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Friday Night Films

¡Que viva México!

16.5.2014

Mexican Cinema: ¡Que viva México! (1931)

Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Alexandrov / Cert. PG / 90 mins

Friday 16 May 2014 / 7pm / £5 (concessions £3)

Pre-book on 01908 676 900

 

With sequences devoted to the Eden-like land of Tehuantepec, the savage majesty of the bullfight, the struggles of the noble peasant and the hypnotic imagery of the Day of the Dead, ¡Que viva México! is a vivid tapestry of Mexican life.

 

 

 

 

Background

 

Sergei Eisenstein shot ¡Que viva México! in Mexico in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression. The  financiers of this project were the author Upton Sinclair, his wife Mary Craig and a small group of their friends. They had great difficulties in keeping the production going; the economic crisis forced Sinclair to call a halt to it in early 1932. Shooting was stopped with most of the work completed; only one episode could not be filmed. At the same time Josef Stalin insisted on Eisenstein's return to the Soviet Union.

 

Eisenstein left Mexico with Sinclair's promise in mind; that all the negatives would be sent to him to enable the final editing of the film in Moscow. Sinclair tried several times in vain to transfer the film footage to Russia, but the Soviet Film Industry was instructed not to import the film. Eisenstein had been denounced both as a political renegade and as a Trotskyite, which was, in the eyes of Stalin, a serious offence. Preventing Eisenstein from finishing his Mexican film was Stalin's punishment. Consequently Eisenstein was left without film work for several years and started teaching at the State Film School. The Stalinist propaganda, which heaped all the blame on Upton Sinclair for the tragic end of ¡Que viva México!, prevailed.


Two films utilizing Eisenstein's film footage were made with Upton Sinclair's permission: Thunder over Mexico made in 1933 by Sol Lesser and Time in the Sun, made by Mary Seton in 1939/40. In the 1950s, Sinclair deposited the unedited materials of Eisenstein's film with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the subsequent work of Jay Leyda to make them accessible.


Many film-historians are convinced that ¡Que viva México! is one of Eisenstein's greatest films. ¡Que viva México! stood at the crossroads of Eisenstein’s artistic development and at a crucial point in the evolution of the art of the cinema. 

 

May 2014

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What are Friday Night Films?

A pop up cinema offering an alternative film experience!  Devised by Independent Cinema MK in association with MK Gallery. Enjoy new releases, cult classics, special events,
screen talks and curated film seasons – all for £5 (£3 concs.). Our screen bar provides modestly priced wine, beer, tea, coffee and soft drinks.