“But the price paid was great, and the rapid modernization contained seeds of self-destruction”
Que Viva Mexico’s cinematic history is as interesting if not more then what is portrayed inside the movie. It is a story of challenging authority and influence, just like any of the themes that are discussed in the movie. The two actually parallel one another quite perfectly. This movie as Chris Robe discusses in his article was at the center of a debate within leftist movie theater. It used critically the montage scheme, which was not accepted in Hollywood. But, that was the challenge. To take away the strong hold the Hollywood had had on cinema and show that others could do it just as well. But, in the end the dominant Hollywood culture won out. Another movie was released entitled Thunder over Mexico. This success is very much like in the movie when the plantation owners are able to put down the rebellion of the indigenous workers. In the movie business if someone outside of Hollywood tried to make a movie, especially with experimental qualities they would be put down such as Eisenstein was. The movie also takes out the historical context of the movie so that is does not have a larger meaning. The whole purpose of Que Viva Mexico was to portray a larger meaning of the Mexican Revolution. But, this does not go with a Hollywood stylized movie. Another element that affected the finished product was the power of Marxism. Eisenstein naturally had a Marxist view and that would have played into his portrayal of the indigenous workers. It can defiantly be seen in the sixth section where the masks are removed and all of the previous rulers who had cut down the lower classes are dead. It symbolizes the working class triumphing through the revolution. From than on through generations would live happier.
Because of the role of montage and in Stephen Hart’s article what he calls ideational, Eisenstein’s own emotions come out quite a bit. They do through how he is portraying Mexico. He shows his love of culture and the building of that culture. He shows that through starting at the most basic history of Mexico and that is the Mayan. It also helps to build a basis of a strong indigenous group with a strong culture. If this is described well than the death of that culture at the hands of a white European is even greater. Also, Eisenstein’s interest in ritual is shown quite a bit. In many of the sections he uses Mexican rituals to tell the story instead of himself. One of these scenes is the Fiesta, also the marriage ceremony in the third section.
Like many of the other films, the use of symbolism is strong. In the section entitled the Maquey Cactus when Sebastian comes and takes Maria back to the plantation she is riding on a donkey much like Mary and Joseph. But, instead of Maria’s son being sacrificed it is Maria herself. She will taken unfairly and have to sacrifice for the greater good. But, the message that would have been carried further in the Soldadera section is that her sacrifice one made by so many women during the revolution would have been for a greater good. Eventually generations would have escaped the rigid plantation and dictatorship that is described in The Course of Mexican History. But, through Eisenstein’s very well done portrayal the viewer is able to get the view even further that, “The dichotomies of nineteenth-century Mexican life, especially those of wealth and poverty, are almost all to be found on the hacienda.”
Till next week,