Que Viva Mexico gives insight to the lives and plights of the Mexican people. Divided into sequences, the film compiles historical information to show Mexican culture, though the film was never truly completed. Through these “novellas” the film shows cultural events in Mexican life such as marriage, their various holidays (Day of the Dead), the comeuppance of Bullfighting as well as Spanish colonization. However, the film being one of ill-completion, tarnishes its credibility in the eyes of the Artist (Eisenstein) as well as its full intention (whether he had been able to complete the film himself with the footage he was hoping for).
The film begins with native pyramids and temples followed by a funeral. Eisenstien uses this montage imagery to begin the film to symbolize the death of native Mexican culture with the coming of Spanish conquest. Life in Mexico before the conquistadors will never exist again, but the elements of this culture are carried on in the individual, the people of Mexico, which are then represented in later sequences with the combination of native and Spanish customs.
Production issues aside, the film presents an enduring image of Mexican life. The IV scene is perhaps the most disturbing as we see the landowning class and the poor Mexican class interact. Maria is soon to be wed to Sebastian, however she is raped by the landowner, due to his status and supposed “control” over the people. Her soon-to-be Husband Sebastian is then brutally murdered for attempting revenge on the upper class. As Hart expresses, “the social class which, in the pre-Revolutionary era, had raped humble women such as Maria and murdered men such as Sebastian who tried to rebel,” as an example of Landowner dominance over the peasant class of Mexico. The cactus represents the people of Mexico, their culture and the individual. It bleeds as the people do under European oppression and colonization. This episode, in addition to “Soldadera” which were never filmed, were to show the struggle between the lower class and landowning class’s growing need for new government pre-revolution This European idea of power over the state of the individual is also evident in the 3rd scene The Fiesta also is representative of Spanish influence with the introduction of bullfighting into Mexican culture.
The Fiesta represented Eisenstien’s view of Spanish colonization in Mexico and the displacement of native Mexican/Aztec culture. However, he does show the combination of a characteristically Spanish trait (Catholicism) and the native culture. This scene in particular is not to display religion in conjunction the Spanish conquest as Robe describes, but rather to show the combination of the two cultures into the “Mexican” people.
The day of the Dead sequence shows the transfer between pre-revolution and revolution, as the domineering government is declining as a new Mexico begins to emerge. The masks are removed to reveal Mexico’s future (the children) and the failing class and military are represented by skulls. This scene, also the films conclusion, shows the shirking of the previous government and the coming of a new Mexico. Eisenstien uses these scenes to show the domineering Mexican government of the pre-revolutionary period and his hopes for their chance at a better tomorrow.