que viva mexico

Que Viva Mexico, a film by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigory Alexandrov, was filmed in Mexico during the early 1930s. However, for numerous reasons,  the film was never finished. Due to that, it will never be known what the original edited version of the footage would have been. All there is available is an idea of what the director intended to portray to the  audience, which Alexandrov attempted to show them.

The most interesting idea shown repeatedly throughout the film is the idea of the connection between life and death, the past and the present, and the old and the new. “Que Viva Mexico! addresses a theme almost too big for a movie, namely the interplay between life and death”. (Hart 20) The movie is shown in six different chapters, and from the very beginning the relationship is portrayed. The first chapter, the Prologue, starts off by showing “images of Mayan pyramids, followed by a funeral.” (Hart 1) This not only shows snapshots of Mexico’s past, but also a sense that those times in Mexico are dead. However, the different sculptures on the pyramids are compared to the living people of Mexico today, showing the similarities, maybe representing the idea that their past will never die.

In chapter four of the Maguey Cactus, we are shown the young worker having to present his bride to be to his landowner. Their blossoming marriage and inherent future shows plenty of opportunity for life and happiness. Instead, the female, Maria, is raped, and the male, Sebastain, sets out to avenge her. During the rebellion, Maria is imprisoned. Upon the death of Sebastian and his accomplices, she is released, only to find and collapse upon his dead body. In the beginning of the chapter, there seems to be a very optimistic outlook for the young lovers. The idea of life together. Then, the idea of their happy life is cruelly taken from them with the rape of Maria. Later, when Maria is released from her prison, the idea of life could once again be seen. being born again from her cell, only to die once more upon the resting place of her withered lovers corpse.

Also interesting is the similar way the three men are portrayed during the third chapter of the Fiesta during the pilgrimage and the three rebels of the Maguey Cactus scene.  Here, we see a scene in which “the three men are trampled to death – is enhanced via the visual similarity of this scene with the depiction of the re-enactment of Christ’s passion in part III”. (Hart23) During the third chapter, the portrayal of the three men happens at the end pilgrimage, showing their thanks to their christian faith. The second time, it is portrayed with the three men doomed in the field.

During the last chapter, The Day of the Dead, “Eisenstein uses the masks which characterize the celebrations of the Day of the Dead to make a political point. When the masks are cast off, some reveal the face of smiling young boys, while others show the skull of a socially doomed class, the military, the gendarmes”. (Hart 22) This represents a couple of things. First off, reestablishing the point of the  persistence of the Mexican spirit. No matter what they go through, their character and energy will prevail. Also established is the understanding that the youth is their future, which presents a solid ending for the film.