end can cause the victim to simply lose their life. But In the Time of the Butterflies that inexplicable crime happens, not only with women, but with men as well, who are brave enough to oppose a dictatorship, and pay the ultimate price to make their country a better place to live.

Inspired by the true story of the three Mirabal sisters, Minerva (Salma Hayek, Frida), Patria (Lumi Cavazos) and Dede (Pilar Padilla) who, in 1960, are stopped on the road by a large group of Trujillo`s (Edward James Olmos) men. They are surrounded and beat to death for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the government.

In The Time of the Butterflies begins by showing pictures of the actual victims of Rafael Trujillo. During the montage, a title card appears that says: From 1930 until 1961, General Rafael Leónidas Trujillo held absolute control of the Dominican Republic. His secret alliance with the church, aristocrats, intellectuals, and the press were the foundation of his dictatorship. His formula to remain in power was simple: murder anyone who opposed him. More than 30,000 people were executed during his regime of terror…

And then, the sceneMV5BMjE2NzY5ODQ2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzI4MjI0NA@@._V1__SX1617_SY854_ shifts to the inside of a prison cell where one of the regime`s victims, Minerva Mirabal (Salma Hayek), recounts the events of the story which takes us back to her past, where we follow Minerva`s story till the moment she ends up in prison. Minerva and her sisters Patria, Dede, and Maria Teresa “Mate”, live on a farm with their parents. Minerva, convinces her father Enrique Mirabel (Fernando Becerril) to send her, Patria, and Mate away to attend school. During their time at the school, Minerva captures the attention of el Jefe Trujillo, who notices Minerva at a school play.

El Jefe`s obsession for Minerva grows every day. This is why he sends his people to attend a dinner party with the Mirabal family, where Minerva is expected to sit at the same table with Trujillo. Everything is going fine, until the moment when El Jefe invites Minerva to dance with him, where he makes an inappropriate move towards the young girl. Fearless, Minerva slaps him in front of everyone, and is taken away by her father. Even though, El Jefe forgives Minerva, he does not forgive her father, who is later arrested.


After the death of her father, Minerva joins a group of people who share her ideas and ambitions to destroy the dictatorship in their country. Mate, Minerva`s sister also joins her, and shortly after, they are known as ‘Butterflies’. Even though the sisters know that if the government finds out about their activities they will be killed, they still continue to fight for the freedom of their country. Even though they paid the ultimate price, the death of the MIrabal sisters was the final blow to the regime of Leonidas Trujillo, and now, November 25th, is observed in many Latin American countries as the International Day Against Violence Towards Women.

In The Time of the Butterflies is directed by Spanish filmmaker Mariano Barroso (Todas Las Mujeres, 2013) who manages to makes this film incredibly difficult to watch. This film has absolutely everything we would like to know, that would have helped to prevent this tragedy. Barroso directs his film in such a powerful way; in a way that will make the audience cry and cry.

The entire cast of the film delivers their best to show the awful crimes committed by Trujillo and his men. Even though the film was made for TV, it looks astonishing and is very dramatic. Salma Hayek is absolutely impressive as Minerva, and Mia Maestro, as Mate, is superb.

In conclusion, In The Time Of The Butterflies is one of those underrated films that many of us are not aware of, but must be seen by everyone who enjoys a quality film. Sometimes it`s sentimental, and quite emotional, and this is all that is required to bring the story up to the level we expect.

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