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Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez action figures?

24 June 2010

Yup… Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Igacio Allende and the rest of the gang are soon to grace your plastic comida feliz — a tie in to the release of White Knight Creative Productions Héroes Veraderos:  Independencia.

Producer Carlos Kuri claims that turning the historical figures into marketable products serves a higher purpose. More employment for Mexican cartoonists, for a start. And, while the story-line follows your usual lovable cartoon moppets, Héroes Veraderos:  Independencia,will not only give Mexican kids their own adventure heroes, it is — he claims — historically accurate (more or less… it is for kids).

I noticed that Vicente Guerrero is significantly “whiter” than he was (he was the son of a slave, and proud of it). As is José Maria Morelos y Pavon. This may be polemical, or it may just be the Disney-influenced cartoon style. I’d be interested to see if this is raised in Mexico by the critics when Héroes Veraderos: Independencia opens in September.

One thing that I’m happy to see, though, is that the 1810-24 Independence Wars are getting the fictional cinematic treatment. The 1910-20 Revolution has by no means been exhausted by the movies, but it has overwhelmed the wide screen when it comes to Mexican costume dramas — in large part because the Hollywood cowboy movie offered an obvious parallel, where the Independence struggle requires a huge outlay in costumes and sets. Still, it’s do-able, as in the 1996 Televisia telenovela, La antorcha encendida.

Antorcha was probably the best, and most complex, of television pioneer’s Ernesto Alzono‘s works.  Being a telenovela, of course, the central drama is a love story — Mariano Foncerrada searching to win the hand of Teresa de Muñiz, while foiling the plans of the villainous Don Pedro de Sota (who, inconveniently, is his dad… though, of course, he won’t find that out for about six and a half hours of the seven hours worth of thirty-minute episodes).   Of course, War and Peace just comes down to Natasha Rostova finding the right guy and  four-eyed geek Pierre unexpected blooming as a stud… and, oh yeah, Napoleón is in there somewhere.

The Mariano and Teresa story is entertaining, but what made Antorcha something of a masterpiece (and highly recommended as entertaining Mexican history) is not so much that Alzona and Televisa had the cooperation of both the Mexican Secretary of Defense and state governments, but that the Independence era was presented honestly for the most part.

Contempt for “indios” by criollos and vice-versa is dramatically presented and there’s no attempt to hide the massacres of non-combatants or cruelties of war, nor to smooth over the mixed and sometimes contradictory motives of the key figures.  And, although like any good telenovela, the families are the well to do, the social life of the late 18th and early 19th century, has been recreated with more than the usual consideration for historical veracity.

Here is a short clip, which — while not including any of the great battle scenes, gives some idea of why I think Antorcha is worth viewing again (you can watch it, nine or ten minutes at a time, on youtube — posted by Ilmiotorna — beginning with “La Antorcha Encendida resumen 1-a” followed by “… resumen 1-b”, “…resumen 1-c”, “… resumen 1-d”, “… resumen 2-a”, etc., etc., etc. — or buy it on DVD).

With discussions of the political and military tactics, an argument about “los indios” , proto-feminist Leona Vacarrio moving towards rebellion and acknowledgement of the confusing racial and class issues, this is a much more complex version of the Independence struggle, but — alas — not one suitable to plastic cups and tee-shirts.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 25 June 2010 8:03 am

    Wow… was Morelos a lucha libre wrestler before he became a priest? My goodness all these people ripped.

  2. 14 January 2012 12:35 pm

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