Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Alla en el Rancho Grande |
Over at the Big Ranch
Actor: Margarita Cortes; Esther Fernandez; Juan Garcia; Emma Roldan; Alfonso Sanchez Tello; Sr. René Cardona; Emilio Fernandez; Tito Guizar; Lorenzo Barcelata
Director: Fernando de Fuentes
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
ALLA EN EL RANCHO GRANDE (OVER AT THE BI
An early milestone of Mexican cinema, much better than I exp
ixta_coyotl | Seattle, WA | 10/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is generally held in much lower regard than de Fuentes' other 1936 classic, Vamanos con Pancho Villa. The conventional wisdom is that Alla en el Rancho Grande, despite having been a huge commercial success, lacked the artistic merits and brave political message of Vamanos con Pancho Villa, which a survey of Mexican cinephiles rated the most important Mexican film ever in a famous 1994 survey. This film, on the other hand, has been generally regarded in Mexico as fodder for the ignorant masses, which set off the culturally embarrassing genre of the ranch comedy.
With my expectations tempered by that background, I must say that I found Alla en el Rancho Grande to be quite an outstanding surprise. For starters, the humor is actually funny; yet it's done with a subtlety and restraint quite uncommon in Mexican "comedy". This is a testament to the skill of the actors, as well as the director and editor. Secondly, the film does a good job of providing a look into the true life of a Mexican village, with references to atole and pulque and the like. It's also filmed on location and it looks and feels authentic. Maybe those are factors which drew audiences in the day, not just their presumed lack of sophistication (and by the way, it also played in US theaters and won an award at the Venice Film Festival). The storyline is well developed and cast of characters is fairly busy; this is not a primitive talkie like most Mexican films of the 1930s. And the songs are all well done and interesting (you'll note no less than the great Emilio Fernandez in the cockfight dance). Gabriel Figueroa (a student of Eisenstein and a contemporary of Greg Tolland) does steady early work here as cinematographer. Finally, Esther Fernandez is perfectly cast as the orphaned Cruz; her youthful spark and ever-so-slightly coquettish glances provide a remarkable complexity and attraction to her character, which in fact make the whole story line plausible.
Mexican cinephiles tend to be excessively slanted towards high art in film (call it elitism), and are also frequently tinted by a mild strain of malinchismo (a peculiar yet pernicious domestic strain of self-loathing or mental slavery). Unencumbered by those mental deficiencies, I must say that Alla en el Rancho Grande might actually be the height of pre classic Mexican cinema.
A final note, de Fuentes remade this film in 1949 with Jorge Negrete in the lead. Needless to say, it was a sad retread unworthy of the original film.
Regarding the DVD, the subtitles sometimes leave a little of the translation on the cutting room floor and also suffered some editing difficulties with the tilde. The image quality certainly did not receive the Criterion service, as there are occasional flickers and blurs on the negative. That said, the image never detracted from my enjoyment of the film, in fact it almost gave it a more classic feel. Even more importantly, this film was completely unavailable before this new DVD release (not even on pirata copies in Mexico) so it's newfound availability invites a new generation of film viewers to watch it and reevaluate its significance.
R. Villarreal | Mexico | 11/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the film that started the mexican cinema industry worldwide and went on to win prizes , even though it's not an excellent movie: it has the folklore and the songs, also the picaresque along with melodrama. It's a very good print taken from the original negatives, so it's quite a great experience..."
Bellacoscia | Ain, France | 06/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie itself has aged rather gracefully, perhaps even better than many US and European movies of the 1930's. The ostensible righteousness of the plot leaves some cracks through which one has glimpses of a not-so-quite-all-right situation (the rather likeable drunkard proclaims himself to be a "comunista", the drunkard's wife who sheltered a deceased friend's kids is unfazed to sell one of them, grown to be a lovely girl, to the ranchero for a few pesos). The actors' play looks surprisingly restrained, the more so if one had recently a look at other movies of the 30's.
This DVD was produced from a film copy in a barely acceptable condition (blurs and scratches in a few image sequences). It deserved a better attention in the digital treatment of the original soundtrack. However, the songs by Tito Guizar, actor-composer-singer Lorenzo Barcelata and the two supporting trios come out rather nicely : one sad exception is the serenade sung by Guizar during the "mañanitas" given to the ranchero's fiancee."