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Mexico in the films of Luis Buñuel
Dissertation Presented by
Elsa Barreda Ruiz
Home University: Università degli studi di Bergamo Supervisor at Home University: Prof. Stefano Ghislotti Facoltà di lingue e letterature straniere Semester 2 University: University of St Andrews Supervisor at Semester 2 University: Prof. Bernard P. E. Bentley School of Modern Languages / Spanish Department Semester 4 University: Universidade Nova de Lisboa Supervisor at Semester 4 University: Prof. Fernanda de Abreu Departamento de Línguas, Culturas e Literaturas Modernas Secção de Estudos Espanhóis, Franceses e Italianos
Lisbon, June 2007
A mis padres
Introduction……………………………………………………………………................4 Chapter one Mexican Cinema and the Idea of a Nation 1.1 The Mexican Revolution and the Birth of Nationalism…………..………….6 1.2. The construction of a national identity……………………………………..11 1.3. The Golden Age of Mexican cinema……………………………………….13 1.4. Ideology and the allegories of Mexicanidad………………………………..17 Chapter two Luis Buñuel in Mexico 2.1. Antecedents of Luis Buñuel’s Artistic Trajectory………………………… 21 2.2 Luis Buñuel and the Mexican Film Industry………………………............. 25 2.3 Buñuel’s Mexico: Cultural Encounters and Continuities…………………...29 Chapter three Mexico in the Films of Luis Buñuel 3.1 Analysis of Susana, La ilusión viaja en tranvía and El río y la muerte….... 34 3.2 Patriarchy and the Mexican Family: Susana………………………………..36 3.3 Modernity, class and the illusion of change: La ilusión viaja en tranvía…..40 3.4 Machismo and the State: El río y la muerte……………………………….. 46 3.5 Female Desire: Susana, Lupita, Mercedes….................................................50 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………55 Annexe Luis Buñuel’s Mexican Filmography…………………………………………………...56 Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………….66
and that influence the outcome of his work. we go through the elements that favoured cinema as a pivotal medium for the construction of a national identity and the endorsement of the ideology of the post revolutionary governments.Introduction This is a work that studies the Mexican films of Luis Buñuel. In it. It is evident. these films give account of formal. and therefore can also be analysed as cultural texts that reflect on a particular socioeconomic context. Yet. in very few occasions has the dialectic relationship between the author and the culture of this country been considered subject of study and nor have the films of this period of the director’s career been regarded as representative of Mexican cinema or Mexican culture. concentrating on the ways they were permeated by Mexican history and culture and how the author adapted to the context of Mexican film industry by appropriating the diverse cultural traits into his work. set out from the consideration that the ways in which Buñuel adapted to the Mexican cinema narrative paradigm provide with an understanding of the way he saw and embrace his adoptive country and therefore we pose the question of what is then. his native country’s literary tradition and his particularly Spanish sense of irony and humour. that in these films Luis Buñuel managed to capture the essence of Mexican idiosyncrasy and merge it with features of his artistic background. however. the Mexico that can be read in his films? The first chapter is an overview of the historical antecedents that gave rise to Mexican nationalism and of the development of the film industry during the years known as the Golden Age. therefore. aesthetic. His capacities as a film director matured in this country. We have. Luis Buñuel directed 21films in Mexico. we describe how this was accomplished through the delineation of a set of aesthetic and ideological values that constituted the narrative paradigm trademark of national cinema 4 . ideological characteristics that are specific of the Mexican film industry and particular to the period of the Golden Age. where he made many of his most outstanding films. Moreover.
La ilusión viaja en tranvía and El río y la muerte. This study is informed by feminist. artistic trajectory. In them we analyse the different ways in which Buñuel saw and embraced the culture of his adoptive country. By analysing some of these readings.Chapter two focuses on Buñuel’s artistic trajectory and the way his Mexican work has been regarded by critical readings. we sort out the difficulties of analysing the work of an auteur and surrealist artist within the context of a national cinema largely regarded as constrictive and ideologically dominant. 5 . We intend to widen these precepts in order to see Buñuel’s Mexican films as cultural texts that cannot be separated from the context in which they were made but that are also embodiments and reflection of the author’s specific choices. and personal condition as exile. Chapter three comprises the analysis of three of Buñuel’s Mexican films: Susana. historical and psychoanalytic analyses of Mexican national cinema. adapted as reading strategies to look for the ways in which Buñuel’s films converge or differ with classic Mexican films whilst also functioning as a reflection of his personal point of view.
Many argue that much of this was accomplished by the party’s consistent cultural policies.Chapter one Mexican Cinema and the Idea of a Nation 1. The Mexican Revolution occurred very early in the twentieth century and in circumstances that drastically separates Mexican history from the history of most of the countries in the region of Latin America. following the war of independence and that still dragged elements from the colonial system that had not yet completely been eradicated. popular movement that is considered to be major rupture in the course of Mexican history. In opposition to this. the emergence of mass mobilisation and popular participation in political affairs and the conformation of a solid –if authoritarian and self perpetrating– political party came quite precociously to Mexican history and prevented Mexico from undergoing the series of failed revolutions that carried with them totalitarian and militarised governments across Latin America later in the century. totalitarian and repressive mechanisms that left room for little explicit dissidence. and indeed one thing that characterises Mexican society under the institutionalised revolution political system is the common. but indeed the outcomes of Mexican revolution. 2005: 12). The revolution is the event that eventually catapulted the country into a complex process of modernisation and also set the bases for the political delineation of twentieth century Mexico. Mexico enjoyed a relatively calm process of transition to democracy.1 The Mexican Revolution and the Birth of Nationalism The Mexican Revolution was a social. (Noble. but keeping hold of authoritarian. an event that came to break all the established structures that were settled in the form of a republic in the nineteenth century. by maintaining a status quo difficult to place in the concepts of modern democracy: the party that was in the power for over seventy years managed to maintain peace and a certain amount of freedom. 6 . It can be fairly argued that any country’s history is particular. social acceptance of governmental authority to apply social order and maintain a ‘peaceful’ status quo in exchange of social justice and economic equality. especially before the 1970s.
as was the call to arms of Francisco I. The struggle. 1 We are concentrating on the writings of Octavio Paz (1993) but on this conception we can also see John Womack (1968) and Carlos Fuentes (2000) 7 . Madero. In it. (Womack 1968: 17) Díaz was known for constantly promising his resignation and free elections. each group following its leader and brandishing its own specific demands. The struggle for land dates back to the ancient tradition of the indigenous past that gave land a transcendental importance and of which values were transmitted from generation to generation. and people adhered to it so fiercely because they searched the restitution of the core of their communal and social organisation. Díaz’s regime was characterised by authoritarian and repressive policies exerted to hold central power and by his particular interest in the material modernisation of the country. He had commanded the construction of the railway system (entrusted to European companies) whilst at the same time neglecting the precarious situation of abject misery in which most of the population survived. but his 78 years of age seemed to say this time he meant it. The revolution came then to overthrow the regime of Díaz.The Mexican Revolution exploded after a pivotal interview President Porfirio Díaz. in a first instance. as it has been suggested by many scholars1. gave to American journalist James Creelman from the popular Pearson’s Magazine in February 1908. were kept in the hands of a few privileged families who preserved the feudal and casts system that prevailed from colonial times and that even dragged with it traits from pre-Columbian hierarchical organization. Wealth and land. which was as varied and diverse as were the injustices put on them. instead. with the main objective of establishing a true democracy. and. however. did not emerge as a planned and organised movement led by Madero and his elite group holding a specific ideology. gathering the general discontent that reigned among the population. Díaz said he would definitely abandon his charge once his ruling period was finished. Popular demands transcended the elemental and the immediate. it exploded simultaneously in several places throughout the country. who had held power for 32 years. the main drive of the revolution was the claim for the restitution of land. a wealthy landowner from the northern state of Coahuila who became president on the defeat of Díaz. Different outbursts grouped then regionally.
and preparing a new constitution and had political aspirations. but most particularly from the Mexican liberal movement of the 1850s. the groups led by Pancho Villa were mainly ranchers who adhered more easily –though not quite. 1993: 33 [The Mexican revolution was not guided by theories of egalitarianism: it was possessed by a passion both egalitarian and communitarian. the movement was mainly agrarian. thus it cannot be easily put down as a winning-losing situation among groups: The leaders of the different factions were all victims of subsequent political assassinations by their 8 .to the lineaments of the bourgeois middle-class leaders from the urban centres. This diversity of factions would influence dramatically the course of the revolution and determine its outcome after ten years of devastating civil war. a movement that followed European ideals and had been influenced by the French Revolution and the Independence of the United States. the revolution was riven by the diversity of the factions that compounded it. an army of campesinos led by the charismatic leader Emiliano Zapata had raised in an authentic and politically disinterested quest for the disintegration of the feudal system by which they had been perpetually stripped of their lands.] Being a movement that had a profound popular impulse. on the other hand.Mexican thinker Octavio Paz (1993) suggests that the spontaneity of the popular movement is what separates it drastically from the revolutions of the nineteenth century across Latin America. In the south. The origins of this passion are not in modern ideas but in the traditions of indigenous communities prior to the Conquest and in the evangelic Christianity of the missioners. [A la revolución mexicana] no la guió una teoría de la igualdad: estaba poseída por una pasión igualitaria y comunitaria. Los orígenes de esta pasión están no en las ideas modernas sino en la tradición de las comunidades indígenas anteriores a la Conquista y en el cristianismo evangélico de los misioneros Paz. in the north. The struggle was far more complicated than a fight between oppressors and liberators. however.
whilst also trying to build a political compromise that would include and satisfy. bureaucratisation and economic development. -defined by Octavio Paz as a group of politicians and technocrats. leaving the new government in hands of General Plutarco Elías Calles. Other than carrying on with a political compromise. The social tissue of the new nation had. With very different protagonists from the ones that starred the first stage of the Revolution. en menor grado. as it had been up until this point. the real protagonist of the revolution. who established a mechanism of political continuity that searched to maintain the power in the hands of the bourgeois. “not as an elite. background to the project for the new nation that held as main objective the political stability of the country and its modernisation and economic development. 1993: 35) [Groups and minorities that had been excluded both from the New-Spain and Republican societies (…) peasant communities and. however. the leader of the Constitutionalists was assassinated. the popular movement turned shortly into an institutional regime with the creation of the PNR (Partido Nacional Revolucionario. the leaders of the new governments had also to face up one of the most important legacies of the revolution: the rise of the pueblo. bourgeois concept. The end of the armed struggle saw then the beginning of the so-called period of institutionalisation of the revolution in which. the demands of the other factions. but a popular construct embodied in the masses” (Noble. changed dramatically. on a lesser degree. after the creation of a ‘revolutionary’ party Calles and the subsequent governments would apply policies of nationalisation. that would later become the PRI. and the triumphant rise of the middle class Constitutionalists in 1917 was received with strong opposition by Zapata’s army in the south and Villa’s instigation of a guerrilla war in the north. Partido de la Revolución Institucional) a party of state that would govern Mexico uninterruptedly for seventy-one years ant that set the bases for an authoritarian political culture. and that until then had been ignored in every period of Mexican history: “grupos y minorías que habían sido excluídos tanto de la sociedad novohispana como de la republicana […] comunidades campesinas y. a las minorías indígenas” (Paz. 2005: 10). at least until a certain extent. the indigenous minorities] 9 . In 1920 Carranza.contestants.
noting. Modernisation. the masses had also to be educated and bridged to the new forms of socialisation ensued by modern practices.” (Noble.Indeed. at the same time. 2005: 12) 10 . it had to extend its arms of influence to every corner of social interaction. did not arrive all at once and the policies of urbanisation and industrialisation had to coexist with the big wounds that ten years of civil war had left in society: the loosening of the family bonds due to immense death toll and population shift from one place to another. secularisation. the prevalence of the social order. in the form sindicatos. […] these relationships must be understood in terms of accommodations and negotiations between the various sectors in society. however. however. the almost paralytic state of agricultural economy and the disintegration of traditional forms of socialisation related to the immediate. The PRI applied policies derived from the claims of the revolution. and to do so. that it is “important not to over exaggerate the notion that culture is a top-down hegemonic construct imposed on the masses fro above. manifested in social banditry. Instead. town councils. 2005: 10) and with which the new governments saw themselves dealing with. the toppling of Díaz and the subsequent ten years of struggle that defined the direction of the revolution had involved a level of mass mobilisation with which came “new popular forces. At the same time it concocted a complex hierarchical system that did not differ much from that that had been just overthrown. and education reforms. peasant leagues and embryonic political parties of both Right and Left” (Knight. sindicatos and mutualist societies. Therefore. guerrilla and conventional armies. quoted in Noble. communal groups who reinforced and promoted recurrent image of the big “familia revolucionaria” a great revolutionary family where ‘father government’ was to provide for the population’s (and this always meant the masses) well being. A strong bureaucratic mechanism guaranteed the adherence of every small community to the party. such as agrarian reform. In this process culture and the mass media played an extremely valuable role as it has been argued by Andrea Noble (2005) who goes even further arguing the State’s cultural politics articulated the different media into a project of state that ensured. rural community.
