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Tlatelolco, Verano de 68

18 September 2018

My review, for the Internet Movie Database:

 

Although there are the improbables (the same five secret policemen, etc.) and the unlikely Romeo and Juliet story line, as a Mexican historian (not a film critic) I was struck by how much work went into the historicity of this film.

I found Juan Carlos Colombo, as the elderly general, to be an extremely “true to life” character. Old revolutionaries were sympathetic to the student movement (which — for those not familiar with Mexican history — was like similar movements in Czechoslovakia and France at the same time, seeking to open the political system to reflect the social and economic progress the country had made. In Mexico’s case, expanding the gains of the 1910-20 revolution to those, like Felix (Cristian Vasquez) the provincial “Romeo” of the tale, whose families had benefited from material progress, but were still held back by the limited political system).

It’s nonsensical to say that, although improbable, a romance between Felix and Ana Maria wasn’t possible. While class consciousness was (and still is) a factor in Mexican relationships, young Mexican women (especially those from the elites) were not under nearly the parental control that the first reviewer seems to think. Cross-class romances are the staple of our popular entertainment anyway, and this was meant to be a pop version of a particularly painful moment in our history.

As to the history, while the roots of the student movement are slighted (and only incidentally do we hear of its growing popularity among the middle-class and workers), it is meticulously researched when it comes to the government’s reactions, and to the often overlooked concern the state had in preserving a facade of “peace” during the Summer Games. The interspersing of Olympic preparation footage, and both photographic and film records of the student protests (and the government crackdown) are particularly effective… especially considering that much of the documentary evidence was hidden from public view for 30+ years. Roberto Sosa’s chilling portrayal of President Díaz Ordaz, and Ricardo Kleinbaum as the oily “Secretary” (the still living … and thus unnamed…Luis Echiverría) are, to most of us, historically accurate portrayals of the men who ruled us not that long ago.

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