Que Viva Mexico

Posted by: | February 24, 2009 | Comments Off on Que Viva Mexico

I just read on IMDB that this is a masterpiece, and that the author of the review puts this film right up there next to Citizen Kane and Casablanca. I think this is an exxageration in every sense of the word. I didn’t think this film was good or bad, im completely indifferently to it.The first part of the film, the part in the jungle where the couple was shown in all of their stages: courtship, marriage, having a son, reminded me a lot of documentaries I saw in Peru about the jungle. There is this weird sense of separation between these natives and the audience, almost as you are watching a National Geographic special. The camera is there but because there is no dialogue and the music aids in giving the scene a sense of mystical mystery, the audience never feels like they know the people. I think there is a sense of Latin America to sell the magical and exotic parts of their country to the world, there are commercials promoting tourism even today that show the Mexican jungle and natives running around. Now, I think that promoting tourism is really great, but what I always wondered is this: is what the tourists seeing really real? For example, I went to Cuzco and people there thought I was a tourist from outside Peru, and they treated me differently once they knew I was actually from Lima. They became more relaxed and friendly, and stopped treating me with this bizarre sense of respect. So I wonder: is this exotic tourism a vicious cycle in which the tourists go and expect something, and as a job the people act in that certain way? Did Eisenstein go into the jungle expecting to see people act in a certain manner, and hence, once they saw they were getting paid, the people from the jungle started acting the manner he wanted it to be? The reason I went on this tangent is because I didn’t know why I thought this movie was not good, but now I realize its because its a construct of a construct. We are not seeing anything real, we are seeing the natives act in the manner that Einsenstein wanted them to act, but apart from that, Eisenstein (or whoever edited this) constructed a story to give it a sense of exoticism because that is what he saw. I know this might sound weird, but I can’t get it out of my head. I always thought those documentaries they showed us in school about the jungle were fake, it had that weird acting like if they were on a reality TV show or something. But this film takes it a step further and adds a narrative, making it less rialable because the images have to fit the story. I am going to stop thinking about this film as a documentary and more as a fiction film so I can actually judge it.
As a fiction film, it has some good points and some bad points. First of all, the bull fighting sequence is really well shot and edited to give the sense of ultimate and uncontrallable death. It is not Eisenstein best, Eisenstein’s best is the Odessa sequence, but this sequence juxtaposes the idea of tradition and values. While we are seeing the bull fighting sequence from the POV of the bull (this suggests we have to have pity for the bull), there are also sequences showing the audience applauding the death of the bull. This makes us think: this tradition is horrible, but it is a part of their culture. The bullfighter is actually admired and applauded, while the only thing he has done is kill a bull. This interesting play on values make us realize that this is a culture that is different from the viewers and we have to respect it. I didn’t like the Magey sequence though. It was the most narratively focused of the 5, and I think this was its major flaw. It completely destroyed the idea that this could actually occur, and created a more of a melodramatic tragedy. The acting was over the top, and although some scenes where well shot, the editing was nothing of Eisenstein worth. I think that because it broke the style of the film it failed to work as strongly as the others. The score was also very much a narrator in this part, much more than in the others, almost mockingly.
Anyway, it was an OK film. Maybe if Eisenstein would have finished it, it would have become the political vehicle Battleship was, but he didn’t, so this is just another representation of Latin America through a tourists eyes. Go to facebook and check your friends pictures’ of their first trip to Latin America and you will see similar photographs, guaranteed.


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