He is given credit for modern indigenismo. He exalted. It developed the aggrandising and dramatic aesthetics that characterise Mexican art and that would remain as reference for further artistic expressions. the quintessential Mexican-ness as embodied in the mestizo race. who debated between the ideas of progress and capitalism and the influence of socialism and the Russian revolution. rough prose. mainly protectionist. the governmental. music. policies regarding the Indian population. on the other hand. direct and sometimes crude that gave shape to the ‘novela de la revolución’. reinterpret and exalt the revolution and definitely the movement that passed Mexican cinema its aesthetic and ideological referents. and replaced it with a more realistic. also minister of education (1921-1923) who had propelled an important educational reform and promoted the redefinition of government policies regarding Indian communities. The revolution put an end to the naturalist literature that had predominated in the nineteenth century. The armed struggle stirred the creativity and the thought of intellectuals and artists. the novel of the revolution that would influence decisively the course of modern Mexican literature. The construction of a national identity The social effervescence of the revolution contributed to the birth of one of the most important cultural and intellectual movements of Mexican history. Muralism can be taken as the art form that embodies Mexico’s many times contradictory approach towards its search for identity. moreover.1.2. and that was very much influenced by European literary schemes. in the field of the plastic arts. the decades following the revolution saw the emergence of Muralism. and much of the path followed by Mexican classic cinema could not be understood without taking muralism into account. The muralist movement was mainly supported by philosopher José Vasconcelos. Muralism was perhaps the artistic expression that embodies Mexico’s systematic desire to interpret. one of Mexico’s most distinctive pictorial movements. cinema and the plastic arts all would be profoundly marked by the aesthetics of the revolution. Literature. the ultimate convergence 11 . Its importance as pictorial movement ranges from aesthetics to politics. the movement was fundamental for the ideological reconstruction of the revolution in Mexican history and collective memory.
acknowledged and exalted in their work the participation of the masses in the revolution. The rise of the mass media also contributed for the consolidation of these postrevolutionary ideals. Muralism gathered much of Vasconcelos’ ideology and served the purpose of bringing art and education to the masses. Diego Rivera.of both Hispanic and pre-Columbian culture in what he called la raza cósmica. Governmental cultural policies adopted also this ideological paradigm to welcome the masses to the new project of state: the figures of the uttermost popular leaders of the revolution. were stripped of any political stigma and mystified as fallen heroes for the people. The masses were recognised as keepers of the essence of Mexican-ness because they were the ones who had defended it throughout history. a medium whose development already had a long history of ups and downs since its arrival to Mexico in 1896. the ‘cosmic race’. and the masses were then portrayed as a compound of the oppressed groups that carried with them the culture and tradition of ancient Indian civilisation. radio and increasingly cinema [that] began to insinuate themselves into everyday Mexican experience” (Noble. David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. comic books. common imaginary. forging and broadcasting a national. 2005: 11). emerged as both the public and the government’s favourite medium. and intended to place them as protagonists in the centre of the historical paradigm as they have never been before. and different media emerged to fulfil this need in the form of “tabloid newspapers. cinema started recovering 12 . but they were both Indian and mestizo. Modern forms of socialisation implied the birth of cultural consumerism. Villa and Zapata. and now they were to be kept safe as children of the revolutionary patriarch: the system. Cinema. when all the incipient developments of the industry were abruptly cut. had fought the independence war a century earlier to bring down Spanish rule and were the ones who fought the revolution to recover their ancient and mystical right to land and freedom. they merged different historical symbols that had come to surface as part of the imaginary of the revolution. Its major exponents. After a deep drawback during the revolution. To do so.
in great paces. taking advantage of a brief halt in Hollywood industry due to the advent of sound.1969: 20) 13 . who rejected these products and even considered them to be offensive and denigrating (García Riera . only one year after Santa’s release. a Mexican and an Argentine were members of the same family!) this created confusion to Spanish-speaking audiences. the Mexican film industry produced twenty-one films. inaugurated in 1936 by Fernando de Fuentes’ Allá en el rancho grande. in which Hispanic actors from different nationalities performed together (sometimes a Spanish. Several of the films of this first stage of the Mexican film industry took form and exploited many of the themes and ideals of the new nation. who first appeared on Mexican screens as Santa (Antonio Moreno.3 The Golden Age of Mexican cinema Perhaps cinema could not have served so efficiently to the consolidation of Mexico’s hegemonic system had it not been caught in the middle of a financial miracle 2 In order not to lose the income of the important Spanish-speaking audiences. the family melodrama. making it the leading producer of Spanish-language films in the world) it would take one more decade for Mexican film industry to consolidate as the country’s third major industry. who were rejecting sound films with subtitles (the rate of illiteracy was particularly high in the 1920s) Hollywood started producing ‘Hispanic’ films. the urban comedy (especially those of Mario Moreno ‘Cantinflas’) and the most successful genre of all. It started taking hold of the market gap left by the absence of appealing Hollywood films 2 and of the incursion of actors and other workers of the industry that had trained in Hollywood. such as the good-hearted prostitute melodrama. inventor of traditions and nourishment “in one or another [of] the diverse social groups that inhabit Mexico” (Ramírez Berg. the main exporter of cultural images and the creator of customs. portraying an optimistic image of cosmopolitanism and unity. the Comedia Ranchera. Even though the consistent blooming of the film industry (in 1933. 1992: 1) 1. 1932) and would give way to the later cabaretera films. In the same way this period saw the emergence of many of the stylistic formulas and thematics that were to be constantly re-elaborated throughout the history of Mexican cinema.
Mexico became a faithful market partner both consumer of filming products and films and Mexico had a cleared Spanish-speaking market where Hollywood’s absence was to be filled. were not being receptive to Hollywood films as they did not feel identified with the war cause. In its first year it extended credits of 5 million pesos to small. when political and economic factors influenced its development and contributed for its becoming of a true industry. It was evident by the creation of this entity that the endorsement of the national film industry was a main objective of President Ávila Camacho’s government (1940-1946). 59) Only a few years before. (Mora 1992. Seventy films were produced in 1943. while Argentina’s output declined sharply to thirty-six motion pictures. among the other two big film industries in the Spanish-speaking world. In 1942. Latin American audiences. In 1943 the Banco Cinematográfico was founded. This move functioned well for both sides. The national industry was resenting the shortage on raw film and other filming products imposed by the United States due to the practical use of the material used for their fabrication in the making of arms. The position that the Mexican government adopted during the war was the factor that most tellingly beneficed Mexican film industry. made it the only country. The adherence of Mexico to the Allies. The Mexican government shortly realised the importance of supporting the development o the film industry. on the other hand. the state had guaranteed a loan to 14 .boosted by the Second World War. President Manuel Ávila Camacho declared war against the Axis power giving Mexico entrance to the conflict on the side of the Allied. and Hollywood studios were suffering the loss of one of its most important marketplaces. Spain and Argentina (who declared neutral during the war). which held 10 percent of its stock. undercapitalized producers and within two years it had boosted the Mexican production and helped it become a true industry. that could have access to raw film. after the attack of two Mexican oil ships by German submarines. then. it began as a private institution backed by official agencies like the Banco de México and Nacional Financiera. where mainly propaganda films were being produced. This decision saved Mexican cinema from virtual extinction. The sales of raw film were limited for Hollywood production.
“copied from Spanish theatre or from Hollywood” (Ramírez Berg. cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and scriptwriter Mauricio Magdaleno. set in endless and vast landscapes constituted the trademark of what is known as classic Mexican cinema. He also established. arguably the director who most successfully projected an ideal image of the nation and whose epic stories. Roberto Gavaldón and Ismael Rodríguez. When Fernández began directing after having pursued a career as an actor where he usually played the role of an Indian (hence his nickname. This gave rise to a dynamic economic partnership of nationalized industry and private enterprise that continues to characterize the Mexican film industry to this day. One of the representative figures of the Mexican cinema of this period is Emilio “El Indio” Fernández. Emilio Fernández effectively managed to convey the nationalist sentiments that had been gathering since the revolution in other artistic expressions and the ideological traits that were inherent to this nationalism. Pedro Armendáriz. Andrea Palma. “El Indio”). Mario Moreno ‘Cantinflas’. Arturo de Córdova y Dolores del Río became the equivalent to the big Hollywood names and attracted audiences steadily into the cinemas. a distinctive narrative style that converged with the characteristic visual lyricism of strong Eisenstenian influence and the art of the muralist painters of the 1920s and 30s. The cinema of El Indio was therefore carrier of great ideological hues that reinforced the progressive force of modernisation whilst also exalting the Indian component of Mexican society in an idealised and romanticised representation of Indian characters and of Mexico’s rural landscape. he chased the ideal of creating a vital national cinema that would tell Mexican stories that were about Mexicans and for Mexicans. he believed that until then Mexican cinema had been derivative and lacked imagination. in collaboration with his working team. 1994: 14). Sara García. Fernando y Andrés Soler. and the consolidation of a star system as never seen in the context of Spanish-speaking cinema: María Félix.finance the construction of the first modern film studio in Mexico City in 1934. The boom of Mexican cinema favoured the emergence of a new generation of directors like Emilio Fernández. Jorge Negrete. Estudios Churubusco. Joaquín Pardavé. Julio Bracho. His cinema skilfully projected a set of 15 .
the son of a wealthy landowner who falls in love with Esperanza (Dolores del Río) a poor peasant girl. post revolutionary nation that was well articulated into a capitalist system and mainly of mestizo compound. argues Andrea Noble (2005: 59-60). The social impediment for the couple is such that the young couple is obliged to elope. The revolution is seen as the painful birth of a new generation of families who are able to live in the more just and equitable society envisioned and created by 16 . Using memory as a narrative device is frequent in period films for a specific purpose. The plot is darkened by the cruelty of the revolution but the film glimpses of hope are embodied in the José Luis and Esperanza’s son. The film tells the story of José Luis (Pedro Armendáriz). Esperanza and her son are the “Symbolic embodiments of the new society engendered by the revolution” and their going back ideologically places the spectator in a superior. His cinema also conveyed a message that secured the protectionist role of the state as centre of the social order by legitimising the figure of the patriarchal family institution by which all social structures were defined. A good example of this is Fernández’s first film Flor Silvestre (1943). The work of Fernández has been defined by many critics as monolithic. a revolutionary melodrama that deals with the issue of the clash of social casts that existed in the feudal system before the revolution. already better period. They marry and have a child but the revolution breaks cutting short their idyllic marriage. that cost the lives of those who fought. he dies in combat whilst Esperanza is left to her fortune. for the way it represents society is mainly static and hieratic. intending to legitimise the social and political status achieved by the post revolutionary governments. one that looks back to reinterpret history from an ideological standpoint.values that collected symbols and mythologies of the many Mexicos that emerged from the revolution and catapulted them into an ideal of a modern. daughter of a peon who works in José Luis’ estate. and aesthetic exaltation of the landscape and the prominence given to strongly typified characters convey a onedimensional idea of a nation. José Luis leaves for battle on the side of the revolutionaries. to whom the story is told in retrospective by his aging mother.
sacred place where they do not interfere with the prevalence of the new mestizo and modern order. 2005: 60 By the 1940s the revolution had “undergone a process of institutionalisation and passed into the domains of collective memory” (Noble. Ideology and the allegories of Mexicanidad Many critics have studied the ideological impact of the Mexican film industry of the classic period and the ways it managed to cluster a number of ideological precepts that endorsed the preservation of the political and social post-revolutionary order.4. analyse the melodramas Salón México. Saragoza and Graciela Berkovich (1994). 2005: 49) and films like Fernández’s contributed to the prevailing of the specific values promoted by governmental policies. Mistron. whereby a discreet delineation of typified familial and gender roles emerged as a common referential network of signs that 17 . exploring the ways in which they presented the official version of history through the affirmation of stereotypes. as in María Candelaria (1943). the State and National Identity. Nosotros los pobres. Alex M. quoted in Noble. Flor silvestre is able to affirm the traditional values of the melodrama –the family and the fatherland – at the same time that it affirms radical social changes. (Saragoza et al 1994: 25). though not necessarily through the explicit involvement of the Mexican state in the film industry but via an implicit consensus between the state and the audience.those who came before. for the painful transitional phase is set in the past and is shown to contain the seeds of a new and better present. In their essay Intimate Connections: Cinematic Allegories of Gender. and Flor Silvestre as documents of the conservative ideology of the Mexican state. 1. As a result. that included as well the exaltation of Indians in a poetic way that placed them in a distant. Saragoza and Berkovich argue that Mexican films often mediated the textual. archetypical characters that reinforced the prevalence established order. political and economic relationships between the state and national identity through the transmission of gendered allegories.
it also helped to dilute. if only in the imaginary. other scholars have argued that the essential allegories that allowed this mechanism lie on the way the family. As Saragoza and Berkovich. This theoretical framework will allow for the analysis of the films in chapter three and also as an outline of the aesthetic and ideological platform to which Luis Buñuel adapted at his arrival to the Mexican film industry. class and ethnicity whereas promoting their inexorable immobility. but with its accomplishment. the ubiquity of melodrama made somehow easy to reproduce these allegories in the different cinematic styles. Mexican cinema insistently portrayed a society that lived harmoniously in despite differences across gender. and therefore the place where all forms of socialisation of the members of a nation are moulded and individual roles of men and woman are defined. the economic system and the roles of women and men were represented. It is the mediation between the state and the individual. Hershfield (1996) and Saragoza and Berkovich (1994). composed primarily of simple plots with standard endings that idealised the family and endorsed traditional morality through archetypical representations of gender roles. Ideology. • Family. This accepted status quo promoted the development of particular genres and cinematic formulas constituted the paradigm of Mexican cinema. 18 . (1992) reveals itself in each of these archetypes.was unquestionably accepted. argues Ramírez Berg. period films and even adaptations of novels or plays. (Saragoza and Berkovich. namely comedies. In Mexican films. The following is a description of these archetypes and the way they functioned as carriers of ideology as identified by Ramirez Berg (1992. the strains caused by the country’s multilayered and despaired social composition. 1994). 1994: 27) This ideological consensus not only helped maintain the State’s hegemonic influence in the many aspects of private and public life. In this way. and its projection of the key issues of mexicanidad reveal the conflicting nature of Mexico’s history as well as of its social composition. the patriarchal institution The family is the basic unit of society.
