El cine estadounidense de guerra se gestó durante la Revolución Mexicana
La noticia, el entretenimiento, el espectáculo y la propaganda
Por Juan Manuel Aurrecoechea
Aunque los camarógrafos estadounidenses ya habían empleado el cinematógrafo para registrar varios conflictos bélicos en el Caribe o en Sudáfrica, fue en la Revolución Mexicana que desarrollaron la tecnología y las formas narrativas que emplearían muy pronto en la Primera Guerra Mundial y que establecerían un modelo de patrioterismo, ideologización y propaganda que se mantendría vigente por tanto tiempo que sólo se renovaría hasta la invasión de Vietnam.
El 29 de julio de 1914, Jay Darling publicó en el Des Moines Register and Dealer, el cartón editorial “Moviéndose al nuevo cuartel general” (Moving to New Headquarters). La caricatura describe cómo los corresponsales estadounidenses que atestiguaban la Revolución abandonaron el territorio mexicano atraídos por el estallido de la gran guerra europea. Como atinadamente afirma Aurelio de los…
Un par de fotografías donde se aprecia al director y actor Romaine Fielding con su staff de la Lubin Manufacturing Company en dos locaciones: Los Ángeles y Nuevo México. Destacan varios actores y técnicos de obvia ascendencia mexicana entre el personal fotografiado.
Extenso artículo publicado en la revista Motography el 4 de octubre de 1913 (Vol. X, No. 7, p. 254) sobre la Decena Trágica. No se trata de una cinta o película; es una serie de 45 fotos fijas que se pone a la venta por $15.00 y el artículo es una descripción de las fotografías que la integra. Se incluye el anuncio de página entera sobre este material, también publicado en Motography.
Interesting Mexican Views
One of the very interesting features listed for release in the near future will be a set of views of war scenes in Mexico, from photographs made on the spot, and secured by the Columbia Transparency Company, Lees building, Chicago, and put on the market at considerable expense. During the recent bombardment in Mexico City much havoc was wrought by the artillery, owing to the poor marksmanship of the Mexican soldiers and the volunteers within the citadel. The shooting was wild, high and low, and the shells seemed to explode in almost every location except those for which they were intended. Some close-up views of this destruction were obtained by the photographer, and are here reproduced on the slides. It is incredible to believe that gunners firing at a range of less than one mile could possibly effect the unnecessary destruction depicted in these views.
For instance, the battery on one of the streets protecting the citadel was attempting to silence a gun of the government forces placed about five blocks away. In line with the gun, but two or three blocks beyond the position of the enemy, was a very ancient church, a historic place, where Cortez stopped while on his retreat after the defeat administered by the Indians in the City of Mexico. This church is one which is pointed out with a deal of pride to the tourist on account of its age. It is not complimentary to the Mexican gunners to state that the tower and clock on top of this church were perforated by shells which should have fallen short of the stones of the foundation.
Another view is that of a clock which formerly topped a concrete tower in Bucareli street. The shells passing through this tower completely destroyed the stone and concrete work, although the steel angle iron of the structure remained erect, only allowing the chimes to fall over at right angles with their original position, completely ruined. A flower bed now occupies the spot where the clock formerly stood, and only the surrounding buildings, with their fronts torn out by bursting shells, remind one of the struggle of last February.
Many scenes are depicted in the slides which will prove interesting from an historical point of view. The views of the National Palace of Mexico, where the first charge was made, the Castle of Chapultepec, the home of the presidents of that country, which passed through the ordeal undamaged, the troops encamped in the streets of Mexico City, which is generally referred to as «The Paris of America,» all are interesting and educational.
The rurales, rural police of Mexico, were used for the first time in their history as cavalry, against a fortified foe on the streets of a city. The men who go to make up the rank and file of these rurales are men whose courage and daring are unquestioned, but in their charges against the men who are were following the fortunes of Felix Diaz proved that they are of no value except in the open, as the close streets seemed to disconcert them.
The first charge against the citadel was made by these men, and it was believed by the Mexican army officers that they would be successful in reaching the outer works of the cidadel, when it was planned to bring up the artillery and shell the enemy’s position from close quarters. But the artillery was never advanced, and the rurales will long remember the futile charge in which their comrades in arms were mowed down like weeds by the heavy rifle and machine gun fire which checked their advance. One similar charge was tried a few days later, but they were of faint heart then, and only failure resulted, the rurales thereafter refusing to sacrifice themselves in useless cavalry charges.
Many of the pictures will show that the women of Mexico are not averse to sharing the dangers which beset their husbands or lovers, and many follow even to the battle front. The woman of the Mexican army is a creature demanding a great deal of sympathy and pity, and in hundreds of cases real respect must be given them for their daring and devotion to the fortunes and misfortunes of their loved ones.
The Mexican army has no commissary department, nor does it in the least attempt to provide sustenance necessary for the soldiers who fill its ranks. Every lucky Mexican soldier has his «soldadera,» which is Spanish for «female soldier.» Sometimes these women are the wives, married by the church, of the men whose fortunes they follow. In other cases, the formality of marriage is waived, they follow the line of least resistance, and the sweetheart of the soldier who falls today will have another lover tomorrow—but that does not detract in the least from the faithful attention she gives to the one she is actually serving. To this woman of the army falls the duty of securing food for her soldier boy. Cooking his beans and if in. battle, she must seek him on the battlefield and share the scanty meal with him, with no care for the morrow, no thoughts of the future welfare of either, only living in the moment.
Mexico is rich in those things -which attract and at the same time repel, and so far as the American is concerned, the country is as yet unknown, misunderstood and maligned. Through such means as that offered by the Columbia Transparency Company some real knowledge of this fascinating land can be gained, and there can be viewed some of the vast differences that exist between Mexico and the United States.
