The Mexican Revolution on Film – some recent books

Thanks to the 2010 commemoration of the centenary of the Revolution, its representation on screen has garnered reknewed attention. This is welcome after many years of comparative neglect. As, apart from a select number of supposedly exceptional films,  ¡Vámonos con Pancho Villa! (Fernando de Fuentes, 1936) and the auteurist films by Emilio ‘El indio’ Fernández, they had been largely overlooked. Zuzana M. Pick (2010) provides an invaluable analysis of the iconography of Mexican Revolutionary film, taking in the films of Villa on both sides of the US-Mexico border, Dolores del Río’s star text, violence as spectacle and a comparative approach to Paul Leduc’s Reed, México insurgente (1971). Eschewing the tendency to read Mexican film purely as a construct of competing political disourses she has “considered cinema’s alignment with the visual vernacular of Mexican modernity” (217) and carries out a close textual analysis of the films. Fernando Fabio Sánchez and Gerardo García Muñoz (2010) have also edited a volume of essays on the films of the Revolution, La luz y la guerra: el cine de la Revolución mexicana [Light and War: the Cinema of the Revolution]. This important text provides a productive overview of the films of the Revolution from the early newsreels and documentaries of the Revolution during the bellicose period, returning to Villa as a key figure, de Fuentes’ trilogy, Fernández’s films, María Félix’s star text, the US films of the Revolution, the censorship of films, Echevarrista films, and Zapata on film. These touch on some of the films I discuss in my forthcoming book and therefore, my discussions will carefully dialogue with these essays. The Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía [Mexican film insitute] published another collection of essays on the Revolution entitled Cine y Revolución: La Revolución Mexicana vista a través del cine [Cinema and Revolution: The Revolution Seen Through Cinema] (2010), which has some overlap with Fabio Sánchez and García Muñoz. Intended as an accompanying catalogue to the film series shown at the Cineteca in Mexico City, the essays complement the choices of films. These were a selection of films that the Nuevo Cine group would have approved of, and the essays in this glossy text display some of that bias. However, rather than an auterist approach the essays consider the tropes, style, and aesthetic techniques employed in the films, which is a reflection of the development of Mexican film analysis. Given the volume of Revolutionary films made, which run into the hundreds, these recent studies are the foundational texts of an area that merits further research.

 

Fabio Sánchez, Fernando and Gerardo García Muñoz eds. (2010), La luz y la guerra: el cine de la Revolución mexicana. Mexico City: CONACULTA.

Garza Iturbide, Roberto and Hugo Lara Chávez (eds). (2010), Cine y Revolución: La Revolución Mexicana vista a través del cine. México: Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía/Cineteca nacional.

Pick, Zuzana M. (2010), Constructing the Image of the Mexican Revolution: Cinema and the Archive. Austin: University of Texas Press.

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