Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Pedro Armendriz, Arturo Soto Bangel, Margarita Cortes, Dolores del Rio, Lupe Garnica
Directors: Emilio Fernndez, Emilio Fernandez
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Ships the next day
AN ALMOST UNWATCHABLE DVD VERSION
anonymous | United States | 10/22/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I've been eager to acquire this film on DVD because it is one of the great films of the golden age of Mexican cinema, with outstanding cinematography and a marvelous story. That said, I am embarrassed for the distributor that has released this particular version on DVD because a) they apparently don't know how historically important it is and have spewed out a disgraceful version; or b) they lacked the funding or proper materials to restore it (or clean it); or c) they may have felt that it wasn't worth the investment to restore for x reasons, i.e., limited market appeal; or d) all of the above. I'm only speculating, but this is my opinion as a consumer who paid good money for this product. I bought it in good faith, saw it, was extremely disappointed, but didn't return it because it's the only version of this masterpiece that I've been able to find, and it's almost tolerable on a small screen, like a laptop. (Forget about it seeing it on a hi def TV!) My memory of this film--and I saw it on television years ago as a child--is much sharper and pristine than this unfortunate version. This B-movie treatment reflects several things in my book, mainly a complete lack of respect not only for great Mexican cinema, but for the pocket and intelligence of the consumer! We are, after all, living in the XXI century. I've seen public domain titles in better condition than this. This movie won the Grand Prix in Cannes in 1946! It deserves much, much better than what I paid for."
Best Available DVD of a Classic Mexican Film
Curtis Allan | Seattle, WA | 10/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must say I do sympathize with the prior reviewer, as Maria Candelaria (Xochimilco) is a very subtly classic film that is not so immediately striking. Like most Mexican films of the period (and especially those of Emilio Fernandez) it is extremely melodramatic at times (Maria is waiting for her piglet to grow up before she can sell it to buy a dress so that she can get properly married!). Yet the songs we hum upon first listen are rarely the ones that stand the test of time. Personally, I did not find much in my first viewings of either The Grand Illusion or the Third Man, two of the greatest of classic films. Maria Candelaria, not unlike those films, is a nut which is not cracked and swallowed whole on the first try.
Del Rio is largely forgotten in the U.S. today (not to mention in Mexico), but she was one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the late silent era. She was married to the man who designed the Oscar statue. Even as late as '33, she still got top billing over Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. In 1942, Orson Welles fell madly in love with del Rio after working with her in Journey into Fear. Her return to Mexico in 1943 was considered quite a big deal.
Regarding the film's place in time, it helps immensely to first watch Fernandez's two prior efforts, Soy Puro Mexicano (1942) and then Flor Silvestre (1943), to get an idea of the level of progression which took place here. Soy Puro Mexicano looks like an even cruder Mexican WWII spin-off of Hitchcock's 30s British style. Flor Silvestre follows much the same storytelling pattern as Maria Candelaria, but it looks much more rudimentary in execution. Maria Candelaria marked the first truly high water note of the Fernandez/Figueroa style, in 1944, which they often equaled but never really surpassed. Thus this film stands all the taller for its early date of production. And comparing it to American films of the same year (almost pure war propaganda), it looks even better.
Regarding the film, it is highly innovative on a number of levels. First, it was made largely outdoors in the real location of Xochimilco with often moving cameras (whereas a recent classic like Casablanca was filmed entirely in a California studio/back lot). The camerawork by Gabriel Figueroa in that environment is superb. Secondly, the script is full of subtle ironies of real rural Mexican life (certainly pulled from Fernandez's actual experiences) never before put to screen. Take for instance Don Damian (Miguel Inclan, one of the greatest character actors in cinema history), who insists on berating the locals as "indios" despite being darker skinned than they. This aggressive malinchista streak persists in Mexico today. While generally considered sympathetic to the plight of Mexico's indigenous majority, Fernandez clearly evokes an ugly streak in their nature thru the way Maria Candelaria (Dolores del Rio) is treated. The daughter of a "puta", Maria is kept virtually imprisoned on her chinampa (island plot) by her neighbors. And while far from having white features, Del Rio clearly looks less than purely native, which would have incited the malinchista-streaked villagers against her even more (quietly jealous of her fair complexion, probably the result of one of her mother's more well-to-do clients). The irony of a dark-skinned jefe inciting mestizo "indios" against a fair-skinned "india" was certainly not lost on Fernandez. Maria's dealings with the Porfiriato legal system and her star-crossed love only add more layers to the irony of that injustice. That is the real Mexico that Fernandez wanted to put to screen.
The item here reviewed is the Televisa Mexican DVD release from their Alter's Collection. It is highly recommended. It is region 1/4 (plays on U.S. players just fine), has excellent optional English & Spanish subtitles, the image has been cleaned up considerably, and the packaging is very nicely done. All the menus and art are in Spanish but they are easy enough to navigate. No real extras to speak of, but this is a must-have DVD for Mexican cinephiles or anyone who considers himself a classic film connoisseur."
A True Mexican Classic
Lucia Ruiz | Stockton, CA | 08/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie covers almost all elements of human sentiment: from love to hate, everything in between such as admiration and respect as well as envy and greed --all of which can cause the destruction of another person's life even to the point of committing unjust murder. In this movie, you can appreciate the true and sincere affection that two persons can have for one another with all the innocent in the world--a love so pure, that it moves you. You will also learn and understand why the indigenous people were (and some still are) so reserved and timid of the white man or outsiders (fuereños). In this movie, of course, the native people of Xochimilco were the Mexicas (who spoke Nahuatl). This movie presents the true Xochimilco with its natural beauty and lovely chinampas as it was then and it makes you reflect on what we have done to destroy much of Mexico's true and natural beauty. I highly recommend this movie. It's such a masterpiece."