Directed by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov. With Félix Balderas, Sara García, Martín Hernández
US/USSR/Mexico 1931-32, 35mm, b/w, 88 min. Russian with English subtitles
In Los Angeles in 1930, after his attempts to make a film in Hollywood had come to naught, Eisenstein found in author Sinclair Lewis a patron for a proposed project in Mexico. The film was meant to present a historical pageant of Mexico in several episodes, from the pre-Colombian era to the aftermath of the 1910 Revolution. Shooting progressed off and on for most of 1931, but the production was pre-empted by Stalin’s demand that Eisenstein return to Mexico and by Lewis’s withdrawal of funding. Decades later, after Eisenstein’s death, his frequent collaborator Gregori Alexandrov used the existing footage and Eisenstein’s scenario to assemble an approximation of the film, albeit without the proposed climactic section depiction of the 1910 Revolution, which was never shot. The result provides a fascinating glimpse at what might have been Eisenstein’s greatest work, a remarkable collage of fiction, documentary and ethnography replete with riveting imagery that presents Mexico itself as a montage of the archaic and the modern.
Preceded by BEZHIN MEADOW (1937, 35mm, b/w, 31 min)