it is the ultimate force by which all characters’ lives is governed. but also they must accept the status quo in order to maintain “legitimate mexicanidad. • Capitalism The economic system in Mexican films was usually portrayed as a given and unalterable fact. “Such messages suggest not only that the Poor should stay where they are in order not to lose their humanity and the ability to care and feel for others. Seen as inherited manifestation of the post revolutionary government. 1941). argues Ramírez Berg. family is the microcosm of society. is “automatically suspect. machismo is an entrenched social-sexual tradition in 19 .” (Ramírez Berg. and money is best understood as a corrupting force: there are all sorts of troubles if the working class can expect it consorts with the upper class or aspires to rise in class stature. In many cases he system can be read as the ultimate antagonistic force that prevents the characters of achieving happiness for it puts pressure on individuals. who must live by the norms of an inherently flawed system “Mexico’s capitalistic status quo”. This is better exemplified by films as Cuando los hijos se van (Juan Bustillo Oro. The lower class is portrayed as the ultimate bearer of mexicanidad. 1995: 22) • Class An insistent message of social stasis runs under the classic paradigm of Mexican films. Patriarchal rules are passed on from generation to generation as men grow into manhood. for the system is the result of a bloody revolution that was supposed to reform Mexican life yet changed little” (Ramírez Berg. but the same features are respected and can be read implicitly in almost every Mexican melodrama. 1995: 25) • Machismo Reinforced by the patriarchal institution and metonymically also by an ideological agreement with the state.In Mexican cinema. where patriarchal authority is unquestioned and absolute. It is within the universe of the family that all the values of Mexican-ness are engendered and guarded. even when it is exercised unjustly.
the male gains a favoured place in the patriarchal system while the state accumulates political might. for women are expected to be not only virginal. the whore refers to the historical figure of La Malinche. the male receives a secure identity and the state receives his allegiance. the Indian princess who worked as interpreter for Cortés and who is considered the ‘primordial traitoress’ of Mexico. a woman must remove herself from the sphere of sexual pleasure. “Because of her. On the ideological level. but ‘Virginlike’ “emulating the Virgin of Guadalupe. feminine sexual pleasure is linked in the Mexican consciousness not only with prostitution but with national betrayal. Their representation is always inscribed in the paradoxical virgin-whore paradigm. women in Mexican cinema –and in Mexican imaginary. • Women Derived from the outline given by the patriarchal family. long-suffering mother. (Ramírez Berg. 1995: 24) To avoid being perceived as a traitor. Paz and others have argued. 20 . the spiritual patroness of Mexico” (Ibid) and in counterpart. the concept has unique characteristics because of the additional “expectations tradition and history have placed upon Mexican women” (Ramírez Berg.Mexican society in which the figure of the male is always associated to a position of power and the endorsement of masculinity. who sold out her people to the Spanish conquerors. only in the Mexican case. 1995: 23). exist only to give pleasure to men. In Mexican movies –and in Mexican life—the most common nontreacherous role is that of the asexual.
after having been impressed by Fritz Lang’s Der Müde Tod. painter Salvador Dalí and other people who would later be outstanding intellectuals or artists of the so-called “Generación del 27”. financed by the director’s mother. the film that portrayed the delirium of amour fou so much praised in the surrealist circle and whose blatant anticlericalism and denounce against social hypocrisy provoked intense polemic in the Paris of the time. he published some poems and prose before turning into cinema.1. where he dwelled at the “Residencia de Estudiantes”. creacionism and ultraism. The film’s contents and the public’s reaction are examples of what would accompany Buñuel throughout his career. leaving stated like this. in the province of Teruel at the beginning of the twentieth century. Thanks to this success he managed to get sponsorship from a couple of aristocrats for his next film L’Age d’or (1930). an interest that would always be with him and that would be fundamental for his approach to cinema). He received a Catholic education with the Jesuits of Zaragoza just before leaving for Madrid. a few cinematographic concepts and considerations on the medium that later on his life would refuse to express. Seduced by avant-garde poetry (i. In 1925 he moved to Paris where he had the chance to collaborate as film critic for publications in both Paris and Madrid. a film hat would give him entrance to the group. 21 . Antecedents of Luis Buñuel’s Artistic Trajectory Luis Buñuel is one of the most important figures in the history of cinema. Attracted by the surrealist movement. he gathered with Salvador Dalí to write the script of Un Chien andalou (1929).Chapter two Luis Buñuel in Mexico 2. The film. the student’s resident where also lived poet Federico García Lorca. received eloquent praises by intellectuals and filmmakers of the Parisian scene and beyond like Russian director Eisenstein. Born in Calanda. He is director of a series of very personal films in which it is evident the influence of the surrealist movement and most crude Spanish realism. Buñuel was son of a rich ‘Indiano’ who had made his fortune in Cuba.e.
Rapidly bored. Buñuel’s films would always come back to this primordial couple that is driven by the desire of getting together but stopped continuously by moral. In 1942 he was fired because of rumours concerning his previous allegiance to the Communist party in Paris. He did learn. Buñuel was appointed another film by Dancigers. two of the most renowned stars of the then flourishing Mexican film industry. Buñuel continued working in Spain as a dubbing supervisor for Paramount and Warner studios and held an executive position in Filmófono. He moved south then. on the other hand. His fame caught the attention of Hollywood producers. a state-fund producing company that attempted to give boost to Spain’s film industry with commercial quality filmmaking. where he was supposed to observe and learn the techniques of studio filmmaking. 1935). and more explicitly. In 1938 Buñuel immigrated to the United States where he worked as a film editor for the New York Museum of Modern Art. but also found no interest on it. Buñuel went back to Spain after a while. but the project was interrupted with the outbreak of the Civil War. He produced several films and supervised the direction of others (among which Don Quintín el amargao. who offered him a sort of internship at the Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios. tierra sin pan (1932). a family melodrama that was a large box-office success and marked the beginning of a long list of films made against 22 . El gran calavera (1949). Banned by Spain’s new republican government.In one way or another. but Buñuel stayed in Mexico living on a monthly allowance sent by his mother. he accepted the proposition of Mexican producer Oscar Dancigers to direct a couple of films in Mexico. Unemployed and without having worked as a director for almost fifteen years. where he shot the gripping and strongly criticised documentary Las Hurdes. The film was a financial failure. because his employers learned that he was the author of L’Age d’or. for it is a film that combines elements of surrealism (embedded in the film’s fatalist narrative) with stark realism and bleak treatment of facts. this was not to going be the last time one of his films raised polemic and scandal. His job consisted of cropping and assembling documentaries for war propaganda. religious and social norms. Las Hurdes is considered pivotal in the career of Buñuel. Almost three years later. and in 1946 shot Gran Casino (1947) starring Jorge Negrete and Libertad Lamarque.
as well as an ability of directing at an incredibly fast rhythm. Urdimalas had written the characteristic dialogues that determined much of the success of urban comedies like Ismael Rodríguez’s Nosotros los pobres (1948) and Ustedes los ricos (1948) From then on. Abismos de pasión (1953). 1969: 188) Buñuel liked the project. what Buñuel would call “películas alimenticias” (bread-and-butter films) and that make up the majority of his Mexican filmography. Dancigers proposed Buñuel to make a ‘real film’ and allowed him total liberty to search for the subject. among the most renowned of this first period are. made under the 23 . He directed 21 films. he had written a script entitled ¡Mi huerfanito jefe! (My orphan boss!). He began a deeper investigation and gathered some real stories from the reformatory to write the script. In both cases he developed a personal style that explored different themes and stories within the realm of melodrama. observing the lives of the marginalised that dwelled in Mexico City’s slums. In 1950 he directed Los olvidados a film for which he enjoyed absolute creative freedom as he had not had for a long time. during his first years in Mexico he had walked the streets of the city. The latter. Buñuel’s career would alternate between personal projects and appointed assignments. with appointed scripts and imposed actors. one film after another with extreme efficacy. Buñuel already had it. about a street boy who sold lottery tickets.time. (Aranda. With writer Juan Larrea. less famous but of considerable commercial success within Mexico were Subida al cielo (1951) and Una mujer sin amor (1951) and La ilusión viaja en tranvía (1953). Él (1920). Buñuel made two films in the United States with the collaboration of Hugo Butler Robinson Crusoe in 1952 and The Young One in 1960. Susana (1950). The collaboration of Spanish writer Jesús Camacho (better known as Pedro de Urdimalas) was essential for the portrayal of the typical urban speech of Mexico City. La vida criminal de Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ensayo de un crimen) (1955) and Nazarín (1958). After the commercial success of El gran calavera. Dancigers liked it but was willing to go for something more serious and proposed Buñuel to write a script about Mexico City’s poor children. though his project did not intend to be much more than a conventional melodrama.
when the film was released. a film based on the story of Simeón el Estilita. the religious authorities were scandalised and demanded Buñuel’s excommunication. Nevertheless. seeks refuge in an island in the Mississippi River where a young girl and her racist guardian live. though its fame also comes from the difficulties experienced at the time of the shooting. The film received bad criticism in the United States because of its ambiguity in dealing with the issue of racism. full of inexplicable repetitions and surrealist situations that build up in a crescendo and burst in a final sarcastic laugh. a period in which low budgets. with the characters moving back and forth in the realms of guilt. after having been unjustly accused of raping a white woman. the Spanish government abducted the film from its circulation in Spain and only a few copies that were circulating abroad were saved. The film is indeed a delirious portrayal of the hypocrisy of social norms in a feast of entrapment and desire. and it has been widely praised by critics and international audiences. nevertheless. tells the story of a black man that. The former is considered one of the most acid critiques to the bourgeoisie. violence and desire. The budget was cut out in the middle of the shooting and many of the scenes had to be left out. time shortages. received attention and applauses for its irreverence and iconoclastic portrayal of religious symbols. however. a Syrian ascetic who stood on top of a column with no food or water and as thought to perform miracles. it is. As stated in an opportune comment by 24 . it is. imposed scripts and actors were the norm. in an attempt to please the international criticism to the regime’s censorship policies.production of George P. the film had to do without several effects and especial features. in the same way. In 1961 he directed a film in Spain for the first time in 30 years. It was awarded the Palm d’or in Cannes in 1962. Buñuel would direct two more films in Mexico: El ángel exterminador (1962). The shooting of Viridiana was permitted by the Francoist government. Simón del desierto. Werker. one of Buñuel’s subtlest portrayals of human nature. reason for which it is considerably short and the ending comes in quite abruptly. and Simón del desierto (1965). one of Buñuel’s best finales. A phase in which Buñuel pulled out outstanding works in despite of the permanent practical difficulties and inconvenient conditions. This episode symbolically closes the Mexican stage of Buñuel’s career.
Como que no había derecho. was not there anybody in the whole Mexican Association of Producers to help him out? Did not Buñuel’s have yet credit in the Banco Nacional Cinematográfico?] From 1963 Buñuel began shooting in France. 25 . Si a Alatriste se le acabó el dinero. his last film. after the end of the war. the Mexican film industry was on its highest peak and about to start its rapid decline. 1984). Belle de Jour (1963) is his first French film of the latter period. Tristana (1970). with the support of Hollywood studios cut out. Le Fantôme de la Liberté (1974) and Cet obscur objet du désir (1977). Mexican film industry lingered on “protectionist laws.2 Luis Buñuel and the Mexican Film Industry When Buñuel arrived to Mexico in 1946.Francisco Sánchez (quoted by Sánchez Vidal. a production based on stereotypes and an organization that excludes renovation in all its aspects” (King. era tratado en su país de adopción como si fuera un director aficionado. the episode shamefully falls on the inefficacy of the decaying Mexican film industry. to it would follow La Voie lactée (1969). If Alatriste had run out of money. semi-obligatory exhibition. There was no right. Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972). where he would work with considerably larger budgets than in Mexico and with total creative freedom. ¿no hubo en toda la asociación mexicana de productores nadie que le entrara al relevo? ¿El talento de Buñuel no tenía aún crédito en el Banco Nacional Cinematográfico? Sánchez Vidal 1984: 286 [The director that had directed nothing less than Viridiana was being treated in his adoptive country as an amateur. 1995: 129). He died in Mexico City on the 30th of July 1983. El director que había realizado Viridiana. attempts to form a monopoly which would finally become a State monopoly. nada menos. 2.
