Creación del primer cine club mexicano

Experimental Cinema fue una revista norteamericana de avanzada creada para contraatacar las tendencias de la industria cinematográfica capitalista. Entre sus colaboradores estaban Sergei Eisenstein, Bela Balazs, Pudovkin, Dovzhenko, Carl Dreyer,  Alberto Cavalcanti, Man Ray, Marc Allegret, Pabst, Jean Epstein, Rene Claire, Lubitsch, Griffith, Stroheim, Vidor, Seastrom, Chaplin, Flaherty, Sternberg y Luis Buñuel por mencionar algunos.

En el número 4 de Experimental Cinema de febrero de 1933 (pag. 34) se publicó el primer boletín del cine club mexicano, fechado en junio de 1931. Resulta sumamente interesante constatar que los miembros fundadores eran connotados intelectuales mexicanos de la época y sus ideas y conceptos sobre lo que el cine debía de aportar a la sociedad son válidas aún hoy en día. A continuación el boletín:

Experimental Cinema No. 4 de febrero de 1931
Experimental Cinema No. 4 de febrero de 1933

Bulletin No. 1 of the Mexican Cine Club

The Cine Club of Mexico has been organized and affiliated with the Film Society of London and with the League of Cine Clubs of Paris. Its program is the same as that of the cine clubs throughout the world, but it is especially akin to the Spanish Cine Club which has achieved great success in the two years of its existence.

The essential points of its program are:

  1. To procure the showing of good European, American and Asiatic vanguard films.
  2. To establish the educational cinema, with special attention to the systematic showing of scientific films.
  3. To study the History of the Cinema by means of film-exhibits dealing with the cinema in retrospect.
  4. To hold lectures on the esthetic, scientific and social importance of cinematography.
  5. To create a favorable atmosphere out of which a Mexican cinema art may emerge.

The Mexican Cine Club will follow the plan of the successful foreign cine clubs in linking its activities with a conscientious study of our necessities. Its purpose is highly social and not lucrative.

The Executive Committee of the Cine Club is comprised of the following:

  • Art Director: Bernardo Ortiz de Montellano.
  • Technical Director: Emilio Amero.
  • Secretaries of Finance: Manuel Álvarez Bravo and María Izquierdo.
  • Secretary of Propaganda: Carlos Mérida.
  • Directors: María M. [sic] de Álvarez Bravo and Roberto Montenegro.
  • General Secretary: Agustín Aragón Leiva.

The organizers of the Cine Club are among the most serious-minded writers, artists, journalists and critics in Mexico, who have been able to see that our environment is a sufficiently cultured and mature to make possible the existence of a Cine Club whose prime mission is to give the cinema the place which it deserves as a powerful vehicle of culture.

In order to make known the circumstances which have determined the creation of the Cine Club and to point out the details of its program, these organizers will shortly circulate a manifesto calling for general active cooperation in the establishment and functioning of the Mexican Cine Club.

Miguel Contreras Torres, Esperanza Iris y El Gallo (1923)

La fotografía fue tomada en Veracruz y se publicó en Cine-Mundial de enero de 1923 (Vol. VIII, No. 1, p. 31). En ella aparecen tres figuras públicas mexicanas de los años 20 del siglo pasado: el director y actor Miguel Contreras Torres, la actriz de opereta Esperanza Iris y El Gallo, maestro del toreo.

Cine-Mundial de enero de 1923 (Vol. VIII, No. 1, p. 31)
Cine-Mundial de enero de 1923 (Vol. VIII, No. 1, p. 31)

A Mexican Legend (1910)

A Mexican Legend de la casa Pathé tuvo poca promoción. Tres revistas cinematográficas dieron cuenta de ella: The Nickelodeon del 1 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. IV. No. 9, p. 257), The Moving Picture World del 12 de noviembre (Vol. VII, No. 20, p. 1127) y The Film Index del 12 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 20, p. 20), pero publicaron la misma sinopsis donde es obvio que la compañía productora envío la información a todos los periódicos y revistas especializados.

The Film Index del 12 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 20, p. 20)
The Film Index del 12 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 20, p. 20)

A MEXICAN LEGEND (Pathé). It is noon at the old monastery of Vejas, which is situated in the heart of the wild country in northern Mexico and twelve miles from any habitation. The monks are returning from their labors in the garden to chapel. A band of Indians creep up through the long pampas grass, and as the monks come out from prayer, fall upon them and capture them. The aged Father Ignatius is dragged to the burial place and the heavy stone of a vault having been removed is dropped inside, the stone lid being replaced. The others are imprisoned in the chapel while the Indians sack the monastery and make merry with the Fathers’ well stocked cellar. The aged Father prays before a painting of Christ that is in the vault, and the figure comes to life, and leads him out of his living tomb. Father Ignatius sees the marauders dancing and debauching, and plods on his weary way to obtain assistance. He has to cross a river and Christ appears and directs him to a floating island on which he is quickly borne to the other side. Weary and weak, he endeavors to climb the mountain path, but his strength gives out and he falls exhausted. Again Christ appears, takes him by the hand and leads him over the mountain. Finally he reaches his destination, a hacienda. He tells his story and the Mexican boys are soon in their saddles and on their way to the monastery it is but the work of a few minutes to put the Indians to rout and release the imprisoned monks. Reverently they all turn and fall on their knees and give thanks to Him who gave the holy Father strength to obtain the help that was so badly needed.—1,033 feet. Released November 9.

