Time Moved On, Fernandez Did Not
Curtis Allan | Seattle, WA | 06/03/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big fan of Emilio Fernandez, my favorite Mexican director. I have also had a fixation with Lilia Prado, who gets my vote for the sexiest woman in Mexican film history. Needless to say I was excited to check out Pueblito when it was recently released on DVD.
Pueblito is essentially a melodrama in the same fashion of Fernandez's earlier films like Rio Escondido (1948). Maria Elena Marquez plays the helpless but determined teacher who has a burning desire to build a school. Fernando Soler plays the cruel cacique, the always elegant Columba Dominguez (El Indio's real life wife) plays a simple peasant woman, and Lilia Prado plays the cacique's eye-catching wife.
Nothing is really wrong here, but a couple of shortcomings deserve mention. First of all, buxom Lilia Prado just seems flat, especially compared to her incredibly sexy role in Bunuel's Subido al Cielo. Its not so much the extra ten years that weight her down, perhaps its the bad hairdo and a lack of opportunity afforded by the script. Or maybe it has something to do with the camera angles by cinematographer Alex Phillips, who never managed to capture what really made her special. Finally, except for some nice shots in the church capturing the nobility of human suffering, Phillips at best provides reasonable imitations of Figueroa's work. There was nothing new or innovative in his efort here.
From 1944-1950, Emilio Fernandez's films were as good or better than anything being produced anywhere on Earth. But by 1962, the art of cinema had moved forward with realism as exhibited in films like The 400 Blows, La Dolce Vita, and L'Avventura. In the same year, David Lean put forth his great masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia. Pueblito shows that Fernandez was still in the same place as he was in the 1940s; sadly, the world of film had left him behind.
Regarding the DVD there are no subtitles and no special features worthy of mention. It is presented in full screen."