Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Emilio Fernández: Los Islas Marías, Take One

'Outsanding melodrama' is my initial response to Emilio Fernández' Los Islas Marías (1951). The over-the-top soundtrack befits it as with other early 1950s movies, especially film noir or science fiction types, but it is also akin to something equally melodramatic such as The Lost Weekend (1945). We are treated to sultry women. Honor. Family. An eclectic mix of labor, celebration and crime. A federal penal colony. Redemption.

Emilio "El Indio"/"The Indian" Fernández fashions a story that revolves around a dysfunctional family in a manner resembling a tale by Fyodor Dostoyevsky seasoned by Flannery O'Connor and filtered through Mexican culture. Fantastic! 

I'll just give the basic set up. First, we follow Doña Rosa Suárez (Rosaura Revueltas) as she proudly, joyously goes around town making arrangements for the celebration of her youngest son's graduation from the Military Academy. She invites all sorts of people to the event, which will be held at the family villa. It's only a little later that we see things are not at all ideal under the surface, however. Her husband, an officer in the Mexican Army, is dead, pehaps killed during the Mexican Revolution or in more recent disturbances. She can't really afford to maintain the family household, even though she retains servants. Her beautiful daughter Alejandra (Esther Luquín) is either a courtesan or otherwise involved in some shady business, with shady men. Her oldest son Felipe (Pedro Infante) hangs out at nightclubs, sings love songs, drinks heavily, has several women admirers, yet acts (and feels inside) like an abject failure. This is why all of Doña Rosa's hopes are now pinned on Felipe's younger brother Ricardo (Jaime Fernández), set to enter the Army as a second lieutenant, in the footsteps of their father. He is her pride and joy. But things will not go as planned -- that's the set up.

Today's Rune: Defense.      

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm in the Mexican part of the Red Dead Redemption game right now so this strikes a chord.