The Film Index del 12 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 20, p. 20)
The Film Index del 12 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 20, p. 20)

Afortunadamente, The Film Index incluyó un par de fotogramas para acompañar la sinopsis. También la misma revista, pero en el ejemplar del 5 de noviembre publicó lo siguiente sobre la cinta:

The Mexican legend is founded upon a story of a colony of monks which was attacked by Indians, the abbe being brutally mistreated and cast alive into a stone tomb while the rest of the monks are held for torture. The tomb in which the abbe was cast chanced to be an entrance to a underground shrine where a figure of Christ had been painted in a niche cut in the living rock. The legend has it that this figure came to life and lead the abbe to a distant ranch house where aid was secured and the Indians are properly punished. The picture closes with a beautiful transformation scene of religious significance. The art of the picture maker is in evidence throughout this subject.

The Film Index del 5 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 19, p. 45)
The Film Index del 5 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 19, p. 45)

The Moving Picture World del 26 de noviembre (Vol. VII, No. 22, p. 1236) publicó una serie de comentarios donde descalifica la cinta por considerar que agrede la religión católica y aún sabiendo que las iglesias en México eran atacadas por indios, esto no justifica que se reproduzca en una película.

The Film Index del 5 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 19, 2a. forros)
The Film Index del 5 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 19, 2a. forros)

A Mexican Legend (Pathé).—Picturesque settings do much to rescue this film from oblivion. To see a figure purporting to be Christ appear three or four times is taking liberties with the most sacred tenets of a very large proportion of the people. The mixture of marauding and more or less drunken Indians is incongruous and unpleasant. Perhaps Indians did raid monasteries in Mexico, but even if they did there is no excuse for reproducing one of these raids in motion pictures. Scenically the film is attractive. Otherwise it is, well, another of the usual thing.

Homenaje a Gustavo García (1954-2013)

Homenaje a Gustavo García

The Gun Smugglers (1912)

The Gun Smugglers filmada en 1912 por la Kalem tiene varios detalles curiosos, pues se vendió como una historia que sucede en la revolución mexicana y como un incidente acaecido en Cuba. Por otro lado, uno de los protagonistas, Carl Rhys Pryce, quien fuera oficial militar al servicio de los hermanos Flores Magón durante la toma de Tijuana en 1911, interpreta a Steven Jarrow, el contrabandista, en esta cinta.

The Moving Picture World del 8 de junio de 1912 (Vol. XII, No. 10, p. 950) publicó la siguiente sinopsis de la cinta:

THE GUN SMUGGLERS (June 12).—Steven Jarrow, engaged in smuggling arms across the border, keeps the secret from his son, Logan. Valdez, the Mexican colonel, in charge of the Federal troops stationed there, has a very pretty daughter, with whom Logan is deeply in love. A gun smuggling expedition is planned. Federal headquarters receive warning and Colonel Valdez determines to annihilate the smugglers. During the action Logan’s father is killed and it devolves upon Col. Valdez to convey the sad news to Logan. The young man, not knowing of his father’s career, and believing his death was caused by unfair means, swears vengeance against his sweetheart’s father. However, he is saved from becoming a murderer by the cool-headedness of the brave colonel. John Bridge, one of the smugglers who managed to escape, is crazed by the death of his comrades and seeks to avenge them by taking the life of Colonel Valdez. Logan is arrested for the crime, but is cleared through the instrumentalitv of Bridge’s wife.

