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Ghosts of the Revolution in Mexican Literature and Visual Culture

Revisitations in Modern and Contemporary Creative Media


Edited By Erica Segre

The official centenary commemorating the Mexican Revolution of 1910 provided scholars with an opportunity to consider memorialization and its legacies and ‘afterimages’ in the twentieth century through to the present time. This collection of new essays, commissioned from experts based in Mexico, Europe and the United States, plays on the interrelated notions of ‘revisitation’, haunting, residual traces and valediction to interrogate the Revolution’s multiple appearances, reckonings and reconfigurations in art, photography, film, narrative fiction, periodicals, travel-testimonies and poetry, examining key constituencies of creative media in Mexico that have been involved in historicizing, contesting or evading the mixed legacies of the Revolution. The interplay of themes, practices and contexts across the chapters (ranging from the 1920s through to the present day) draws on interdisciplinary thinking as well as new findings, framing the volume’s discourse with a deliberately multi-dimensional approach to an often homogenized topic. The contributors’ scholarly referencing of artists, novelists, poets, photographers, foreign correspondents, critics, filmmakers and curators is detailed and wide-ranging, creating new juxtapositions that include some rarely studied material.


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Dolores Tierney Residual Presences of the Revolution(ary Melodrama) in Mexico’s Filmmaking


Dolores Tierney Residual Presences of the Revolution(ary Melodrama) in Mexico’s Contemporary Transnational Filmmaking1 If we compare two characters, one from a classical Mexican film – Rogelio (Emilio Fernández) from Flor silvestre (Fernández, 1943) – and the other from a contemporary transnational Mexican film – Santiago (Gael García Bernal) from Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006) – what is instantly noticeable are the qualities and visual attributes they share (see Figures 9.1 and 9.2). Rogelio and Santiago are violent and unpredictable characters who in addition are both visually characterized by large moustaches.2 They both conform to the Mexican ‘bandit’ type, established by Hollywood in the silent era, but incorporated into the vernacular of Mexican cinematic language in the 1940s.3 Drawing these two characters from very dif ferent eras in Mexican film production together is a less arbitrary act than it 1 I would like to thank both the editor of this volume and also Miriam Haddu for her insightful comments on this piece. 2 In Flor Silvestre Rogelio is the leader of a group of bandits who pillage the farm and kill the father of the protagonist José Luis (Pedro Armendáriz) while he is away fight- ing in the Revolution. When José Luis returns and hangs Rogelio’s brother Ursulo in retribution, Rogelio holds his wife Esperanza (Dolores del Río) and baby hostage until José Luis surrenders himself. He then executes José Luis in front of Esperanza. In Babel Santiago is the nephew of Amelia (Adriana Barraza), Mexican nanny...

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