The problem with this was that a motion picture became a vehicle for the star and consequently the director and the script became of secondary concern. and attractive performers appeared who could assure commercial success for even the worst of films. even though in most cases he explored and exploited the genre of melodrama and adapted to the formal structures that were already a routine in the Mexican cinema industry. and it is seen to have remained separated from the dominant modes of Mexican film industry. critics of Buñuel’s work at the time did not expect his trajectory as an artist to take a turn on commercial filmmaking.. 1982: 75 Despite these difficulties Buñuel directed 21 films in Mexico. Susana). The panorama could not be bleaker for the director. within which we also find the usual stylistic attributes that 26 . Subida al cielo. the typical elements that made up the billboards of Mexico and most of Latin America and Spain: urban comedy (La ilusión viaja en tranvía. and many considered it to be “a decline from the excellence of his early work” (Aranda 1975: 146) and on the other hand. charismatic. but also with strong monetary restrictions and very little time for shooting. These films have been difficult to place both in the context of the Mexican cinema industry and in the trajectory of his career. El bruto). The major factor sustaining such a movie industry was the “star system” Mexican producers and directors were indeed fortunate in that during the 1940s and 1950s a fortuitous confluence of talented. Present in his Mexican filmography are. El gran calavera). who not only found himself working with actors whose huge ego interfered with his work.So it meant that the industry in which Buñuel came to work. or family melodramas (La hija del engaño. as offered by Oscar Dancigers was beginning to be less an industry and more a series of aesthetic and bureaucratic impositions that moreover had to be followed without the incentive of monetary gratification. moreover. Una mujer sin amor. Mora. On the one hand. his status as an artist did not allow his work to be considered thoroughly part of Mexican national cinema. rural and ranchera comedy (Gran Casino.
el hombre derrotado por el falso orgullo. Miradas en torno a un género (1995). the stray girl. he says. el bruto de buenos sentimientos” (40) [Susana. for example. Buñuel kept control of his films even though they are populated by characters that can be easily stereotyped: (“Susana. Buñuel’s adscription to the looked-down genre of melodrama and commercial filmmaking caused that for many years the critics left his so-called “minor” works in oblivion. Don Quintín. la chica descarriada. Not until recently has the situation changed. They also argue. the tough guy with good feelings]). acknowledging Buñuel’s keeping of authorial control but underlining the fact that they do adapt to commercial and generic demands. Peter Evans. sexuality. humour and irony […] reworking the auterist thematics through the patterns and drives of the popular cinema” (Evans 1995: 38) A similar approach is taken by Spanish critics Pablo Pérez and Javier Hernández in the article Luis Buñuel y el melodrama. the man defeated by false pride. Subjectivity and Desire. who argue that Buñuel preferred the genre of melodrama as a medium to portray passionate characters and stories that could have well been taken out from the Spanish folletín. “managed to appeal to both large and minor audiences through form. typified characters and a plethora of happy endings.these kind of films contained: musical numbers. Avoiding over-sentimental devices such as close-ups or sympathetic musical backgrounds. Don Quintín. analyse these films searching in them the elements in which Buñuel appropriated and transformed the forms. in his important study The Films of Luis Buñuel. Recent studies of Buñuel’s work in Mexico. due to the revision of the importance of melodrama as a mode of cultural representation. after being for so long “accused of complicity with suspect ideological structures” (Noble 2005: 97) and condemned by critics for several years. Pérez and Hernández argue that these films do not pretend to mock the genre 27 . Buñuel’s films. escapist form of entertainment that appealed primarily to an ‘uncultured’ mass audience”. however. that Buñuel’s use of melodrama was always consciously stripped of its coarse sentimentality. who perceived it as “excessively sentimental. another “género chico” which the director was also fond of. structures and conventions to the genre. (1995) analyses a number of Buñuel’s melodramas within this framework.
From these considerations we can observe how the constant flow of Buñuel’s work. instead. The exceptionality of Buñuel's work in the context of Mexican cinema has provoked that scholars of this national cinema tend to leave him out from their historiographies on the evolution of the cinema industry and the cinematic styles in Mexico. if only on very few films] This is to say that in a way. has made it quite uncomfortable to place and define in the context of Mexican cinema. nevertheless. Whilst his presence in Mexico was fundamental. Ayala Blanco goes even further. este libro quiere responder afirmativamente a la pregunta: ¿queda algo valioso en el cine 28 . and as a rarity. they did not influence much in the development of the style and features of commercial cinema. in return. even photogenic. Mexican film critic and scholar Jorge Ayala Blanco deliberately leaves out the whole work of Luis Buñuel from his extensive Aventura del cine mexicano (1968). Buñuel’s ‘major’ films are considered a rarity among the mass of productions that were made in Mexico on that period. as in Nosotros los pobres (1948). arguing that “el cine del gran realizador español de ninguna manera puede integrarse al desarrollo del cine mexicano y nunca ha conseguido modificar su trayectoria. a film that was initially rejected in Mexico. who considered “offensive” that a foreigner would make such bleak portrait of Mexico City’s Poor. Buñuel used its elements as an excuse to tell stories impregnated of his personal sense of humour and point of view. it was openly welcomed after it received the Palm d’or at Cannes Film Festival. whilst Mexican cinema sacred directors like Ismael Rodríguez could made them look endearing and funny. looked upon as more a Buñuelean film than a Mexican one. to close the argument: “Si se prefiere la hipérbole. whether he followed the established conventions of commercial cinema or not. apenas ha influido sobre algunas películas muy escasas” (Ayala Blanco 1968: 10) [the cinema of the great Spanish director can in no way be included in the development of Mexican cinema and has never influenced on its trajectory. between the limits of high art and lowbrow products. his work is said not to have influenced the trajectory of Mexican filmmaking outside a few selected circles. as was the case of Los olvidados. and his films were often not fully appreciated. both by the critics and the government. Los olvidados is.of melodrama. it rerun in important venues and received official recognition.
when compared with the attention given to the director by the international critics. and Mexican films. His contact with Mexico’s culture. his obsession with religion. Goya and Valle Inclán) features that Buñuel would combine with his constant surrealist optic. The same situation occurred in the case of Spain. for better or worse. This is perhaps the essentialist perspective that Ayala Blanco wishes to avoid. the director was considered to be the only representative. but perhaps in despite of them. In her essay Exile and Ideological Reinscription: The Unique Case of Luis Buñuel (1993). even if not necessarily influenced by films as Los olvidados or El ángel exterminador. Marsha Kinder argues how it is this condition as lifetime exile what contributes to Buñuel’s frequent recognition as the only representative of Spanish cinema abroad (Kinder. Mexican film industry. even though he did not make a single film there between the years of 1935 and 1963. an assumption that creates the myth of a country “in which changes never occur” (291). eroticism. implying with his words that.3 Buñuel’s Mexico: Cultural Encounters and Continuities Buñuel produced most of his films as an exile. 1993: 279). or Hollywood” (291) and we might as well add here “or Mexico’s hegemonic film industry” for just the same could be argued of the director’s case in Mexico. Mexican cinema often passed overlooked. Catholicism. his detailed. shift and evolve. this book intends to respond with a yes to the question ‘is there anything worthy left in Mexican cinema if we take out Luis Buñuel?’] This statement casts light on the fact that. 2.mexicano si quitamos a Luis Buñuel?” (11) [If we prefer the hyperbole. death and the miseries of the human kind are to be found in Spanish realism (Quevedo. the picaresque novel. though not as appealing for international critics (but what mainstream films are?) did develop. almost morbid analysis of established morality and the bourgeoisie. Both influences flourished and mingled with the different environments to which he was exposed. its politics and its conflicting social 29 . but the roots of his humour. freezing as well the image of the director: “it ignores the fact that although he was always subversive he was also a powerful shifter whose meaning changed according to which particular hegemony he was working against –Francoism. absurd and brutal at times.
“the director fought tirelessly on two fronts: on the first to make a poetic. In the same way. On the one hand. it retains its Otherness in both contexts. This is not to imply that Buñuel did not enjoy making those commercial films or that they lack of the director’s personal sensibility. In the same way. he had to establish a dialogue with different forms of expression from those with which he had worked previously. gave him matter for the exploration of new themes and the development of incisive projects in which he imprinted his distinctive personal style. the author reserves a level of authorial control whereby his personal universe permeates the content and the form of this work. personal cinema […] and on the second to project his personal and cultural vision on the commercial cinema within which he was working” (Fuentes 1995: 162). no matter whether that work was an appointed task or a personal project.” (Kinder. As an exile. what results in a certain “indeterminacy”. “When arriving to Mexico” he argues.the result of a series of exiles and reinscriptions into different cultures. Buñuel was a “unique case”. Buñuel’s work is characterised by the director’s perennial condition as an outsider. but that in trying to convey his sensibility. Out of his natal Spain most of his life. In this dialogue Buñuel reworked the conventions of a national cinema to produce films that fulfilled his artistic needs. Buñuel. this universe was in many senses constructed by the artist’s particular condition as an exile. even when mainstream films are circumscribed by ideological constructions. we cannot categorically exclude a consideration of authorial intervention in the case of Buñuel for. yet the traces of a constant quest for what is Spanish. To Marsha Kinder. according to Víctor Fuentes was both an exile and an outsider to the industry of commercial filmmaking. We have argued above that Buñuel’s Mexican films have enough elements to be considered representative of the Mexican film industry. can be found in each one of his films. 1993: 279) Both Kinder and Fuentes agree on the fact that Buñuel’s condition of permanent exile was determinant for the particular representation of the culture of the new country in his films. the whole of his career took place virtually somewhere else.composite. Marsha Kinder underlines as pivotal factor Buñuel’s 30 . Kinder argues that the “discourse of the exile resists the cultural ‘melting pot’ both in the old and new lands.
holds with its 31 . (Fuentes notes as example of this the desire that from early on Buñuel had of “not only to take Nazarín to the big screen. that of the history of longstanding oppression and violence shared by Mexico and Spain. The significant difference that the Mexican version of the film. and the result gives an interest insight on how this cultural reinscription took place in both directions. La hija del engaño (1951). an effort that came as a result of the crisis of national identity that not only Buñuel but also his conational also exiled in Mexico were feeling at the time. For Víctor Fuentes the cultural reinscriptions of the exile are to be read differently in the different stages of the process of assimilation of the exile to the new culture. and perhaps still is. “the colonial past is represented in Buñuel’s constant use of social and class differences” (Kinder. and we would add here that this is because the inquisitive gaze of the outsider did not fail to notice that much of that colonial past authoritarian legacy was still present in the 1950s. starting from the Spanish literary and theatrical tradition in an attempt to go back to his roots by recreating the myth of Spanish identity. Fuentes’ position rounds the edges of what Kinder expounds: in a first stage of his exile.) (Fuentes 1995: 162) Buñuel did remake Don Quintín el amargao in Mexico. to eventually reach the position of “transterrado” –an exile that is still an outsider but manages to express specific characteristics of his new country. this is the result of a “cultural continuity”. a play of which Buñuel was particularly fond and of which he owned a copy that he and other Spanish exiles watched frequently “just for fun”.Jacinto Benavente’s La Malquerida and Carlos Arniches’ El último mono.insistency on the portrayal of the clash of social classes and gender. Don Quintín el amargao is based in the homonymous zarzuela by Arniches and Estremera. but also Doña Perfecta –also by Galdós. Buñuel made efforts to infuse the ‘counterpoints’ of Spanishness in the melodramas he was making. The process begins with the exile passing through a period of resistance slowly moving into a subsequent one of assimilation. a film he had produced in 1935 in Spain when working for Filmófono. 1993: 301) It is evident that this history is also represented by the figures of authority and submission that are constant in Buñuel’s films either explicitly or implicitly.
and therefore the Spanish humour that they very much enjoyed had to be modified in the Mexican version. had to adapt not only to a new culture. as an exile. a glimpse of paranoia that hints to what the character of Arturo Córdova in Él would bring a few years later and tells us that “El amargao” might as well still be around for a while. Don Quintín’s casino/cabaret. notwithstanding it leaves open the question on whether familial happiness can be restored once he ties have been so violently torn. and though Don Quintín continued to be essentially the same character. another common place feature of classic Mexican cinema and epitome of sin and decadence) pointing his gun at everyone and creating mayhem with exaggerated macho displays. though necessary because the film had to be adapted for an audience that was different both territorially and temporally. The happy ending of the Mexican version is thus more commercially acceptable. but they also cast light on the influence that the cultural specificity of the country of exile delimits and influences this range of choices since the director. The newer film’s ending makes sure that there are no ambiguities in whether Don Quintín’s bitterness has been thoroughly shaken off. whereas in the Spanish version.e. however at the end of the Mexican film. instead of the “echao pálante” madrilène. The differences between Don Quintín el amargao and La hija del engaño acutely exemplify Fuentes description of the way the choices of the director are influenced by his desire to project aspects of his shaded national identity.Spanish counterpart. he became a Mexican macho The character of Don Quintín does change. tellingly denote how a strong desire of rewrite their Spanish identity persuaded Buñuel and his collaborators (Urdimalas and Alcoriza) to adapt the culturally specific genre of zarzuela with its plethora of jokes based on typical linguistic traits and typical madrilène characters to a no less culturally specific audiences of 1950s Mexico. “Hell”. but to specific ways of representation of that culture. we can perceive a nervous look. Curiously. Buñuel’s affection for the popular Spanish genre is then influenced by his desire to comment on Mexican males proclivity 32 . some of the best moments of La hija del engaño are not in the 1935 version. and these account for features that are included specifically to address Mexican audiences: the inclusion of a musical number by Jovita (Lily Aclémar) singing the bolero “Amorcito corazón” and the hilarious and over-the-top sequence of the rogue “El Jonrón” to “El Infierno” (i.
whilst at the same time it functions as an opportunity to introduce an anticlerical joke by making the priest enter “El infierno” with his cassock buttoned up to the end. managing in this way. his work cannot be stripped of its cultural specificity. As seen in the previous example. Creativity is a force that finds its way even in the most constricted environments. 33 . but as the opening of new doors and levels of signification from which to emit a message.to facile violence. as we will see in the next chapter. were not to be accounted as negative limitations. the director managed to articulate the integrity of his genius into the apparently flat language of commercial filmmaking. and Buñuel’s creativity was evidently not inhibited by these economic restrictions. to attain and reflect the complexities contained in his adoptive country’s culture. This is but an example of the ways in which the films of Luis Buñuel were permeated and enriched from many different stocks. on the contrary. Buñuel’s work in Mexico emerges therefore as paradigmatic: in the same way as the genius of the artist is composed by the influences and choices of life. much of the aesthetic and dramatic choices made by the director to adapt an old idea were conditioned by the exigencies of the industry. however. These exigencies.
