¡Que Viva México!
When I started this blog back in two thousand ten, I was just discovering Mexican film, and I thought it would be a good idea to do a short survey of the country’s cinema. At the time I envisioned spending a few months on the project. And here I am actually wrapping it up almost two years later. During that time, I learned a few things….
First, I learned that blogging can be hard work. I initially thought I’d try to post every two weeks. On average I’ve actually been posting about every two months. One reason for this is that I write slowly. Not sure if I can change that. But another reason is that almost all of the films I’ve written about were new to me. I had to watch many of them two or three times just to figure out what I wanted to say. In the future I’d like to spend more time on movies I’m familiar with. Hopefully that will translate into more frequent posts.
Second, I’ve learned a lot about Mexican cinema. When I started writing on the subject I’d only seen a handful of films. My knowledge is still pretty limited, but I’ve come to realize how rich Mexican cinema is. It’s been like opening a door on a whole new world. Mexico has produced some amazing talent, both behind the camera and in front of it. I know there are a lot of wonderful films I have yet to see.
And finally, I’ve learned a lot about Mexico. I’ve looked at books on the country’s history. I’ve spent some time following current events on the net. So I feel like I have a vague grasp of where Mexico is and how it got there. But you can only learn so much from reading history, and the media never gives more than part of the story. Art in general, and cinema in particular, can bring us right into a nation’s soul. As I said in writing about Pueblerina, the film does not show the reality of Mexico, but it brings us to the heart of the country’s mythology. Movies like Lo que importa es vivir and El jardín del Edén reveal subtle, complex truths that can’t be stated in words. An image of a man walking down a dusty street. The sound of musicians playing in a camp by the border. Language can be used to communicate, but it can also create barriers. Images and sounds can speak to you no matter what your native language is.
Mexico has just elected a new president. It’s hard to say exactly what that means. Given the massive problems facing the country, it’s unrealistic to hope that a different chief executive will bring about some kind of magic transformation. But one thing that Peña Nieto could do is stop the government’s insane war on drugs. Even if this policy has weakened the cartels, it hasn’t weakened the basic dynamic that drives the drug trade. And it has caused incredible violence, killing tens of thousands of citizens.
The violence needs to stop. ¡Viva México!