Que Viva Mexico!

The film Que Viva Mexico! was unlike any I had ever seen, not just because it was obviously very old but how the film was divided into raw footage and also had ‘chapters’ with real actors. The film also had a very different story behind the making of it as well which is explained at the beginning of the film; Harte’s article also explains the making of the film. The initial crew consisted of just three men: Sergei Eisenstien the director, Grigory Alexandrov the co-director/producer, and Edouard Tisse the director of photography. It is very important to know the film itself was actually not completed by Eisenstien, in fact Alexandrov took Eisenstien’s film footage and put the film together, because of this we cannot know what Eisenstien’s take on the film actually would have been on putting together Que Viva Mexico. But Alexandrov did his best at fulfilling what he thought Eisenstein’s plan for the film was and what Eisenstein would have wanted. Hart also points out that Que Viva Mexico is like Alexander Dovzhenko’s film ‘Earth’ in that both films take on a them that is almost to large for a film, “Dovzhenko in the utter simplicity of ‘Earth’ and Eisenstien in the complex structure and grand range of ‘Que Viva Mexico!’” (Leyda pg 275) (Hart pg 20)
Hart also explains ‘Mexican Fantasy.’ This is another version of Eisensteins ‘Que Viva Mexico’ this film was written and directed by Oled Konalov in 1998. The film is completely different from Alexandrov’s interpretation of Eisenstein’s Que Viva Mexico. In Konalov’s version he too attempts to re-create Eisensteins original version, but he uses the forth chapter, “The Maguey Catus” ( the story with Maria and Sebastian) as the main narrative and weaves the other segments into this story. I would really like to see Konalov’s version because I think I would enjoy it more simply because the story part of the movie really appealed to me in Alexandrov’s version. At times I got confused with the raw footage in the movie, like how in the first segment it was clear that women ruled the land and they got to choose their own husband and began working on their gold necklace (dowry) at a young age, but in Maguey Cactus chapter Maria did not get to choose her own husband, she was brought by her family and met Sebastian, that left me a little confused so I believe if I could view Konalov’s version he would have weaved the stories together in such a way that I would understand better.
Through the movie their was a segment where they celebrated the festival of the Holy Virgin of Guatalupe. Many of the people were wearing very interesting masks and head pieces. Some enacted a mystery play of the sufferings of Jesus, where three men carried plank-like things on their shoulders to resemble the cross Jesus bore. The people walk and crawl up a hill to a church/cathedral. The three men that were carrying the planks stand on top of a hill and look like Jesus and the two thieves on his sides. The pope is throwing liquid from a stick on the gathering of people. The part that I find very odd is you have a huge group of Christians celebrating but right beside them you see the masks of evils and pagan gods; two different religions celebrating side by side.
The end of the movie was very devastating to me because I  thought that after the bad guys had buried the three good guys they were going to ride off and leave them there to die and then the boy by the cactus was going to come and save them. It was so cruel how they trampled them to death with their horses while the boy by the cactus got to watch. If that is not sad enough Maria comes and embraces and lays on her dead lover still buried up to his neck.
The speaker of the movie comes on once again and explains how issues like this led to the uprising of 1910 in Mexico and the people were reunited by Revolution. He also made a point to say that women always stood by their men even in fighting. This film is intended to show the country;s social life and what led to revolution, it presented  an inside look on the cultural and social issues of Mexico at the time.  I believe the film did a very good job at this, and the fact that we got to see real footage made it so real, and more interesting. But the Robe Article explains how in the 1930’s some American film critics tried to mass distribute Eisenstein’s ‘Que Viva Mexico’ and ran into problem with Hollywood because the film is made with authentic raw footage and they demanded them to re-edit the film to fit classical Hollywood cinema. Nevertheless I really enjoyed the movie and it showed what led to revolution.