Revolution and Adventure: Mexican Cinema in the Golden Age


Programme and notes curated by Daniela Michel e Chlöe Roddick
in collaboration with Filmoteca de la UNAM e Cineteca National México


This programme aims to offer a broad spectrum of work that explores some of the most significant political, social and cultural moments in Mexican history. Beginning with the nascent sound cinema of the early 1930s, the selection encompasses a variety of styles and genres through the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s.
The selection is bookended by two films that were considered highly controversial in their time – Fernando de Fuentes’ El compadre Mendoza (1933) and Julio Bracho’s La sombra del caudillo (1960) – both of which offer a devastating commentary on the Revolution and its aftermath. De Fuentes’ film, part of a trilogy of work that dealt harshly with the violence and tainted ideologies of the armed uprising, tells the story of an opportunistic landowner who cruelly betrays those around him in order to save his own life, while La sombra del caudillo is a damning exploration of corruption and political maneuvering within Mexican politics, which was censored in Mexico for thirty years. These films set the tone for this collection of eight classic Mexican films, which, considered as a whole, offers a critical and intelligent exploration of the widespread disenchantment that the Revolution left in its wake, and an exciting showcase of the varied artistic responses that it provoked over four decades.
With a stellar collective cast, including some of the most important actors in Mexican cinema history – María Félix, Arturo de Córdova, Jorge Negrete, Gloria Marín, Andrea Palma, Fernando Soler, Pedro Armendáriz and Ninón Sevilla, among others – the films range in genre from the gothic thriller Dos monjes (Juan Bustillo Oro, 1934) to the traditional, rural work of Emilio ‘El Indio’ Fernández, by way of the musical and the melodrama. From the explosive eroticism of the Cabaret film in Aventurera (Alberto Gout, 1950), to the sophisticated cinema of directors like Julio Bracho, Roberto Gavaldón and Alejandro Galindo, the programme offers a window onto the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, and beyond; a way for viewers to begin to understand the complex changes that were at work in a country in a state of flux.

Daniela Michel and Chloë Roddick


Photo: El Compadre Mendoza by Fernando de Fuentes (1933)