"Certainly they will never be obliged to read history again."
How has the popular cinema industry portrayed Latin American History? What can we learn from these depictions? In this class we will watch and analyze feature films from the United States and Latin America which grapple with various events and issues in Latin America. Through these films, we will both critically analyze historical developments in Latin America as well as the assumptions and ideological perspectives which go into the making of a film on Latin America. Through this process, we will develop a deeper appreciation for the complexities which embody Latin American and the problems which the region faces.
Our goal in this class is to challenge existing assumptions, engage alternative viewpoints, and encourage critical thinking. Through the study of history, we seek to empower ourselves to be better citizens, and to provide ourselves with the skills necessary to play a positive and educated role in society. We need to be active constituents rather than mere recipients of our education. To accomplish those tasks, we should strive to create an open and supportive learning environment. Regular attendance and active participation are also necessary. Please drop me a note if you are unable to attend, or if you have any concerns or suggestions for improving the class.
There are three texts for the class. The primary text is the films we will watch on Latin American history. Two additional books will help us critically dissect these films:
Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America, 2d ed. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN: 0-393-92769-5
Stevens, Donald Fithian, ed. Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies. Latin-American silhouettes. Wilmington, Del: SR Books, 1997. ISBN: 0-8420-2781-5
For each class period we will read a chapter in the Chasteen book that talks very broadly about the themes that the film discusses, as well as an essay (from Stevens' edited collection or elsewhere) that specifically critiques the film under consideration. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on intelligent discussions of the films in class.
Assignments and grades
Course grades will be based on the following assignments:
Consider questions such as these in preparing for your presentation:
To assist in the class discussion of the film, bring to class:
Jan 15 Introduction
Jan 22 Ancient Civilizations
Jan 29 Columbus
Feb 5 Conquest
Feb 12 Women
Feb 19 Slavery
Feb 26 Indigenous peoples
March 4 Patriarchy
March 18 Slave resistance
March 25 Progress
April 1 Neocolonialism
April 8 Nationalism
April 15 Revolution
April 22 Reaction
April 29 Neoliberalism
May 9 Final Presentations
This is a basic bibliography of sources on Latin American Cinema which are available in the library. Many more items are also available in Siegmund's bibliography (http://www.libs.uga.edu/lais/laisno7.html). Sometimes the Internet Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com/) includes useful information. The Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture (Ref F1406 .E53 1996) and the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Cultures (Ref F1406 .E515 2000) include good background information on the topics discussed in the films we will watch in class. Use Latin American-specific databases such as the following to search for more information on your film and the historical events depicted in it.
Barnard, Tim and Peter Rist, eds. South American Cinema: A Critical Filmography, 1915-1994. New York: Garland Pub, 1996. (PN1993.5.S63 S68 1996)
Burns, E. Bradford. Latin American Cinema Film and History. UCLA Latin American Studies ; V. 26: Latin American Studies (University of California, Los Angeles. Latin American Center), v. 26. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center, University of California, 1975. (PN1993.5 L3 B8)
Buscombe, Edward. Cinema Today. London: Phaidon, 2003. (PN1993.5.A1 B88 2003)
Carnes, Mark C. Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies. New York: H. Holt, 1996. (PN1995.9.H5 P37 1996)
Chanan, Michael. Cuban Cinema. Cultural Studies of the Americas Series, Volume 14. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004.
Elena, Alberto and Marina Díaz López. The Cinema of Latin America. 24 frames. London, New York: Wallflower, 2003. (PN1993.5.L3 C56 2003)
Dennison, Stephanie and Lisa Shaw. Popular cinema in Brazil. Manchester, New York, New York: Manchester University Press. Distributed exclusively in the USA by Palgrave, 2004.
Film Review Annual. Englewood, NJ: J.S. Ozer, 1982. (Ref PN1995 F55)
Foster, David William. Contemporary Argentine Cinema. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1992. (PN1993.5 A7 F6 1992)
Foster, David William. Mexico City in Contemporary Mexican Cinema. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.