The films chosen are also representative of the cinematic styles exploited by Buñuel during his first years in Mexico. The films to be analysed are Susana (1951). and that marked the rise of actor Pedro Infante as a national hero (even today he is remembered as “El ídolo del pueblo”). a film that exalts the educational policies of the governments and portrays progress as the vehicle to fight the oppression in which the Indian population lived. who made popular the character of “El Peladito” a poor but honest man. whose humorous appeal was based on a witty use of language and the ridiculing of the upper classes. La ilusión viaja en tranvía is a comedy of customs with shades of melodrama. 1943). (Mexican comedians ever since have been more or less a reinterpretation of this character) and on the other hand. set in Mexico City and presenting the lives of the urban poor. the set of urban “weepies” Nosotros los pobres (Ismael Rodríguez. and El río y la muerte (1954). La ilusión viaja en tranvía and El río y 34 . La ilusión viaja en tranvía (1953). La ilusión viaja en tranvía and El río y la muerte In the following chapter we will analyse three films of Luis Buñuel through which we will try to explore the way they account for both “Mexican” and “Buñuelean” characteristics as has been suggested from the two previous chapters.Chapter three Mexico in the Films of Luis Buñuel 3. They are representative of three types of melodrama that were typical in the period of the classic Mexican cinema: Susana is a family melodrama that presents the archetypical devoradora character. El río y la muerte is what could be called a ‘serious’ melodrama that deals with the theme of the confrontation of progress and backwardness as represented by rural/urban environments that was typical of the modernising official discourse of the period and that finds its best representative in Emilio Fernández’s Río Escondido (1948).1 Analysis of Susana. the Mexican femme fatale whose untameable sexuality confronts the familial order and whose best exponent was actress María Félix in films like Doña Bárbara (Fernando de Fuentes. This is a film closely related to two kinds of films that enjoyed great popularity during the Golden Age: on the one hand the urban comedies of Mario Moreno Cantinflas. Susana. 1947) and its sequels that presented the predicaments of the working classes of Mexico City.
national representation and cultural interpretation that we have argued in the previous chapters. such as Nazarín and El ángel exterminador. to this follows a further 35 . As such. Susana will give us the opportunity to explore the representation of the family as nucleus of the patriarchal system. in order to see the extent until which they adapted and used the established economy of signs. According to this paradigm. we have decided to search for these archetypical elements in the films of Luis Buñuel. the state and modernising discourses. they adapt quite accurately to the conventions of the Mexican cinema narrative paradigm and belong to the group of films that Buñuel himself called “películas alimenticias”.la muerte. As a starting point of our analysis. a number of types and archetypes emerged as standard forms of representation of specific traits of human interaction. A note on the critical approach As it was stated in the first chapter. Above all. these archetypes functioned as ideology carriers and in this way. are all part of Buñuel’s early work in Mexico. La ilusión viaja en tranvía will give material to explore issues of capitalism and representation of social class and social mobility. classic Mexican cinema favoured the use of a specific narrative paradigm in which the films of several cinematic styles were inscribed. whereas El río y la muerte will provide the opportunity to explore representations of the male figure. social stasis and the prevalence of a paternalist state through the reinforcement of the values of the patriarchal family and the subsequent gendering of the roles of its members. all three films will also serve to explore the representation of feminine roles. To El río y la muerte would follow only projects of a more personal nature and also some of his best films. these three characteristics are important for the purposes of this work since they allow for the interpretation of issues of ideology. This choice of films allows then for an approximation to the way Buñuel portrayed the themes that are archetypes recurrently used in Mexican films. Mexican cinema managed to convey a message that promoted nationalism. these films were addressed to large audiences.
36 . The order is restored and things go back to the initial normality. and finally Don Guadalupe. she bends to kiss it as a black spider passes by her face.2 Patriarchy and the Mexican Family: Susana [Synopsis] During a stormy night. is dragged by four wardens into the punishment cell of the state’s reformatory. This analysis tries to give the films the opportunity to speak and show until what extent they adapted to the lineaments of classic Mexican cinema and also the way the author imprinted his personal point of view in them. Susana. Susana sets out to seduce them: starting from Jesús the foreman of the ranch. she is offered protection and work by the mother Doña Carmen. 3. the father. feminist. historical. It is rather intended as a cultural study of interpretation that seeks to draw a line of continuity between the films and the context they were made in order to make up from them what are the pieces of reality they intend to represent. The family order is disrupted and all characters stand against each other as in chain reaction. giving as a result a work that was enriched from many sources.interpretation of the texts based on a variety of reading strategies (cultural. Susana jumps in terror and clings onto the cell bars that give way for her to escape. Inside. The following analysis does not intend to be an exhaustively detailed account of the films’ mise-en-scène and nor is it based strictly on one theoretical platform to which the films must be forced to enter. psychoanalytic) to examine how the film calls the viewer into a particular ideological moment and site. Lying about her former life. he kicks his wife out so Susana can replace her and live as his mistress. Desired by all the men of the household. Susana runs in the rain until she finds a ranch where she is given refuge by the rich landowners. she kneels begging for help whilst the cell bars cast the shadow of a cross on the floor. culminating with Doña Carmen whipping Susana in rage. In the midst of havoc the police arrives rattled by Jesús and takes Susana away. As Guadalupe breaks in. Alberto the son. screaming and kicking.
the son. as well as by the dramatic excesses of the music and the effects of nature. the mother. Whereas. threatens everything Doña Carmen. in which all the individual stands for the collective. the mise-en-scène. The family is then. until he sees his desires frustrated and explodes in rage. well functioning into a hierarchical arrangement. The family. it can be attested by the acting. asexual. As such. the microcosms of society in which all social relationships are essayed. embodies all the traditional macho attitudes. with her sexual assertiveness. respectful towards Susana and his mother. protected and secured by its patriarchal functioning stands for society. manipulative. is the one who embodies the “good” macho attitudes: he is well educated. in both the spheres of the private and the public. the asexual mother. it is the medium in which all the societal practices are learned by the individuals in order to function in society and therefore affects all spheres of human interaction. caring and protective. disrespectful and authoritarian. the moral stronghold of the family and the preserver of its unity and prevalence. Jesús. on the other hand. Susana and Doña Carmen are opposing feminine characters. different shades of the same figure: Alberto. the ranch is a microcosm of the social structure. he is virile. virtuous and self-sacrificing. Susana conforms efficiently to the metonymic correspondence that is typical of melodramas. governed by men 37 . The two other males are but two other aspects of the masculine archetype. Susana. Doña Carmen (Matilde Palou) is the epitome of the Mexican mother.Susana adjusts properly to the conventions of Mexican cinema melodrama. order and patriarchal authority The patriarchal institution Family is the institution that mediates the individual’s relationship with the state. wherein all the characters are subordinate to the figure of the father (Fernando Soler) who is both paternal (providing) and authoritarian. the foreman of the ranch. is set to guard: morality. sexually assertive and self confident. but most of all by its representation of archetypes: the family has a clear patriarchal structure.
with whom he has established a distant. subservient all to the centralist holding power of the patriarch. Susana violates the hierarchical and social limits. Susana’s plan of seduction threatens not only the institution of marriage but also every conceived order within the social structure that the family stands for. held to patriarchal hierarchy. The patron delegates the share of work that has to do with the sphere of the external (the management of the workforce that anonymously takes care of the functioning of the ranch) to Jesús. who by then is already confronting her feminine counterpart. whereas women are confined to the interior of the house. a subaltern version of himself. Coexisting within the capitalist system. whereas he delegates all the work related to the sphere of the private (thus the keeping of the household) to the woman (wife/mother). By seducing Jesús and Alberto in order to reach Don Guadalupe. in a correspondent system of interests in which power is selfpreserving and all norms are observed. In the familial structure the societal relations and gender roles are delineated.and guarded by women. asexual and almost contractual relationship that excludes all forms of affection. and all the relationships knitted into it are subservient. The constricted space of the ranch stands for the constricted bourgeois society. all the ambits of control that attain the sphere of what is public and external to the house are reserved to the males of the family: the outside world. all men become essentially the same and confront each other in their quest for their prey (captor) Susana. 38 . performing the correspondent activities of following orders. guarding and keeping (both the house and the moral and social values). In this way. the patriarch is free to go beyond the limits of the household and perform activities that are “proper” to his gender and status and that endorse his authority and masculinity (like hunting) and that apparently allow him to also look for sexual pleasure in a creature that is for him an object representing all that is denied within the sacred (contractual) institution of marriage. upsetting the order of subordination that exists between both father and son and patron and employee. Driven by desire. power and freedom. The irruption of Susana into the family sets out a chain reaction that upsets this intricate system of subservient relationships. with its connotations of the active (not passive).
she is regarded as the devil. became an informer. and the model son lost all respect and humiliated his own mother. impossible. acknowledges her attributes and wields them at will. and social change are. 39 . By opposing the sacred figure of the mother/wife. Susana is taken away allowing things to go back to normality. ultimately. and therefore on the national structure. Susana threatens everything Doña Carmen stands for: the bourgeois home and values. rather than logical resolutions can be inserted. Buñuel’s happy ending can be nothing but the ultimate exposure of the fragility of the patriarchal family. and just as the mare may fall ill again or the weather may change. the challenge on the position of patriarchal family. By adapting so tightly to the conventions of the melodrama –in which unexpected. but because her condition of being a woman does not allow her to hold these powers. overcome with jealousy. only everything seems awkwardly fragile. her passive subordination to male power. persists. As noted by Francisco Aranda. for the forces of the bourgeois order are too strong. is related to the open space. unlike Doña Carmen. She. Social mobility. like a wild animal (or like men). Buñuel seems to suggest. The film’s finale also underlines the apparent inflexibility of a system that leaves no space for change. (1975) Susana’s removal from the family and the restoration of the order in the household confirms that that there is no possibility for the human being when he or she has to struggle to live a different life from the one in which he or she was born. asexual morality and. family relations readjust and economic as well as social assurance is restored –as exemplified by the recovering of the mare and the clearing of the weather. the virile macho. the protective father and husband kicked his wife out threatening to leave her out on the streets. but without letting the spectator forget that during the climatic scene the true nature of all these “good” people was unmasked: the selfsacrificing mother whipped Susana with sadistic pleasure.Susana. however. Anarchic explosions like Susana’s irruption cannot be contained within the conventions of melodrama without being punished. is associated with freedom and power. Once unmasked by the irruption of a creature that is all untamed desire and disrespect for social norms. She arrives from the wilderness and.
they are forced to let passengers hop on in what becomes a remarkable parade of different characters and comic situations that underline the marginal life of the city’s underclass. they head to the nearest ‘cantina’ to sink their sorrow in alcohol only to go back to the garage during the night to take the tram out ‘just for a last stroll’. Throughout the night and the following day they wander the streets of Mexico City and. for it is a highly entertaining melodramatic comedy that illustrates the plight of the lower classes of Mexico City whilst raising the question on crucial issues of the Mexican socio-political context of the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s. with the first signs of decay of the Golden Age once the attentions of the 40 . buddies Tarrajas (Fernando Soto ‘Mantequilla’) and Caireles (Carlos Navarro) are fired from the garages of the tram company and learn that their beloved tram will be put out circulation and dismantled.and even though the weakness of this order and all its contradictions are exposed by the individual’s irrupting force. traditional sayings and expressions. a subgenre that became popular in Mexico during the years immediately following the war. La ilusión viaja en tranvía enters the category of the urban melodrama. It does as well draw a captivating picture of urban folklore that grabs hold on Mexico City’s wealth on linguistic variations. 3. La ilusión viaja en tranvía combines high and low-brow features that make it quite unique.3 Modernity. class and the illusion of change: La ilusión viaja en tranvía [Synopsis] After having repaired old tram number 133. combining the sharp Spanish humour of Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza with surrealist tricks and a very well written script by Mauricio de la Serna in collaboration with Mexican novelist José Revueltas. Disappointed. unable to either hide or put the tram back.
for the first time with no pejorative connotations. a characteristic best exemplified by the films of Mario Moreno “Cantinflas”.Hollywood industry were deviated from the production of war propaganda and set out to recover their Latin American markets once more. in which were included different variations of income. The audience for the national production of films was then increasingly composed by urban popular classes. To this end. lead to a stream of low-budget. coupled with a decline in investment rates. formulabased films designed to appeal to a specific audience-namely the urban popular classes – rather than the more all-embracing tendencies of films produced in the Golden Age. La ilusión viaja en tranvía can be grouped along with El gran calavera (1949) for in both of them the poor are presented within the paradigm made popular by Nosotros los pobres in which the poor constitute the chunk of the population that holds the true spirit of the country: proud. 2005: 94 Along to this phenomenon. resulting in less investment per film. the years following the end of the war were characterised for an extensive stratification of social classes and a growth of the sector of the population considered lower-middle class. the financial and technological support that the US had extended to the Mexican industry dried up. 1948) La ilusión viaja en tranvía clearly belongs to this kind of films that intended to appeal a targeted urban audience that expected to feel identified with what they saw on the screen. 2005: 93) creating a socially diverse yet homogeneous audience profile. Noble. It is not surprising then that much of the humour of all these films lies on the dialogues that reproduce the popular speech. and whose traditions and form of speech was being represented “faithfully”. This. happy and good-hearted luchones (literally ‘struggler’) who get by against adversity and poverty with dignity and self-sacrifice. Whilst the Golden Age years had brought to the film theatres “all the people –or at least more than before and since” (Noble. the social structure of the country was beginning to show important changes in terms of cultural consume. and this was reflected in the kind of genres that sprung building on the success of the urban trilogy Nosotros los pobres (Ismael Rodríguez. 41 .
