Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Revolucion: Grade A


Revolucion (2010)

Unknown (to me) Mexican actors; Unknown (to me) Mexican directors. (Spanish, subtitled).

You will have to search for this DVD, but it is well worth looking. Netflix claims to have it. It was shown last fall at the New York Film Festival and I caught it at the 2011 Portland (OR) film festival.

The government of Mexico, through its National Mexican Institute of Cinematography, commissioned ten well-established directors to produce short films for the centennial of the Mexican Revolution. The ten shorts are not directly about that revolution in the sense that they do not attempt to document what happened. Rather, they are works of art, about the theme of revolution in general, and Mexican experience in particular.

So for example, the first one shows a small town brass band rehearsing a welcoming tune for some big forthcoming arrival, unspecified, in the manner of Waiting for Godot. The music is amateur and terrible, but the players mean well. The film focuses with compassion and humor on the tribulations of the tuba player as he prepares for the big event, but in the end, Godot never arrives. It’s a terrific piece of film in its own right, but under the umbrella concept it is also a strong political comment: “Revolution? What revolution? We are still waiting for the revolution.”

The other nine are equally beautiful, well-crafted, moving, and thought-provoking. Some comment on the futility of violence in general, some on its absurdity, some on the meaninglessness of political revolutions where nothing really changes. Two took up the theme of how the memory and “celebration” of the revolution only trivialize the suffering and passion of those who took part in it. There are as many ideas about revolution as there were directors. Every one of the pieces is a gem of filmmaking.

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