Hanson, Patricia King, Stephen L Hanson, and Julia Johnson. Film Review Index. Phoenix, Ariz: Oryx Press, 1986-1987. (Ref PN1995 .F5 1986)
Hershfield, Joanne and David Maciel, eds. Mexico's Cinema: A Century of Film and Filmmakers. Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources, 1999. (PN1993.5.M4 M465 1999)
Johnson, Randal and Robert Stam. Brazilian Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. (PN1993.5 B6 B7 1995)
Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994. (Ref PN1993.45 .K34 1994)
King, John. "Latin American Cinema." In The Cambridge History of Latin America, V. 10. Latin America Since 1930, Ideas, Culture, and Society. Leslie Bethell, ed., 455-518. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. (F 1410 .C183 1984)
Lyon, Christopher, Susan Doll, and James Vinson. The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. Chicago: St. James Press, 1984-1987. (Ref PN1997.8 I58)
Magill, Frank Northen. Magill's Survey of Cinema, Foreign Language Films. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Salem Press, 1985. (Ref PN1995.9.F67 M34 1985)
Magill, Frank Northen, Patricia King Hanson, and Stephen L Hanson. Magill's Survey of Cinema--English Language Films, First Series. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Salem Press, 1980. (Ref PN1993.45 .M30
Magill, Frank Northen, Patricia King Hanson, and Stephen L Hanson. Magill's Survey of Cinema--English Language Films, Second Series. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Salem Press, 1981. (Ref PN1993.45 .M32)
Manvell, Roger. The International Encyclopedia of Film. New York: Crown Publishers, 1972. (PN1993.45 .I5 1972)
Nagib, Lúcia, ed. The New Brazilian cinema. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. (PN1993.5.B6 N45 2003)
The New York Times Film Reviews, 1969-1970-- . New York: The New York Times, 1971-. (Ref PN1995 .N4)
Noriega, Chon A. Visible Nations: Latin American Cinema and Video. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. (Mobius)
Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. The Oxford History of World Cinema. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. (PN1993.5.A1 O96 1995)
Paranaguá, Paulo Antonio and others. Mexican Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 1995. (PN1993.5.M4 C4913 1995)
Rosenstone, Robert A. Revisioning History: Film and the Construction of a New Past. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1995. (PN1995.2 .R48 1995)
Ryan, Jack. John Sayles, Filmmaker. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1998. (Mobius)
Siegmund Marianne. "Film in Latin America: A Selective Bibliography, 1999." SALALM, Latin American Information series, no. 7. http://www.libs.uga.edu/lais/laisno7.html. 1999.
Shaw, Deborah. Contemporary Cinema of Latin America: Ten Key Films. New York: Continuum, 2003. (PN1993.5.L3 S53 2003)
Shaw, Deborah. Contemporary Latin American Cinema: Breaking into the global market. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.
Shaw, Lisa. Latin American cinema: essays on modernity, gender and national identity. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co., 2005.
Stam, Robert. Tropical Multiculturalism: A comparative history of race in Brazilian cinema and culture. Durham N.C., London: Duke University Press, 1997. (PN1993.5.B6 S7 1997)
Toplin, Robert Brent, ed. Oliver Stone's USA: Film, History, and Controversy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000. (PN1998.3.S76 O45 2000)
Tenenbaum, Barbara A and Georgette M Dorn, eds. Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. 5 vol. New York, London: C. Scribner's Sons. Simon & Schuster. Prentice Hall International, 1996. (Ref F1406 .E53 1996)
Variety Film Reviews, 1907-1980. New York: Garland Pub, 1983-1985. (Ref PN1995 .V34 1983)
Wu, Harmony H. "Consuming Tacos and Enchiladas: Gender and the Nation in Como Agua Para Chocolate." In Visible Nations: Latin American Cinema and Video, ed. Chon A. Noriega, 174-92. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. (Mobius)
This is a select list of feature length films on Latin America. Films included in the syllabus are starred (*), and films critiqued in Stevens' edited book have a hatch mark (#). Films in the Truman media library include call numbers.
* # 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992). The film chronicles the first two landmark voyages of Columbus and takes us to the brink of his third and last. (Video PN1995.9 H5 F68 1993; DVD E111 .F68 2002)
* # Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). A band of Spanish conquistadors, led by Aguirre, self -styled "Wrath of God," travel up the Amazon in search of gold, but Aguirre's megalomania turns the expedition into a death trip. (Video PN1995.9 .F6715 A354 1991; DVD PN1995.9.F6715 A354 2000)
The Alamo (1960). Battle at the Alamo. (PN1995.9.T47 A43 1995) There is also a 2004 remake featuring Billy Bob Thorntonas Davy Crockett.
