Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fernando De Fuentes: ¡Vámonos con Pancho Villa!

Fernando De Fuentes' ¡Vámonos con Pancho Villa! / Let's Go with Pancho Villa! (1936) is the All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) of the Mexican Revolution. Both are based on novels (Rafael Muñoz's ¡Vámonos con Pancho Villa!, 1931, and Erich Maria Remarque's Im Westen nichts Neues, 1928/1929). Both are archetypal war stories, in a way that goes all the way back to The Iliad: Enthusiastic men -- in this case six guys -- volunteer for war, are developed enough to engender empathy, become disillusioned and, since by then it's far too late to escape their fates, decimated.  Here, the men join up for the adventure and a vague sense of justice and are promised, along with their peers, land and liberty. But in the end, what land? What liberty?

A great film made when the Mexican Revolution, which looks on screen like a mix between the Wild West and the First World War, was still fresh.  Troop trains, revolutionaries with big hats, bandoliers and horses, federales with rifles and machine gun nests, artillery, trenches and bugles -- it's all there.  One scene has federales holed up in a fortified position, sweeping the approaches with a search light -- that scene sticks, as do many others.  The entire cast is good, especially Antonio R. Frausto as Don Tiburcio Maya, the 40-something leader of  Los Leones ("The Lions") de San Pablo.

If you like war or anti-war movies, early sound film or Latin American history, this one's for you.  If you're looking for comedy, mellow or sophisticated special effects, not so much. 

Today's Rune: Harvest.


Charles Gramlich said...

You are making me really want to read some Mexican history.

the walking man said...

I am tired of war, all war. There has not been one day of peace since I was born almost 6 decades ago.