and wash it all down with a pair of ‘heladas’ staying true to their roles as goodies. as a typical depiction of class in classic Mexican cinema: “First. 1995: 25). The ideological implications of this recurrent motif legitimised the impossibility of social mobility by giving the masses a plain message: “you are the bearers of legitimate mexicanidad. 1995: 25) Whilst films like Nosotros los pobres take this paradigm to unimaginable levels. In order to maintain it. The film does not suggest that social mobility is by any means possible. because poverty. it is precisely at this point that La ilusión viaja en tranvía breaks the expectations of the genre. patiently guarding their Mexican-ness by staying poor and low in the class scale. instead. on the contrary.” (Ramírez Berg. snatch sacks of corn from a black market dealer. thus they make fun of it. of breaking the rules of the given status quo. they resist to the class oppression they are subject to with the very arms of this Mexican-ness. along with all its consequences is portrayed as the result of specific political and economic policies that affect directly on the lives of the characters. On the other hand. the journey of illusion serving only as an excuse to illustrate the rigidity of social structure and to expose the effects of modernisation in that multilayered social structure. the characters of the higher class are not portrayed as being out of this Mexican-ness. The way social class is portrayed responds to the two corollaries suggested by Ramírez Berg. cold-hearted hedonists. which acknowledge their condition and resist to it. The characters here portrayed do not endure poverty with resignation. runs an implacable discourse that even when implying impossibility for social change advocates for social resistance. but without being idiots. corrupted and incapable of enjoying life in its simplicity3. however.whereas the rich stand for all the opposite: they are embittered. argue with the corn seller. they 3 in El gran calavera the rich get to actually learn from the poor how to enjoy life 42 . Underneath its conventional narrative and witty humour. if only for a day. but still remaining faithful to its conventions. the lower the station the more genuine the Mexican-ness” (Ramírez Berg. authentic mexicanidad resides in the lower classes and second. La ilusión viaja en tranvía is a fairytale in which the characters are given the opportunity. your responsibility is to stay in your humble place and accept the status quo. the low class is not.
the strains and frictions of social inequalities are exposed. a constant interruption of the urban landscape with rural scenarios and activities. an assemble of vignettes put together in the form of a road trip. as in successive parading. and the contradictions of modernity are exposed. urban and modern capital. On the tram hop the most varied characters that make up what earlier the unseen narrator had defined as “el sector de las gentes que viajan en tranvía” and this term is so wide it cannot be but an excuse to expose the frictions generated by the forced coexistence of different groups (more specifically different social classes) that may include characters as varied as the workers of the slaughterhouse. The film’s representation of urban life is paradoxically realistic and onirical. an anti-communist American tourist. that Mexican-ness is inevitably conformed by the permanent almost inherent clash of classes. All in all. a continuous exposure of the strains 43 . The film’s structure. its interior functions as a container where all the diverse components of “modern” Mexico interact. Social inequalities seem not to exist when the extremes do not encounter each other. a duke. therefore is a space of encounter and clashing. The characters in the film function as guides and mediators of the city’s disparate landscapes in which. but the inside of the tram. but most of all. however. Urban Interrupted If during the opening sequence of La ilusión viaja en tranvía we see long shots of a dense-populated. of recognition of the true nature of the country. for the journey is filled with accurate observations of daily life. The message appearing to be then. two proletariat-hating aristocrats. the journey gives an insight of what is modernity in 1950s Mexico: a mixture of modern and pre-modern ways of living.are part of the social tissue and showing different aspects of Mexican-ness themselves. in combination with several inexplicable insertions that are provided directly from Buñuel’s surrealistic trick box. and the way the inhabitants of the city live and socialise in a world that combines different levels of modernity. and an bureaucrat obsessed with order and rules. a group of school children. as the journey on the tram begins and the plot moves on. allows for the analysis of different aspects of urban life.
Nothing about the smugglers is explained but in short the implications of the scene are huge: both inflation and free market policies affect directly on the most hidden corner of the city. yet distressing scenes: the dispute between the tortilladough shop owner with Lupita and the other customers. different ethnicities and different genders having to share the same city –or the same tram. A good example of this is the sequence when the workers of the slaughterhouse ride the tram. Everything seems to be out of a surreal story. where else would the butchers take their meat if not with them? The film’s concern with Mexico’s social and economic context cannot be overstated. as if coming from the slaughterhouse himself. yet Buñuel’s comment seems to be that it is not impossible for the surreal and the real to coincide in the context of Mexico city. In 1953. a pair of pious ladies carrying a human-size statue of Christ also gets on. The continuous insertion of episodes that allude to the adverse economic situation of the country is more than a simple comment on it. in fact. it is clear. It is not a coincidence. In two of the film’s most discreet. much stronger but passing almost unnoticed. is when people steal desperately sacks of corn from a smuggling truck in the back street where the protagonists are trying to hide the tram. for example. carrying with them pieces of raw meat that are hanged from the holding tubes (including a hog’s head). the regime of President Miguel Alemán (1946-1952) had led the 44 .provoked by the encounters of different classes. it is not casual that there are two specific allusions to the rise of the price of corn. The professor’s concerns in the film had indeed foundation on the country’s political context. that the purpose of the film is to expose the situation and transmit a message of contestation. rides also the duke of Otanto (apparently known by Tarrajas) drunk and dressed with cape and top hat. for. who rise in protests because he does not respect the top price of the staple grain. and the other. that the scene that precedes the stealing of the tram is an actual lecture the Professor of the barrio gives to Don Braulio the watchman about inflation and its direct consequences on the popular classes. In the same way. when the film was made. As if this was not enough. the country was passing through the first of a series of devaluations of the peso that followed the so-called economic miracle of the war years. along.
The illusion of social change La ilusión viaja en tranvía tells a circular story. including the watchman and the very last of the workers cover each other’s pillages and incompetence] and with it. The heroes may have broken the rules of the company but at the end they submit to them and contribute to their perpetuation by legitimising its superiority. it is an illusion. If we agree with the metonymy of the tram company being the representation of the nation. omniscient power of a bureaucratic system. and this strong force is nothing less but a paternalist and extremely bureaucratic system (Buñuel and his screenplay writers could not find a better representation of the official party leaders than the demagogic bureaucrats at the tram company) that finds its base on the ideology of the bourgeoisie. Going even further the end suggests that the whole of society and the members of each class contribute to their social entrapment. 45 . Buñuel’s final comment twists once more the expectations of the representations of these characters. The illusion of social change and liberation are stopped by economic rules. It begins and ends as a fairytale and just like a fairytale and as stated by its title. when the characters manage to put the tram back. the official order is restored without “the system” even realising it ever changed. The film conveys an important message: social mobility is impossible. from the manager to the employees. Towards the end. then Papá Pinillos’ final speech denounces society’s inherent corruption “…lo que pasa es que en estos tiempos desde el gerente hasta los empleados pasando por el velador y hasta el ultimo de los obreros se tapan sus pillerías y su incompetencia” [what happens is that in these days everybody. by implying that there is an understanding on every level of this contradictory society that reaffirms the prevalence of the authoritarian system. thus contributing to the polarisation of economy and the indiscriminate rise of prices.country towards a steady industrialisation and a partial transformation of infrastructure but without the social modernisation that are implicit in these changes. rigid social structure and the strong. The film is very clear in giving a closing message of impossibility to change. Even though the poor resist and try to move up there is and will always be a strong force to stop them.
especially one whose thesis was as simplistic as this one. in which the rural and traditional stand for backwardness. Gerardo. El río y la muerte deals with a recurrent dual motif of Mexican cinema: the dichotomy of backwardness versus progress. the son of Gerardo’s father’s murderer. the narrative. the long time familial rivalries. and that lay on the foundations of much of Mexican cinema’s archetypes and stereotypes. 2005: 107). namely the myth of the macho figure and its code of honour. The film’s structure is very conventional and the characters are little more than a Manichean embodiment of Álvarez’s moralist preaching. a doctor living in the capital. refuses to do so because he strongly believes people should stop those brutal barbarian traditions to embrace progress and knowledge in order to live peacefully and happy. Based in the novel Muro blanco sobre roca negra by Miguel Álvarez Acosta. Because of its characteristics as a “thesis” film. Gerardo. In several occasions Buñuel expressed his reluctance to make a “thesis” film. The film deals with issues that are enrooted in Mexican imaginary. the story and the way the characters are structured are more bold and contained forms of melodrama.4 Machismo and the State: El río y la muerte [Synopsis] El río y la muerte tells the story of Santa Bibiana. and the moralising voice of the author can be heard so loud in the main character that indeed left Buñuel with little space to deviate the message towards a more diffused or ambiguous conclusion. and urbanity and modernity stand for progress. is the last male son of the Anguiano. El río y la muerte is a much more hermetic film compared to La ilusión viaja en tranvía and Susana.” (Noble. It is not hard to see that the novel contains a discourse that is explicitly modernising and propagandistic. and is expected by his mother and the whole town to go back to Santa Bibiana and kill the last male of the Menchaca. a rural “Tierra Caliente” Mexican town in which social rules are defined by old vendettas. having grown in the capital. 46 .3. typical of the 1940s and 50s: “the idea that ‘underdeveloped’ nations would achieve ‘take-off’ if they emulated the path of historical “progress” of the ‘developed’ metropolis.
is fundamental for the continuation of the vendetta that his brother and Felipe had implicitly agreed to end. unravels the desperation of Polo’s brother Crescencio (Humberto Almazán). whilst being peripheral. a bloodthirsty. It is in the story of these two characters that Buñuel explores the implications of machismo as a subjugating social practice. revealing with his behaviour that honour and family pride are but social constructs to cover human’s insecurities and animal drives. it is not surprising then. Felipe Anguiano (Miguel Torruco) and Polo Menchaca (Víctor Alcocer) are exiled from the town on the other side of the river according to the law of the town. The Macho reloaded Machismo in Mexico is the product of a collective psychological trauma historically dragged since the conquest. Their ambiguous behaviour. is regarded as the mother of the first 47 . respectively. He instigates the continuation of the revenges with a desperation that seems to come from angst and rage. La Malinche. The core of the film is constituted by a long flashback in which Gerardo (Joaquín Cordero) tells the story of Santa Bibiana to Elsa (Silvia Derbéz). Through their story the film leaves space for the reflection on the issue of masculinity and the validity of the modernising discourse. self-righteous preaching is left in the periphery while his voice fades giving way to the image of the river flow. always on the limit of being brothers or enemies. permanently angry young man that symbolises society’s sadism embodied in the obsessive desire of self-perpetuation.In this context. Gerardo’s blatant. Their allegiance to their common godfather Tata Nemesio (José Elías Moreno) brings them together in a sort of unspoken pact of camaraderie. interpreter and concubine of Cortés. As Octavio Paz and others have argued. the Mexican male is the son of the violation of the Indian woman by the Spanish conqueror. Curiously. one of each other’s family members. the ancestors of Gerardo and Rómulo. Crescencio’s character. his nurse friend. they are the only characters in the film who experience a real transformation as a result of living away from societal norms and gender expectations. moreover exposing the role of women as both objects and preservers of it. for having killed. that the director gave much more prominence and human depth to the non-protagonist characters of Felipe Anguiano and Polo Menchaca.
in general. responding to the exigencies of the better established (or at least established for a longer time) modernising policies. all the bravery. El río y la muerte exposes and condemns the typical displays of machismo that populated the charro films. as in imitation of his violating father. this behaviour represents the nation’s former self. he assumes the passive and open(ed) feminine role. Berg (1995) argues. quoted in Ramírez Berg.mestizo child. and therefore he must act manly and assume the active role. the stage that must be overcome in order to reach progress. as we have delineated in the first chapter. it is a matter of compulsively resorting to external manifestations to affirm a lacking internal vigour” (Ramírez. Being a film made in the middle of the 1950s. each time the male assumes any feminine action. Such an internal conflict determines the male’s conduct and his obsession with reaffirming his manhood constantly. In the appropriation of history. He demonstrates his constantly achieved manliness with the symbols of the masculine. “the hat… the pistol. he is passively allowing for the conquest (violation) to take place all over again. that the individual male and the state empower and reinforce each other’s power attributes.” (Ibid: 107) As if it was intended to be a public reprimand. and thus when the Mexican male identifies with his mother. the Indian element of his past. in order to be first world. 1995: 105) Machismo is also the societal accommodation through which the patriarchal State imposes itself. Gerardo represents the ideology of the already firmly established industrialising governments of modern Mexico who no longer needed to praise and 48 . machismo is the ideological fuel driving Mexican society. the horse or the automobile are his pride and joy. Metonymically. that he brandishes at the smallest of provocations. modernity and. In the film’s explicit meaning. Thus. comedias rancheras and provincial melodramas typical of the Golden Age cinema. the story adopts a much more modern point of view. especially in front of other men (other potential violators). the screaming and the quick pulling of guns at the smallest provocation that were exalted and praised in earlier films are here delineated in extremis and exposed to the level of the ridiculous for the didactic purposes of the novel. with whom he unconsciously competes. “more than a cultural tradition.