Amores perros (2001). Three different people (young punk, supermodel,ex-radical turned hit man) and their dogs are catapulted into dramatic and unforseen circumstances in the wake of a terrible car crash. (DVD PN1995.9.F6718 A55 2001)
* And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2004). The story of how Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa allowed a Hollywood crew (D.W. Griffin and Harry Aiken sent Frank Thayer) to film him in battle, altering the course of film and military history in the process. (DVD F1234.V63 A63 2004)
* Apocalypto (2006). Mel Gibson on the Maya. (DVD PN1995.9.F671646 A66335 2007)
At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1992). Missionaries try to contact and convert a group of Indians in the Brazilian rainforest.
Bananas (1971). Woody Allen as a fictitious castro-esque revolutionary. (DVD PN1995.9.C55 B354 2000).
Blood In, Blood Out (1993). Gang wars in California prisons in the 1980s pits Chicanos against African-Americans and whites.
Blood of the Condor = Yawar Mallku (1969). A dramatization of an actual incident which involved charges of sterilization of Quechuan Indian women without their consent as part of a birth control program administered by the United States Peace Corps.
Blow (2001). Story of George Jung who becomes the leading cocaine smuggler in the 1970s. (DVD PN1995.9.D78 B56 2001)
La Boca Del Lobo = The Lion's Den (1988). A study of a bloody encounter between the Peruvian Army and the Maoist Shining Path in Chuspi, a small isolated village in the Andes. (Video PN1995.9 F6718 B63 1990)
Born in East L.A (1987). Cheech Marin is accidentally deported to Mexico without I.D. or knowledge of Spanish, and can't convince U.S. officials to let him back in. (PN1995.9.C55 B67 1988)
The Burning Season: the Chico Mendes Story (1994). About environmental and labor struggles to save the Amazonian rainforest. (Video SD411.52.M46 B87 1995)
Cabeza de Vaca (1990). Account of the Spanish explorer's capture, escape, and journey from Texas to Mexico City (1527-1537). (Video E125.N9 C3 1993; DVD E125.N9 C3 2001)
* # Camila (1984). Recounts the true story of a young Catholic socialite from Buenos Aires who falls in love and runs away with a young Jesuit priest. (Video PN1995.9.F6718 C25 1995; DVD PN1995.9.F6718 C25 2002)
Central Station = Central do Brasil (1998). An emotive journey of a former school teacher, who writes letters for illiterate people at Rio de Janeiro's central station, Central do Brasil; and a young boy, whose mother has just died in a car accident, to Brazil's remote Northeast, in search for the father he never knew. (PN1995.9.F67169 C45 1999)
Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992). Depicts Columbus' first trans-Atlantic voyage as an epic and heroic adventure.
* Cidade de Deus = City of God (2002). Drugs and violence in a Rio de Janeiro favela. (DVD PN1995.9.F67169 C53 2003)
La Ciudad y Los Perros = The City and the Dogs (1985). A rather vicious portrayal of life in the Colegio Militar de Lima. (Video PQ8498.32 A65 C5 1987; DVD PQ8498.32.A65 C53 1994)
Clear and Present Danger (1994). CIA deputy intelligence director Jack Ryan discovers an illegal US government plot which lands soldiers in Colombia. (Video PN1995.9.A3 C52 1994)
# Como Agua Para Chocolate = Like Water for Chocolate (1992). Food and sexual passion during the Mexican Revolution. (Video PN1995.9 .F6718 C65 1994; DVD PN1995.9.F6718 C65 2000)
Como Era Gostoso o Meu Frances = How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman (1971). In the coastal wilds of 16th-century Brazil, a French soldier is captured by a tribe of people-eating Indians. (Video F2230.2.T84 C6 1995)
Coraje del Pueblo, El ( Courage of the People, The ) (1971). Re-enactment of a miner's strike in Bolivia. (F2230.1.S68 C68 1990)
Courage = Coraje (1998). A true story based on the last months in the life of Maria Elena Moyano, a leader of a women's organization in a slum outside of Lima who was killed by the Shining Path for her resistance. (Video HQ1236.P47 C68 1998)
The Crime of Padre Amaro = El crimen del padre Amaro (2002). Based on a nineteenth-century Mexican novel and redone in a contemporary setting, touches on issues of corruption and morality within the Catholic Church. (DVD PN1995.9.F6718 C75 2003)
The Dancer Upstairs (2002). Depiction of capture of Peru's Shining Path guerrilla leader Abimael Guzmán in 1992.
Death and the Maiden (1995). Fictional story of a former prisoner who meets her torturer after the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.
