Updates, Live

Friday, October 31, 2014

El Infierno

El Infierno, 2010
(Historia de México 2010)
no copyright infringement intended

Benny Garcia had left Mexico as a young fellow to find his fortune in US. What happened with Benny during his stay in US nobody told us, maybe it was good, maybe it was not so good, suffice it to say that after twenty years they deported the guy back to Mexico. To be again home after so many years had its charm, there were the guitars and sombreros, and all the good stuff, plus Benny had the gringo experience, which meant he was able to ride on both worlds. Not exactly, as the gringo experience proved kind of confusing in what he found home. His younger brother had been killed and he had to find the authors and take revenge, actually killings looked very common, the brother's girlfriend, Guadelupe by name, was making ends meet as a prostitute at Café México, her son was rising up as a loose cannon, plus Benny was irresistibly attracted by Guadelupe (who was terribly hot, no question about). Was that the hell or what?

(source: Facebook page of Enrique Martinez)
no copyright infringement intended

A childhood friend helped him adjust. The hell was rather a paradise, provided you were in the gang of Don Reyes. El Infierno was El Paradiso, more exactly El Narco (that was the definition of paradise: being in the narcotic business). All you had to do was to execute the orders of Don Reyes (including to kill now and then), and you had plenty of money, plenty of drinks, a big car, any women you wanted, the order you had them was your choice. Wasn't that splendid? Everybody,  the mayor, the police, the priest, all the others, were under the authority of Don Reyes. Well, it was also the rival gang, of Don Pancho, the two bosses were actually brothers, and the war between them had ups and downs, sometimes it was hot, with mutual killings and disfigurement of victims (fingers and/or ears cut, sometimes beheadings, stuff like that, drones weren't yet so popular), some other times the war was put on hold. All this was keeping the men in that village very busy. The kids dreamed to enter one of the two gangs,  as for the women and old men, it was another story, they weren't living in the paradise, rather in limbo, and sometimes they were unexpectedly shot for unknown reasons, because also the limbo had its rules.

And pretty soon Benny found out that the paradise was just a stage to hell, nobody could remain in the cards for too long, for each one the bell was ringing and the turn was coming to be tortured, disfigured, then killed. Hell and paradise mocking each other, playing a common black farce, for what was life other than a black farce?

The movie stirred extremely controversial reactions in Mexico, for obvious reasons. As the whole movie had not been enough, by the end Benny was shown coming to the Mexican Bicentennial celebration and killing everybody from the official tribune (Don Reyes surrounded by all authorities of the village). Thus many protested against El Infierno saying it was profoundly unjust and unfair to depict their country as a grotesque caricature. Luis Estrada (director, writer and producer) defended his movie, saying that, firstly, a caricature was just a caricature, secondly, a caricature was a very legitimate artistic approach, like all other legitimate artistic approaches, thirdly, he agreed that obviously not all Mexican society was made of drug dealers and corrupt politicians, while this Mexican society had to be aware about the serious problem of having so much criminality and corruption in their country, all these leading to the conclusion that a grotesque caricature was sometimes necessary for its cathartic effect.

I'm just wondering how would I react against a movie depicting in this way my own country. Honestly I wouldn't take it easy at all, but my reaction against it would prove the power of the message. An artist has the duty to say the truth he believes in, with all risks, even with the risk of stirring ardent passions against him. Luis Estrada is politically intense and his movies cannot be but politically intense. His extreme sarcasm calls in mind the movies of Berlanga, and generally the Spanish and Hispanic-American movies are often very tough.

I would add to all this that the value of a movie cannot stand only in what it speaks to its country; it should go beyond and transmit something universal. I think this is the case with El Infierno. It's the drama of returning to your home after many years and realizing that for everybody there you look like an ostrich joke, because that's what you are. It's the tragedy of having illusions till you realize that your life is just a black farce. It's a parable saying that our whole world became a hell in all respects.

El Infierno, 2010 - trailer
(video by elinfiernopelicula)

Kudos for the interpret of Benny (Damián Alcázar), a great actor succeeding in the impossible task of depicting credibly such a contradictory man. Perfectly natural as a profoundly nice guy, perfectly natural as a very effective killer. I'd mention here also Joaquin Cosio, Ernesto Gómez Cruz, Salvador Sánchez, all of them playing also in the other movies of Luis Estrada, but all the cast was very good. And a special accolade to Elisabeth Cervantes, the interpret of Guadelupe.

Por mi madre yo soy Mexicano,
Por destino soy Americano.
Yo soy de la raza de oro.
Yo soy México Americano

Yo te comprendo el inglés,
También te hablo en castellano.
Yo soy de la raza noble.
Yo soy México Americano

Zacatecas a Minnesota,
De Tijuana a Nueva York.
Dos países son mi tierra,
Los defiendo con honor

Dos idiomas y dos países,
Dos culturas tengo yo.
En mi suerte tengo orgullo,
Porque así lo manda Dios

Por mi madre yo soy Mexicano,
Por destino soy Americano.
Yo soy de la raza de oro.
Yo soy México Americano

(Luis Estrada)



Post a Comment

<< Home