it also evidences the fragilities of this very change. 1995: 99) and stood for the country’s unity and carried out the ideals of patriotism. but also his grandfather Tata Nemesio). namely barbarian customs as the vendettas or other traditions that are of a clear Indigenous influence as the masked 4 The author agreed to sell the rights of the novel only under the condition hat the message was not changed. progress and change are promoted by white Europeanised mestizos (not only Gerardo. exposing its factual inaccessibility. the same discourse wielded by the governments in turn. in the form of knowledge and status is passed from generation to generation just as vendetta and honour are transmitted into descendents in Santa Bibiana. and power. a Mexico of progress and friendly but superficial pacts with its past. 49 . a man on the side of the people who cares about and fights for justice. Gerardo has only traded his gun and hat for a demagogic discourse of progress. representatives of the bourgeoisie. Though the optimistic finale proves right the thesis of the novel that the nation can grow up from its barbaric past and embrace the modern (capitalistic) world and its social practices. liberty and civil and agrarian rights” (Ramírez Berg.reaffirm the values of the revolution. In the film. Gerardo is a modern charro (with suit and tie) that has seen the light of progress and “possesses the ideological fervour” (Ibid) to convert his fellow compatriots. he did not spare in exposing its superficiality and portraying the promised Mexico unsympathetically. to help them grow up into the new Mexico. but wished to educate the masses into capitalism and carry out liberalist economic policies. but only on the superficial level. women are equally subordinated to men. or better to say. gets to be exposed. offers not much more of what it tries to eradicate: the promised Mexico is only another face of the old machista and selfperpetuating one. who. If Buñuel was hand tied to twist or at least dilute the novel’s message4. The Mexico suggested and ardently promoted by Gerardo. In it. because of their racial and social status are entitled to clear the country from all its intrinsic diversity. Machismo then. The ideological implications of this new Mexico go even further: the aseptic environment of the hospital stands as symbol of the homogeneity that the modernising system pursues for the country. If in the Golden Age provincial melodrama the charro embodied “the unsullied revolutionary ideal.
she is eventually killed by her pimp. in order to become better Mexicans should allow themselves to be civilised and embrace change. As it has been discussed in the first chapter. always following the commands of the patriarchal authority. Mercedes Cinema representations of women serve as a mechanism to bridge public history and domestic narrative. her incorrect behaviour had always to be punished by the prevailing moral.5 Female Desire: Susana. and female characters functioned as important metaphors of continuation and preservation of this ideology. Moral rectitude and its prevalence then were consistently identified with the figure of the state. the change offered by Gerardo puts the responsibility of the progress of the country on the people.religious processions. Moral rectitude The boom of the cabaretera (B-girl) films during the Golden Age were revolved around the story of a good girl who was forced by circumstances to become a prostitute. or the rituals of the death that are all acutely portrayed in the film with almost ethnographic eye. this was done through the use of specific narrative devices. 1933) and Emilio Fernández’s Salón México (1949). what legitimised its inherent authority to punish the dissentions. the protagonist (Marga López) is forced into prostitution in order to pay for her sister’s upper class boarding school. though she remained good at heart. After all. whilst her sister ends up marrying a high range military officer (who 50 . The saga of these films began as early as 1932 with Santa (Antonio Moreno) and it remained a recurrent cliché of Mexican cinema. As it has been discussed. in which Mercedes. who. Lupita. Other films that take on the same argument are La mujer del Puerto (Arcady Boytler. 3. these types are derivative from the roles that are left for women within the construct of the patriarchal family. As it has been discussed. We will se in this section how Buñuel’s films analysed here adopt these devices and undermine them from within. There are three essential archetypes that enclosed women in this paradigm of representation. the cinematic allegories of gender roles in Mexican cinema had the purpose of conveying ideology. and. (thus the sister’s morally and socially accepted upbringing).
but her confronting of the traditional woman role represented by Carmen. what eventually unmasks the immorality of the system. The death of the prostitute “reaffirms the moral authority of the state” (Saragoza et al 1994: 28) whilst the moral dissidence is again punished. Susana is a woman who not only does not want to accommodate to the established norms of society (she is inherently rebel). In the case of the representation of Susana’s character. Buñuel has refused to make her appear as a victim of unjust circumstances. purity and humility as opposed to the representation of sexy. means her rejection of this very order. Susana seems to retake the basic arguments of these films. brazen women whose immorality threatened the moral of the Mexican family and who were 51 . the femme fatale figure that. Mexican films often identified the poor/good girl with the values of chastity. Susana’s sexual assertiveness is not the sole threaten to this power. remains as an aggressive outcast that refuses to embrace the attributes of “normal” femininity.has just come back from Second World War) without ever knowing the truth. in convergence with the figure of the devoradora. Susana’s desire is. Unlike her cabaretera counterparts. as embodied in the character of Don Guadalupe. Susana. i. therefore. Virgin and whore In order to underscore the valorisation of the poor as holders of the legitimate values of Mexican-ness. she is portrayed as a character that does not give way to victimisation. What Susana desires is to hold the power that the established order denies for women. however. as has been argued above. sets off from two fundamental differences: she does not have a troubled past that justifies her immoral behaviour (she seems to be inherently “evil”) and her punishment for having confronted the moral authority only reveals the arbitrariness of the patriarchal morality. The portrayal of Susana. moreover. but the fact that she manipulates her position as men’s object of desire in order to achieve what she desires. thus the power wielded by men.e. also as a result of a troubled past. as has been noted by Francisco Aranda (1975: 152) mischievously awakens a sense of justice in the spectator by evidencing the hypocrisy lying underneath the familial rectitude. romantic love and motherhood.
Lupita is simultaneously the chaste. confusing the expectations of Juan Caireles: her dialogue is the expected for the good girl “es solo que siendo tu hombre. she plays Eve in the neighbourhood’s pastorela. she allows him to touch her face and hair and to have a glimpse of her tights. whereas Lupita-Eve answers “Yo no” in a playful tone that represents the dichotomy of the clever girl playing to be a fool. Caireles enters and sees her sleeping and comes close to her. her character undermines the solemnity of these valorisations by evidencing the fact that they are social constructs that she can use when it is convenient in order to get what she wants. represent distinctively these contrasting characteristics. Lupita is identified with the role of the deceitful (whore). Lupita plays both roles at will: she is the virgin when she is being courted by Pablo the driver: she does not let him touch her face (“¡tentón!”) and refuses to ride his car (implying good girls do not ride guy’s cars).eventually punished by the dramatic thread (by not being worth of becoming mothers and guard the values of Mexican-ness). y yo mujer… bueno…” [It is just that being you a 52 . Both the car and the refusal to let him touch her face are representations of the established moral that she does not really believe in. In a few seconds. in a scene that is representative of her ambiguous role: when God asks to both she and Adam if they remember he had forbidden to eat the apple Adam answers “yes”. Lupita plays with the virgin/whore dichotomy. Unlike films like Nosotros los pobres. we see an amazing mechanism of seduction: Lupita passes from one side to the other of the two extremes. assertive woman who uses her sexual appeals to obtain what she wants or what she needs from men. in which the two female characters that are “available” for the protagonist Pepe el Toro. Buñuel has the female character of La ilusión viaja en tranvía move freely between the two extremes. but dresses up and plays the sluttish one when she needs him to help her look for her brother (on his car). but that she wields and bends at will. From the beginning. This is made evident in the when she is pretending to be asleep inside the tram. She is neither a virgin nor a whore. pure poor girl who does not give in to the several moves of driver Pablo (a character who has moved up on the social scale) and the sexy. Lupita in La ilusión viaja en tranvía bears ambiguously both sides of this dichotomy.
and assertiveness. she has turned her back on the ideals held by her dead father. cannot afford to be an idealist as her father was and now her son is. In the retrospective part of the film. and a remark on the clichés about sexuality. as a lonely woman. but her attitude is marked by force. she adjusts to the expectations of her role as woman. Films like the successful Cuando los hijos se van (Juan Bustillo Oro. The mother The archetype of the good mother is another one of the ubiquitous narrative devices used by Mexican cinema regarding the representation of women. who made a career representing Mexico’s good mother. and in fact almost all films of actress Sara García. whilst ensuring its continuation through the transmission of the values to the next generations. The good mother safeguards the prevalence of the patriarchal authority. and therefore in many cases she had to she must be either blind. Mercedes (Columba Domínguez) is a character that experiences a somehow uneasy transformation within the plot. though we do not see this we can only suppose it was not an easy task in a world where the rules of men prevail. In order to fulfil these demands. when we see Mercedes as a young woman and girlfriend of Felipe Anguiano. In the transit from the long flashback to the present time of the film Mercedes had to raise her son alone. or stupid. whereas when she becomes a mother that she turns into a manipulative. This stereotype is subverted through the role of Mercedes in El río y la muerte. realising that she. She does not want to protect her son’s life. even when it is exercised unjustly. Mercedes clings to the old traditions of the town as she would stand against them in her youth. Lupita allows Caireles to (finally) touch her face. and. set on to guard the values of family. Her apparently incoherent change of mind hints to the fact that the backing of the tradition (thus the backing of machismo) puts her on a 53 . 1941). In what eventually becomes a Buñuelean joke. She is a caring daughter and girlfriend and her role is adjacent to the doings of men. and does not support his ideals (and therefore the ideals of the new nation).man. embittered and angry woman. but his hands are dirty with grease and so he leaves a mark on her face. Mercedes had to come to terms with solitude. and I a woman… well…]. the mother must be submissive to the authority.
position from which she can hold power to a certain extent and be respected, and in order to reach this position, she uses and manipulates her feminine “attributes”. Just as when she was young she tried and managed to convince her boyfriend Felipe, out of the vendettas by trading her company (her sexuality) for his staying calm, as a mother she convinces her son Gerardo to face his enemy by bargaining her “motherhood” –and instigating his Oedipal complex. Mercedes, as Susana and Lupita, is a subject that desires autonomy from the rules of machismo, and as they did in the other films, she uses the attributes of archetypical femininity to access obtain what she wants. In the representation of women roles as subjects and not only objects of desire, the films of Luis Buñuel here analysed, underscore the discourse of resistance that is conveyed by Luis Buñuel. Whilst the archetypical representation is respected to a certain extent, it is evident that there is an undermining of these archetypes from within, and the representation of women, just as it is a catalyst for bridging the public into the private, functions as an instrument of disruption of the dominant order that is archetypically represented by men. Even if this disruption is contained within the narrative conventions, the women in these films are represented not as passive victims of a machista status quo, but as active dissidents that, like Buñuel did in the Mexican film industry, use the few arms they are given, and subvert the expected utility they have in order to set on the quest for their desires.
Conclusion Mexican films of the Golden Age provided the Mexican people with allegories that represented an idealised form of mexicanidad and endorsed the prevalence of the centralist power held by the post revolutionary party and its politics. Cinema, in this way, helped launching the country into the projects of modernisation and liberalisation that constitute Mexico’s current polity, moreover, it was a fundamental medium for the creation of an imaginary that provided the nation with a common identity based on props and stereotypes, but also on a stronghold of moral values that backed specific economical, political and social practices. Cinema, and especially the cultural policies that promoted it, had not come to terms with the country’s problematic history, for the construction of a national identity rather than being a process of self-recognition, was one of self-invention, and in this process issues like the country’s ethnic diversity, the unequal economic development, and great class divisions were all put together as a given, immobile fact, whilst Mexico moved forward lingering on its historic debts and projecting an image of itself through its cinema that essentially refuted any form of authentic dynamism. In the Mexico that can be read through the work of Luis Buñuel emerge the contradictions of this process of self-invention. The ways in which the director adapted to the ideological apparatus are most of times faithful to form, but not always to content, and certainly they do not fail on leaving a little room for a final suspicion that things are not as simple as they could seem in a happy ending. Through the use and adaptation of melodrama to his artistic needs, Luis Buñuel reflected the uneasiness with which Mexico sees itself. All of Buñuel’s films would, in one way or another, through stronger or milder means, defy the official image of Mexico, expose its internal and social disparities and invite to take a closer look, a look of self-discovery and recognition.