Desperado (1995). A remake of El Mariachi. (DVD PN1995.9.F6718 M373 1998)
The Emerald Forest (1985). Bill Markham, an engineer, returns to the Amazon year after year searching for his son who had disappeared into the jungle. After ten years of searching, Markham finds the man that had once been his boy, but now is a warrior from a different world.
Entre Marx y Una Mujer Desnuda (1995). A young writer in Ecuador is torn between an impossible love and the love for his country, in the midst of a dictatorship and the rebellion of the insignificant Communist party. (Video PN56.W3 E57 1996; DVD PN56.W3 E57 2004)
Evita (1997). Madonna stars as Eva Peron, who rose above childhood poverty and a scandalous past to achieve fortune and fame. (Video F2849.P37 E9 1997; DVD F2849.P37 E9 1998)
Fidel (2001). Showtime biography of Fidel Castro's rise to power in Cuba.
Fitzcarraldo (1982). Story of a man obsessed with the ambition to make his fortune and build his own personal opera house in the jungle. (PN1995.9 F6715 F57 1983; DVD PN1995.9.F6715 F58 1999)
Four Days in September (1998). Guerrillas kidnap the U.S. ambassador in Brazil in September 1969 to obtain the freeing of political prisoners. (PN1995.9.F67169 F68 1998)
Fresa y Chocolate = Strawberry & Chocolate.(1993). A naive young Cuban college student meets both a writer and a woman who teach him about the passion of life and the passion of love. (PN1995.9.F6718 F74 1995; DVD PN1995.9.F6718 F74 2003)
* Frida (2002). The life of artist Frida Kahlo, from her humble upbringing to her worldwide fame and controversy that surrounded both her and her husband, Diego Rivera. (DVD ND259.K33 F73 2004)
# Gabriela (1983). Set in Brazil, story of a middle-aged bar owner whose passionate romance with young Gabriela sends sparks flying in a town where sex and politics are the main diversions.
Guantanamera (1995). In a satirical look at the Cuban economic crisis, an undertaker proposes a plan to save gas coupons by pooling the resources of the funeral parlors across the island. (Video PN1995.9.F6718 G8 1998; DVD PN1995.9.F6718 G8 2000)
The House of the Spirits (1993). Based on Isabel Allende's novel, examines political, social, and economic changes in Chile. (Video PQ8098.1 L54 C323 1993; DVD PQ8098.1.L54 C323 2001)
* # I, the Worst of All = Yo, la peor de todas (1990). This historical drama tells the story of Juana Ines de la Cruz, one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Siglo de Oro who enters a convent in order to pursue her passion for writing. (Video PQ7296.J6 Z982 1990; DVD PN1995.9.F6718 Y63 2003)
IA-- Kuba = I Am Cuba (1964). Four main stories show the rise of the Communist revolution in Cuba, including Batista's Havana and the grinding poverty and oppression of the Cuban people. In Russian, Spanish, and English. (Video PN1995.9 F6718 I22 1995; DVD PN1995.9.F6718 .Y22 1999)
In the Time of the Butterflies (2001). Inspired by the story of three Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow General Trujillo's dictatorship in the Dominican Republic.
Juarez (1939). Benito Juarez's fight against the French occupation of Mexico. (Video PN1997 .J783 1987)
Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985). A political prisoner and a gay man share a prison cell in an unnamed Latin American dictatorship. (PQ7798.26.U4 B41323 1995)
* # The Last Supper = La Ultima Cena (1977). A Cuban slaveowner decides to instruct his slaves in the tenets of Christianity by inviting twelve of them to a reenactment of the Last Supper. (Video PN1995.9.F6718 L3 1988)
Latino (1985). A Chicano Green Beret begins to question the morality of the secret war he is fighting in the jungles of Nicaragua.
# Lucía (1968). Follows the lives of three different women named Lucía during three different revolutionary periods of Cuba's history, the Cuban War of Independence in 1895, the Machado era in the 1930's, and post-revolutionary Cuba of the 1960's. (Video PN1995.9.F6718 L83 1990Z)
El Mariachi (1993). A mariachi player in Mexico is mistaken for a gangster. (Video PN1995.9 F6718 M373 1993)
Maria Full of Grace (2004). The story of a drug mule. (DVD PN1995.9.F6718 M3723 2004)
Memorias del Subdesarrollo = Inconsolable Memories. Memories of Underdevelopment (1968). A study of Cuban society before and after the revolution as seen through the eyes of a man who is a landlord and self-styled writer. (Video PN1995.9 F6718 M44 1980Z)
Men With Guns (1997). John Sayles on villagers caught between guerrilla and military violence in a struggle for survival. (Video PN1995.9.F6718 M45 1998; DVD PN1995.9.F6718 M45 2003)
Mexico in Flames (1982). A chronicle of the Russian and Mexican revolutions in the early 20th century.
