Que Viva Mexico

Que Viva Mexico is a film by Sergei Eisenstein about Mexico during the 1930s.  The film portrays the changes in Mexican society from before the arrival of Europeans through the 1930s.  Throughout this time period, the native people of the land were forced either down or out of their lands and communities.  The influence of foreign nations on Latin America caused a shift from rural to urban living while.  As pointed to by Chasteen, this shift was spurned by the increase in exportation of crops in many of the nations and the outlaw of slavery causing strain on the workforce and local rural populations.  Que Viva Mexico seems to follow this same pattern in showing the social situations of the people in Mexico.

The film begins with two different sections which focus on the native rural life.  The first focuses on the ancestry of natives.  The images of the pyramids and stone faces compare closely to the native people placed next to them.  This shows the natives were not completely annihilated from existence, but rather suppressed culturally and socially by the Spanish.  The second section ties closely with first by depicting a cultural tradition of a woman making a gold necklace for her dowry.  This is also in rural areas and portray the native cultures existing in Mexico.

The next two sections of the film show the Spanish influences on the Mexican population.  The stations of the cross and bullfighting scene show how the Spanish culture has made its way into Mexico.  The stations of the cross scene show how Christianity has replace pagan traditions of the native people.  The bullfighting scene is an example of Spanish popular culture brought to urban Mexico.

The next section of the film turns back to the rural parts of Mexico.  The hacienda scene shows how the rural people were controlled by the land owners and overseers on plantations.  It depicts the men in power doing as they please with not only the fruits of the workers labor, but also the people.  The ensuing uprising was handled swiftly and cruelly.  This scene shows the changes in rural Mexico from producing for domestic consumption to producing for international trade.

The last section of the film portrays the Day of the Dead celebration by people who seem to be of native descent.  The celebration takes place at a park where all are dancing and wearing skeleton masks.  As the masks are removed, some faces are of people and others are of actual skeletons.  Some are dressed as people in positions of power.  This appears to be a sign of hope that the Spanish influence and treatment of the native people is dead as a result of revolution.

Over all, even though incomplete, the film shows how the arrival of Spanish people and culture damaged the native people and culture in Mexico.  This occurred not only in Mexico but throughout Latin America as industry and plantation farming led to an urbanization of the native people and a decline in the native culture.