Luis Buñuel’s Mexican Filmography
Gran Casino (1946-47)
Other titles: Tampico / En el viejo Tampico Country: Mexico Production House: Películas Anahuac, S.A. Producer: Óscar Dancigers Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the novel El rugido del paraíso by Michel Weber Adaptation for the screen: Mauricio Magdaleno Cinematography: Jack Draper Cast: Libertad Lamarque (Mercedes Irigoyen), Jorge Negrete (Gerardo Ramírez), Mercedes Barba (Camelia), Agustín Isunza (Heriberto) Julio Villarreal (Demetrio García), José Baviera (Fabio), Alberto Bedoya (“El rayado"), Francisco Jambrina (José Enrique), Fernanda Albany (“Nenette”), Charles Rooner (Van Eckerman), Berta Lear (Raquel) “TríoCalaveras”, Ignacio Peón (el cochero), Julio Ahuet (el pistolero)
El gran calavera (1949)
Country: Mexico Production House: Ultramar Films Producer: Óscar Dancigers, Fernando Soler Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on a script of the same title by Adolfo Torrado Adaptation for the screen: Luis y Raquel Alcoriza Cinematography: Ezequiel Carrasco Cast: Fernando Soler (Don Ramiro), Rosario Granados (Virginia), Andrés Soler (Ladislao), Gustavo Rojo (Eduardo), Maruja Grifell (Milagros), Francisco Jambrina (Gregorio), Luis Alcoriza (Alfredo), Antonio Bravo (Alfonso), Antonio Monsell (Juan, the butler)
María Gentil Arcos (Felisa). Mario Ramírez (Ojitos). Ernesto Alonso (voice off) Susana (1950) Other titles: Susana: Carne y demonio and Susana: Demonio y carne Country: Mexico Director: Luis Buñuel Production House: Internacional Cinematográfica Producer: Sergio Kogan Story: Short story by Manuel Reachi Screenplay: Luis Buñuel Adaptation and dialogues: Jaime Salvador Cinematography: José Ortíz Ramos Cast: Fernando Soler (Don Guadalupe). Max Aub. Jesús García Navarro (Julián’s father). Luis Alcoriza. Javier Amezcua (Julián). Luis Alcoriza Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel.Los olvidados (1950) Country: Mexico Production House: Ultramar Films Producer: Óscar Dancigers Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Luis Buñuel. Roberto Cobo (Jaibo). Pedro de Urdimalas Cinematography: Gabriel Figueroa Cast: (Estela Inda (Marta. Víctor Manuel Mendoza (Jesús). Efraín Arauz (Cacarizo). Rosita Quintana. Luis López Somoza (Alberto). Jorge Pérez (Pelón). Francisco Jambrina (school-farm principal). Miguel Inclán (Don Carmelo. Alfonso Mejía (Pedro). Matilde Palou (Doña Carmen) La hija del engaño (1951) Other title: Don Quintín el amargao Country: Mexico 57 . Pedro’s mother). Alma Delia Fuentes (Meche). (Susana). the blind man).
Lily Aclémar (Jovita). Rubén Rojo (Paco). María Luisa Gómez Mena Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Manuel Reachi. Juan de la Cabada. Fernando Soto “Mantequilla” (Angelito). Alicia Caro (Marta). Amparo Garrido (María).Production House: Ultramar Films Producer: Óscar Dancigers Director: Luis Buñuel Story: based in the play by Carlos Arniches and Antonio Estremera Don Quintín el amargao o El que siembra los vientos Adaptation for the screen: Raquel and Luis Alcoriza Cinematography: José Ortíz Ramos Cast: Fernando Soler (Don Quintín Guzmán). Tito Junco (Julio Mistral). Álvaro Matute (Julio). Julio Villarreal (Carlos Montero). Javier Loyá (Miguel). Luis Buñuel 58 . Joaquín Cordero (Carlos). Jaime Calpe (Carlitos) Subida al cielo (1951-52) Country: Mexico Production House: Producciones cinematográficas Isla Producer: Manuel Altoaguirre. Manuel Altoaguirre Adaptation for the screen: Manuel Altoaguirre. Nacho Contla (Jonrón). Elda Peralta (Luisa). Roberto Meyer (Lencho García) Una mujer sin amor (1951) Other title: Cuando los hijos nos juzgan Country: Mexico Production House: Internacional cinematográfica. for Columbia Producer: Sergio Kogan Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the story Pierre et Jean by Guy de Maupassant Adaptation for the screen: Jaime Salvador Cinematography: Raúl Martínez Solares Cast: Rosario Granados (Rosario).
Jaime Fernández (Friday). Katy Jurado (Paloma) Rosita Arenas (Meche). Luis Aceves Castañeda (Silvestre). Gloria Mestre (María). Paco Martínez (don Pepe). Luis Alcoriza Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel Cinematography: Agustín Jiménez Cast: Pedro Armendáriz (Pedro “El bruto”). Manuel Noriega (Licenciado Figueroa). Esteban Márquez (Oliverio Grajales). Roberto Meyer (Carmelo González ).Cinematography: Alex Phillips Cast: Lilia Prado (Raquel). “Philip Ansel Roll” (Hugo Butler’s pseudonym) Cinematography: Alex Phillips Cast: Dan O’Herlihy (Robinson). Manuel Dondé (Don Eladio González. Paz Villegas (Doña Ester) El bruto (1952) Country: Mexico Production House: Internacional Cinematográfica Producer: Sergio Kogan Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Luis Buñuel. José Chávez and Emilio Garibay (mutiny) 59 . Gilberto González (Sánchez Coello). Beatríz Ramos (Doña Marta). Felipe de Alba (Captain Oberzo). Roberto Cobo (Juan). Beatriz Ramos (Elisa). Roberto Meyer (Nemesio Álvarez). Ehrlich (USA) Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the novel by Daniel Defoe Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel. the candidate). Paz Villegas (María’s mother) Robinson Crusoe (1952) Other title: Aventuras de Robinson Crusoe Country: Mexico / USA Production House: Tepeyac (Mexico) / United Artists (USA) Producer: Óscar Dancigers (Mexico) / Henry H. Carmelita González (Albina). Pedro Elvira (El cojo). Andrés Soler (Andrés Cabrera).
Rafael Banquells (Ricardo Luján). Carlos Martínez Baena (Father Velasco) La ilusión viaja en tranvía (1953) Country: Mexico Director: Luis Buñuel Production House: Clasa Films Mundiales Producer: Armando Orive Alba Story: Short story by Mauricio de la Serna Adaptation for the screen: Luis Alcoriza. Luis Beristáin (Raúl Conde). Fernando Soto “Mantequilla” (Tarrajas). José Revueltas. Manuel Dondé (Pablo.Él (1952-53) Country: Mexico Production House: Producciones Tepeyac Producer: Óscar Dancigers Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the novel by Mercedes Pinto Él Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel. Aurora Walker (Esperanza Peralta. Juan de la Cabada Cinematography: Raúl Martínez Solares Cast: Lilia Prado (Lupita). Miguel Manzano (Don Manuel). Agustín Isunza (Papá Pinillos). Gloria’s mother). Mauricio de la Serna. Luis Alcoriza Cinematography: Gabriel Figueroa Cast: Arturo de Córdova (Francisco Galván de Montemayor). Guillermo Bravo Sosa (Braulio) Abismos de pasión (1953-54) Other title: Cumbres borrascosas Country: Mexico Production House: Producciones Tepeyac Producer: Óscar Dancigers 60 . the butler). Carlos Navarro (Juan Caireles). Delia Garcés (Gloria).
Ernesto Alonso (Eduardo) Hortensia Santoveña (María). Alfredo Valera Jr. Víctor Alcocer (Polo Menchaca).A. Arduino Maiuri Cinematography: Agustín Jiménez Cast: Irasema Dillian (Catalina). Jaime Fernández (Rómulo Menchaca).Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel. Lilia Prado (Isabel). José Elías Moreno (Don Nemesio). Joaquín Cordero (Gerardo Anguiano). (Chinelas) Ensayo de un crimen (1955) Other title: La vida criminal de Archibaldo de la Cruz Country: Mexico Production House: Alianza Cinematográfica S. Miguel Torruco (Felipe Anguiano). Silvia Derbéz (Elsa). Jorge Mistral (Alejandro). Carlos Martínez Baena (Priest). Luis Aceves Castañeda (Ricardo) El río y la muerte (1954) Country: Mexico Director: Luis Buñuel Production House: Clasa Films Mundiales Producer: Armando Orive Alba Story: based on the novel Muro blanco sobre roca negra by Miguel Álvarez Acosta Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza Cinematography: Raúl Martínez Solares Cast: Columba Domínguez (Mercedes). Eduardo Ugarte Pages Cinematography: Agustín Jiménez 61 . Julio Alejandro. Producer: Alfonso Patiño Gómez Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Inspired by the novel Ensayo de un crimen by Rodrigo Usigli Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel.
Rosenda Monteros (“la Prieta”). Noé Nurayama (“el Pinto”). Armando Velasco (Judge) La Mort en ce jardin (1956) Other titles: La muerte en el jardín / La muerte en la selva Country: Mexico / France Production House: Producciones Tepeyac (Mexico) / Dismage (France) Producer: Óscar Dancingers / Jacques Mage Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the story by José André Lacour Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel. Luis Alcoriza. Raúl Ramírez (Álvaro). Andrea Palma (Ms Cervantes). priest). Tito Junco (Chenko). Producer: Manuel Barbachano Ponce Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the novel by Benito Pérez Galdós Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel. Leonor Llausás (Governess). Ofelia Guilmain (Chanfa). Ernesto Alonso (Archibaldo de la Cruz). Rita Macedo (Andara).A. the dwarf). Ariadna Welter (Carlota). Ignacio López Tarso (thieve). Carlos Martínez Baena (Priest). Michèle Girardon (María). Francisco Rabal (Father Nazario). Ada Carrasco (Josefa). Cast: Simone Signoret (Djin). Julio Alejandro Cinematography: Gabriel Figueroa Cast: Marga López (Beatríz). Luis Aceves Castañeda (Alberto) Nazarín (1958) Country: Mexico Production House: Producciones Barbachano Ponce S. Rita Macedo (Patricia Terrazas). Cecilia Leger (woman with pineapple) 62 . Geroges Marchal (Shark). Jesús Fernández (Ujo. Michel Piccoli (Father Lizardi). Raymond Queneau Cinematography: Jorge Stahl Jr. Charles Vanel (Castin).Cast: Miroslava Stern (Lavinia). Luis Aceves Castañeda (patricide). Edmundo Barbero (Don Ángel.
Jean Servais (Alejandro Gual).C. S. Luis Aceves Castañeda (López) The Young One (1960) Other title: La joven Country: Mexico / USA Production House: Producciones Olmeca (Mexico) / Columbia (USA) Producer: George P. Charles Dorat. (Mexico) / Uninci. Addis (Hugo Butler) Cinematography: Gabriel Figueroa Cast: Zachary Scott (Miller).A. Louis Sapin Cinematography: Gabriel Figueroa Cast: (Gérard Philipe (Ramón Vázquez). Miguel Ángel Ferris (Mariano Vargas). Kay Meersman (Evvie). María Félix (Inés Rojas). Luis Alcoriza. Víctor Junco (Indarte). Roberto Cañedo (colonel Olivares). Graham Denton (Jackson) Viridiana (1961) Country: Mexico / Spain Production House: Gustavo Alatriste. H. Claudio Brook (Father Fleetwood). P. Werker Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the story Travelin’ Man by Peter Mathiesen Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel.. Bernie Hamilton (Traver).B. Raúl Dantés (García) Domingo Soler (Juan Cárdenas). (Spain) Producer: Gustavo Quintana Director: Luis Buñuel 63 .La Fièvre monte à El Pao (1959) Other titles: La fiebre sube a El Pao / Los Ambiciosos Country: Mexico / France Production House: Fimex (Mexico) / Le Groupe des Quatre (France) Producer: Gregorio Wallerstein Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on the novel by Henry Castillou Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel.
José Calvo (Don Amalio). Producer: Gustavo Alatriste 64 . Nadia Haro (Ana Maynar). Luis Heredia (“el Poca”). Patricia de Morelos (Blanca). José Baviera (Leandro Gómez). Claudio Brook (Julio. Bertha Moss (Leonora) Simón del desierto (1964-65) Country: Mexico Production House: Gustavo Alatriste P. Jacqueline Andere (Alicia de Roc). the butler). Ofelia Montesco (Beatríz). José Manuel Amrtín (“el Cojo”). by Luis Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel. Enrique Rambal (Edmundo Nóbile). Producer: Gustavo Alatriste Director: Luis Buñuel Story: New version of the cinedrama Los náufragos de la calle Providencia. Carlos Conde). Xavier Massé (Eduardo). “la Valkiria”). Rosa Elena Durgel (Silvia).C. Tito Junco (Raúl). Augusto Benedicto (Dr. Fernando Rey (Don Jaime). Margarita Lozano (Ramona). Joaquín Roa (Don Ezequiel). Julio Alejandro. Victoria Zinny (Lucía). Enrique García Álvarez (Alberto Roc). Antonio Bravo (Russel). Xavier Loyá (Francisco Ávila). Ofelia Guilmain (Juana Ávila). Juan García Tienda (José. Luis Beristáin (Cristian Ugalde). Francisco Rabal (Jorge). César del Campo (Álvaro. leper).C. the colonel). Teresita Rabal (Rita). Sergio Mendizábal (“el Pelón) El ángel exterminador (1962) Other title: Los náufragos de la calle Providencia Country: Mexico Production House: Gustavo Alatriste P.Story: Luis Buñuel. Maruja Isbert (beggar). Luis Alcoriza Cinematography: Gabriel Figueroa Cast: Silvia Pinal (Leticia. Based on an idea by Luis Buñuel Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel Cinematography: José Fernández Aguayo Cast: Silvia Pinal (Viridiana). Patricia Morán (Rita Ugalde). Lucy Gallardo (Lucía de Nóbile). Lola Gaos (Enedina).
Hortensia Santoveña (Simón’s mother). Enrique Álvarez Félix (Hermano Matías). Jesús Fernández (shepard. Francisco Reiguera (monk). Enrique del Castillo (man with no hands).Director: Luis Buñuel Story: Based on an idea by Luis Buñuel Adaptation for the screen: Luis Buñuel. Silvia Pinal (the devil). the dwarf) 65 . Julio Alejandro de Castro Cinematography: Gabriel Figueroa Cast: Claudio Brook (Simón).
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