Written by: Carroll Jenkins on August 19th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Mexico, 2006
Director: Juan Mora Catlett
Writer: Juan Mora Catlett
Cast: Carlos Enrique Alarcón, Édgar Alejandre, Erandini Catalina Alvarado Villegas, Rubén Bautista, Teresa de la Luz Chavira Leal, Luís Copérnico, Noel Cordero, José Flores Martínez, Daniela Fuentes Marín, Alberto García, Sergio González Pérez, Yuritzi Gómez Ramírez, Luís Esteban Huacúz Dímas, Adelaida Huerta, Ismael Marcelino, Manuel Martínez Ruiz, Marco Antonio Ortiz, Roberto Isidro Rangel, Justo Alberto Rodríguez, Xochiquetzal Rodríguez, Ireneo Rojas, Soledad Ruiz, Mari Carmen Valentin
DVD released: January 27th, 2009
Approximate running time: 107 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Puréhpecha
DVD Release: Facets
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
This a coming of age story of Eréndira during the conquest and her taming of a Spanish horse (‘hornless deer’). There are ‘emotional’ elements present with the conflicting interests of Eréndira, her rejected fiance, and her affinity for his younger brother. In the end, Eréndira is remembered through the ages as a strong warrior woman who represents the determination of the indigenous Central American cultures to maintain their cultural identity.
The story is the focus, but not the point, of the feature. Director / writer and Professor Juan Mora Catlett’s primary desire is to present pre-Columbian culture to a modern audience. The film is almost entirely spoken in the authentic Puréhpecha dialect. Ancient codices provide not only inspiration for the script, but also figure prominently in scene transitions and symbolically interact with the live action, representing extreme grue and death without being shocking or exploitative.
It is obvious that the Puréhpecha, frequently captives to the Eagle Knight Warriors of the Aztecs, were accustomed to the the atrocities of human sacrifice – and thus it is presented here in such as way as not to shock the audience. However matter-of-fact they may be, there are violent and attrocious acts committed, but they don’t seem villainous. Except for the Spaniards.
One intriguing aspect of the film has the conquistadors appearing in traditional Mexican Spaniard masks throughout most of the film. That’s because they are viewed as ‘gods’ by the natives. Occasionally they are seen in the guise of the European Devil masks when their inhumanity arises to the surface (avarice, bloodlust). But during the infrequent POV amongst themselves we see them as Spanish humans.
Excellent anamorphic widescreen presentation with English subtitles and Puréhpecha language. Photography was with various digital cameras, then the completed edit was transferred to 35mm.
The masks, the mayhem, and the alluring sight of Eréndira dressed only in elaborate [and transparent] pastel body paint is enough to recommend this flick, but even more importantly, this is an accessible and rather unique insight into a ‘primitive’ culture, for better or worse. And despite the National Velvet aspects, this is NOT FOR CHILDREN.
Note: More background on the feature by the director / writer / Professor himself: http://www.drclas.harvard.edu/revistaweb/its_film/catlett