The Moving Picture World del 1 de junio de 1912 (Vol. XII, No. 9, p. 802)
The Gun Smugglers, A Page of Recent Mexican Hionstory. This episode of the Mexican insurrection is based on an actual experinece of General C. Rhys Pryce, who portays a leading part in the photoplay. The Moving Picture World del 1 de junio de 1912 (Vol. XII, No. 9, p. 802)

En The New York Dramatic Mirror del 19 de junio de 1912 se publicó la siguiente nota sobre la película:

The Gun Smugglers (Kalem, June 12).–There are many strong, dramatic possibilities in this film, because the main situation is a particularly acute one but the producer has rather lost out on the dramatic end at least by not giving the story proper dramatic treatment either development or acting. The film, however, has its exciting moments in the struggle between the Mexican troops and the smugglers, and the producer has selected some very fine background in which to tell his story. The father, unknown to his son, is a gun smuggler. The son is in love with the colonel’s daughter who, when he receives notice of the work of the smugglers, sets out to capture them. In the ensuing fight, the young man’s father is killed. At the prison he is informed by his father’s accomplice that the colonel has killed his father. He determines upon revenge. One of the smugglers who has escaped is determined upon a like revenge. The young man appears before the colonel before the other, is overcome, and dissuaded from his purpose. After he leaves the smuggler arrives, and kills the colonel. The young man is blamed for the crime, though it is not altogether clear just how the evidence is placed upon him from the way the story is told. The wife of the murderer appears before the authorities and confesses the truth of her husband’s crime, and thus frees the young man.

The Moving Picture World del 29 de junio de 1912 (Vol. XII, No. 13, p. 1226):

“THE GUN SMUGGLERS” (Kalem), June 12.—In this drama of the Mexican rebellion, there is a good plot and some lively skirmishing. Carlyle Blackwell takes the leading part. His work and that of the leading characters is well done. Notable among others are the crazed smuggler and his wife and the Mexican colonel.

Resulta extraño que la revista mensual The Motion Picture Story Magazine publica un anuncio de la Kalem donde The Gun Smugglers se anuncia como una aventura que sucede en Cuba en lugar de México. ¿A qué se debe este cambio? ¿Hubo algún elemento político para ello? De haberlo, ¿fue del gobierno federal norteamericano o quejas del sistema consular mexicano? Hago estas preguntas, porque no hay duda que es la misma película, dada la fecha de estreno: 12 de junio de 1912. También puede suceder que fue un error de los publicistas de la Kalem, pues no dudo que para muchos de ellos Cuba y México eran lo mismo: Sudamérica.

The Motion Picture Story Magazine de julio de 1912 (Vol. III, p. 141)
The Motion Picture Story Magazine de julio de 1912 (Vol. III, p. 141)

En La mirada circular, Margarita de Orellana nos comenta que:

En Los contrabandistas de armas (1912), los rebeldes, en esa ocasión antimaderistas, eran vistos como criminales desprovistos de sentimientos patrióticos. El héroe del filme es un coronel del nuevo gobierno mexicano, maderista, que atrapa a unos contrabandistas y entre ellos al jefe, un norteamericano ávido de dinero y que muere en la contienda. El hijo del jefe ignoraba los negocios de su padre y considerando que su muerte es injusta decide vengarse del coronel maderista, quien a su vez es asesinado por otro de los contrabandistas. El hijo es inculpado por esta muerte pero finalmente la esposa del verdadero asesino aclara su inocencia. En estas películas, siguiendo el maniqueísmo moral que era habitual en el cine de la época, el contrabando cambió de bando y se volvió injustificado. Hay dos muertes en esta historia: una deseada, la del contrabandista, otra injustificada por tratarse del héroe que cumplía con su deber asegurando del orden en la frontera. (p. 147)

También en La mirada circular, la autora nos da una breve sinopsis de la cinta basada en la que publicó The Moving Picture World:

Steven Jarrow es un contrabandista de armas para México. Nunca ha dicho a su hijo Logan cuál es su verdadera profesión. Valdez, el coronel federal mexicano cuyas tropas se encuentran en la frontera, tiene una hija muy bella de la cual Logan está enamorado. Jarrow organiza una expedición de armas pero los federales se enteran a tiempo. Durante la acción Jarrow es asesinado por los federales y Valdez comunica la noticia a su hijo. Logan jura vengar la muerte de su padre, pero la sangre fría de Valdez salva a Logan de convertirse en asesino. Uno de los contrabandistas de Jarrow se ha vuelto loco por la matanza de sus compañeros y asesina a Valdez. Logan es acusado del crimen, pero lo salva el testimonio de la esposa del verdadero asesino. (p. 184)

Los investigadores de la Universidad de Stanford, quienes después de haber visto la película — la copia que pertenece a la Library of Congress en 35 mm. está bastante deteriorada — llegan a la siguiente conclusión en The Alice Joyce Website:

Subtitled: “An incident of the Mexican Rebellion.” Much of this film suffers from very heavy deterioration, making it nearly unwatchable in parts. At least one crucial scene is missing. This contributes to the confusion in the plot, since it is now not apparent that the mysterious man in the cabin kills Colonel Valdez, and accounts for Joyce’s apparently inexplicable sadness at the end of the film when reunited with her lover. The handsome Carlyle Blackwell plays the lead. Joyce looks picturesque in her dark frilly gown, with her hair down and a flower in it.