Sergei Eisenstein’s unfinished work about Mexico was to meant to be a revolutionary film about the country’s social issues, mostly at the hands of Porfirio Diaz and a Spanish influenced lifestyle.
The film itself is important since it was an early work of what came to be many films centered around Mexico and its societal and cultural issues. Although Que Viva Mexico was left unfinished by Eisenstein, his influence shaped Latin American film. Eisenstein’s use of the different types of montage is a signature of his. Although the film is based upon what he started, we truly have no way of realizing the film he envisioned.
The film focuses on Mexican life before the revolution. Each of the novellas contributes to the overall story arc that is meant to expose the reign of Diaz, reject the old Spanish influence, and give a sense of optimism for the future after the revolution. The main novella that signifies is The Maguey Cactus. This is the novella about Maria and Sebastian. As a rule Sebastian must get permission from the wealthy landowner to marry Maria, and when he does Maria is raped and imprisoned. Sebastian vows for revenge and a gun fight erupts. The most historically important point to take from this novella is the relationship between the wealthy landowner and the lowly worker. The workers’ lives are dominated by the landowner, and it is all due to the pulque that must be extracted and fermented from the maguey cactus. As the pdf documented stated, Eisenstein shows how the cactus juice is the life blood of the region,due to the regime of Diaz, and how the cactus is a case of the workers’ produce being a contributing agent to their own oppression. The regime of Diaz has exploited the hard-working class at the hands of the wealthy, through the means of the cactus and pulque.
The epilogue about The Day of The Dead is an artistic look into the possible future of Mexico, after the revolution. The young children represent Mexico’s future without the influence of Diaz. The skeletons under the mask represent the old Spanish influences on Mexico and how they are dead to make way for a future.
While Eisenstein did not finish his work that was started, we do get a sense of what he was trying to accomplish. The opening scenes tell of a rich and storied past, that then transitioned into oppression at he hands of Diaz and Spanish rule, then ends with revolution and optimism for the future.