¡Que viva Mexico!

Screening on Film
Directed by Sergei M Eisenstein; adapted by Grigori Aleksandrov.
With Felix Balderas, Martin Hernandez, David Liceaga.
US/USSR/Mexico, 1932, 35mm, black & white, 85 min.
Russian with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA

In 1930, Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein signed a contract with the novelist Upton Sinclair and various other investors (including the Gillette Razor Company) to shoot a film in Mexico. By the end of 1931, with some fifty hours of film shot, Sinclair became restive at the apparently unending flow of footage and suspended the project. Eisenstein left for the Soviet Union, expecting the rushes to be sent to him for completion. They never arrived, however, and the project languished for more than forty years until Grigori Aleksandrov, Eisenstein’s former editor, obtained the material and constructed the most well-known of the many versions that imagine what Eisenstein might have done. The result is a glorious and compelling vision of a mystical Mexico, ravishingly photographed by Eduard Tisse. Told in five segments, with the ultimate ambition of creating "a poem of love, death, and immortality," Eisenstein explores different aspects of indigenous life as well as the plight of the Indians after the Spanish conquest and Catholic indoctrination.

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