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I May Destroy You
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The story behind this lost film is quite an interesting one, as interesting as this fine restoration by Grigori Aleksandrov, released in 1979.
Some of the shots are absolutely breathtaking. Eisenstein was a pioneer in the truest sense of the word.
It shows the good side of my country, the traditions, the people, everything, too bad Eisenstein couldn't watch it.
El proyecto soñado de Eisestein nunca se concretó. Y eso es lo que nos dice el filme al principio, es un intento de Grigori Alexandrov (uno de sus colaboradores en el proyecto) de recuperar esa visión y proyecto. Cada episodio nos muestra un México lleno de tradiciones y encantador, y aunque en ciertas ocasiones el Score puede ser extraño, lleno de sintetizadores y sonidos psicodélicos, en su mayoría funciona. Nunca veremos la visión completa del Maestro, pero sin lugar a dudas la versión de Grigori es un buen intento por mostrar la pasión de Eisestein hacía el proyecto. Sea para verlo por morbo, curiosidad, o conocer la visión de nuestro pais por medio de uno de los grandes directores, vale mucho la pena.
Que Viva Mexico begins as a documentary about Mexican culture and lifestyle in the late 1920's. The viewer is shown the wildlife, architectural landmarks, a wedding ceremony, bullfighting, how the locals make alcohol out of cactus juice, amongst other things. Throughout the first part of the film, everything seems well done, mostly appropriate and apolitical. The Russian voicever slightly exotifies the subjects, but is overall decently done.
About halfway in, we are shown a Mexican girl who gets raped by a guard at a wealthy mansion. Thus, Eisenstein's documentary turns into a dramatized tale of savage revenge. Supposedly, Eisenstein shot between 30-50 hours of footage and the film was never seen to completion. However, it is still mindboggling why the different parts of the film follow almost completely different agendas, effectively taking away any validity and voice away from the motion picture. I cannot help but wonder if this was done to exotify Mexicans as fascinating savages for the proletariat viewers back in Eisenstein's home country.
With one of the worst screenplays ever, Sergei Eisenstein did one of the greatest movies, with a wonderful style and sensitive editing, but while it obviously doesn't reach the milestone of its previous masterpiece, this is a great example that the director can save a production.
Not the greatest film Eisenstein ever made, but still, Que Viva Mexico is filled with many memorable images and scenes.
Like many a foreign film director, Sergei Eisenstein, of all people, also went to Hollywood to make his fortune but could not reach a deal with Paramount Pictures.(The more things change, the more things stay the same.) Instead, he hooked up with Upton Sinclair to make a movie about Mexico with Diego Rivera one of the guides.
"Que Viva Mexico" is the result of those efforts, restored some years after the fact and sadly missing one of its planned episodes that was never made due to low funds. This was apparently shot on silent film stock with sound effects and a musical soundtrack that veers between electronic and Ennio Morricone on acid added later.
"Que Viva Mexico" is a rousing ethnographic panorama of the country from pre-Colombian days to the then present day. Through these brief episodes, made with no professional actors, we get a wide glimpse of Mexico's changing attitudes and customs over times. For example, the sacrifices that now occur are the bulls in the ring, with an early use of the 'bull cam.'
One of the best documentaries never made.