# Miss Mary (1986). Set in 1930s Bueno Aires, this is the story of a cultured English governess whose display of compassion disrupts the tradition-bound existence of the wealthy household in which she works.
Missing (1982). True story of the execution of Charles Horman after the 1973 military coup in Chile. (Video PN1995.9.P6 M57 1987; DVD PN1995.9.P6 M57 2004)
* # The Mission (1986). Jesuit stuggle to protect Guaraní Indians in Paraguay in the 1750s. (Video PN1995.9 A3 M57 1991; DVD PN1995.9.A3 M57 1986)
The Mosquito Coast (1986). Angered by the decline of American society, a brilliant inventor leads his family into the remote Central American jungles to carve out a new society. (PS3570.H4 M6 1999)
* The Motorcycle Diaries (2004). Adventures of the future guerrilla leader Ernesto Che Guevara as he crosses South America by motorcycle in the early 1950s. (DVD F2224 .G783 2005)
El Norte = The North (1983). A drama about a Guatemalan brother and sister seeking better lives in the United States. (Video PN1995.9.F6718 N67 2002)
# The Official Story (1985). In the mid-70's, Argentina's military dictatorship carried out a brutal campaign of torture and murder against thousands of its own citizens. This is the story of the sheltered wife of a wealthy businessman who comes to face the legacy of that terror. (Video PN1995.9 F6718 H57 1995; DVD PN1995.9.F6718 H57 1998)
* Los Olvidados (1950). Luis Bunuel's study of street gangs set in the outskirts of Mexico City; a good boy is contaminated by young thugs in the slums, and both he and his tormentor die violently. (Video PN1995.9 F6718 O49 1993)
# The Other Francisco/Otro Francisco, El (1975). About slavery in Cuba; Truman's copy lacks English subtitles. (Video PQ7296.J6 Z982 1990)
La otra conquista/The other conquest (2002). The story of Mexico in the decade after the conquest by Spain in 1520.
# Pixote (1981). Depicts brutality of street childen in Brazil. (Video PN1995.9.F67169 P58 1997; DVD PN1995.9.F67169 P58 2001)
Rodrigo D: No Futuro (1991). A shocking portrayal of the reckless existence of youths in Medellín, Colombia, one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America.
* Romero (1989). True story of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador in 1980. (Video BX4705.R669 R64 1990; DVD BX4705.R669 R64 2000)
Salvador (1986). Oliver Stone critiques the violence of a civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s through the eyes of a journalist. (PN1995.9.J6 S35 2000; DVD PN1995.9.J6 S35 2001)
Scarface (1983). A Cuban exile of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift emerges as the leader of a Miami mob that traffics in cocaine. (DVD PN1995.9.G3 S33 2003)
El Silencio De Neto = The Silence of Neto (1994). Discusses the 1954 coup in Guatemala from the point of view of a young boy. (Video PN1995.9.F6718 S545 1998)
State of Siege (1973). Costa Gavras' controversial film about an American technical expert in police procedures who the Tupamaro guerrillas abduct and assassinate in Uruguay in 1970.
Thirteen Days (2001). About the Cuban Missile Crisis. (DVD E841 .T45 2001)
Traffic (2000). About corruption and drug trafficking in Mexico. (Video PN1995.9.D78 T73 2001; DVD PN1995.9.D78 T73 2002)
Y tu mamá también (2002). Two teens set off on a wild cross-country trip with seductive, 28-year-old Luisa.
Under Fire (1983). A photo-journalist helps the Sandinistas overthrow Somoza in Nicaragua. (Video PN1995.9.W3 U53 1993)
Viva Villa! (1934). Story of Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution. (Video F1234.V75 V58 1993)
Viva Zapata! (1952). Marlon Brando stars as Emiliano Zapata in the Mexican Revolution.
Walker (1988). The story of a soldier of fortune from the U.S. who declared himself president of Nicaragua in 1855.
* Xiça (1976). A diamond rush in the 1700s transformed Brazil's interior into a place of wealth and excess. In this unrestrained atmosphere, the slave Xica used her iron will and her sexual talent to seduce her way into becoming the unofficial Empress of Brazil. (Video PN1995.9 F67169 X5 1993)