No confundir esta cinta con The Mexican Spy o Girl Spy in Mexico. Esta cinta de la compañía 101 Bison es un caso único donde los mexicanos son representados por hawaianos, pues la cinta se filmó en Honolulu y según la nota ello abona a las similitudes entre Hawaii y Mexico para crear un atmósfera adecuada.
La nota sobre esta cinta se publicó en The Motion Picture News de julio 18, 1914 (Vol. X, No. 2, p. 56):
«A Mexican Spy in America.» (101 Bison. Two reels. Saturday, July 18.)—This picture was photographed in Honolulu and, due to the similarity between Mexico and Honolulu, the Mexican atmosphere is uppermost in every foot of the picture.
The part of the action that transpires in the United States is supposed to take place on the border, and here, too, the atmosphere is predominant. The Mexicans that appear in the picture, other than the principals, are Hawaiians and these hitter make ideal Mexicans. The drill scenes on the border are most realistic, partly because they are real. Besides these valuable elements of the picture the drama has a new turn to affairs when, in the finale, the hero turns from the heroine even after she has proved herself worthy of him.
The Mexican spy is a friend of the son of the commandant of the United States fort, and when war is declared the spy is commissioned to procure the signal code. He is found out and apprehended before any harm occurs. Marie Walcamp and William Clifford are the principals.
La situación de los empresarios «cinematografistas» de la ciudad de México fue boyante por lo que se desprende de la nota aparecida en The Motion Picture News del 18 de julio de 1914 (Vol. X, No. 2, p. 175). Según la noticia «especial» para el rotativo la guerra no hizo mella en el negocio del cine.
El negocio del cine no fue afectado por la revolución y la nota recalca la importancia del Salón Rojo que cobra un tostón por tanda, equivalente a 25 centavos de dólar donde se podía comer un helado así como degustar una opípara cena y asistir a cualquiera de sus tres salas de proyección. También hace mención de las carpas en los barrios populares donde los precios rondan los diez centavos plata.
El Salón Rojo tuvo una ganancia de diez mil pesos por la exhibición de la pelea Jeffries-Johnson ; mientras que el dueño español del cine Internacional obtuvo cinco mil pesos por la proyección de unos ataques zapatistas en Milpa Alta. La vista de las escenas de la revolución maderista dio una ganancia de 27 mil pesos al ser exhibida en la capital, Puebla, Guadalajara y Monterrey. El teatro María Guerrero y otros de la periferia, según los empresarios del ramo, obtienen del total de sus entradas, alrededor de 40% en ganancias.
A la población de la ciudad de México, que fluctuaba en alrededor de 600 mil almas, le gustaba las escenas de aviación, los eventos deportivos del Jockey Club y del Club Reforma y las siempre atractivas corridas de toros que nunca faltaban en las proyecciones de vistas, así como los eventos militares de la revolución.
Son las cintas norteamericanas seguidas por las francesas las que más atraen a los asistentes, sin que tengan mucha predilección por asuntos educativos o culturales, ya que los mexicanos no entendían los intertítulos en inglés que por aquella época no se traducían ni se subtitulaban.
EXHIBITORS THRIVE IN MEXICO DESPITE WAR
Revolutions of Four Years Fail to Disturb the Prosperity of «Cinematografías,» Which Made Money When Other Business Houses and the Regular Theatres Were Forced to Close – American Films Are the Favorites
Special to The Motion Picture News.
Mexico City-, Mex., July 8. Revolutions and banditry which have swept Mexico during the past four years have failed to affect the largest amusement factor in the lives of Mexicans—outside the bullfights—the motion picture houses.
At the beginning of the series of revolutions, in November, 1910, eleven «cinematografias,» as the motion picture houses are called in Spanish, were in operation in this city.
Other business houses went by the board, every theatre except the Principal, was compelled to close its doors by the depressing effect of the various uprisings, but the picture houses apparently are making as much money as ever.
The range from the magnificent Salón Rojo—or Red Hall—with its wide balconies overhanging San Francisco avenue, its large refreshment parlor where anything to eat from ice cream to a seven-course dinner can be obtained, and its three film halls operating simultaneously, down to the little street show set up on a canvas-covered lot in the suburbs.
Prices range with the size and location of the motion picture houses. The Salón Rojo charges a «toston,» or fifty cents, silver (25 cents American currency) admission, but this entitles the ticket-buyer to spend as much time as he likes in the balconies, watching the parade of fine carriages and beautiful women in Avenida de San Francisco, and to see all three of the shows as often as he likes.
In the suburbs and in the outskirts of the main city—which, by the way, shelters 600.000 inhabitants—admission to the tent-houses presenting one, and rarely, two films, is as low at ten cents, silver (five cents, U.S. currency).
Enormous crowds pack both the high-priced and the cheap movies, and some of their best attractions are films of their own wars. Profits have been large in the motion picture business in Mexico City.
The proprietor of the Salón Rojo cleared $10,000 net profit on the films of the Jeffries-Johnson fight, while the Spanish owner of the «Cine Internacional,» a hall which has no other attraction than its films, netted $5,000 on a picture he made during a raid of the Zapatista bandits on Milpa Alta, about twenty miles from Mexico City.
Films of the Madero revolution, made by agents of the owner of the Salon Rojo and shown through the smaller «movie» houses in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puebla, and Monterey, made a net profit, according to the manager’s report to the government, of $27,000.
Of foreign films, those of the United States predominate, but many made in France are shown. These usually appear first in the larger houses in the center of the city, and then are shown in the tent houses, the María Guerrero Theatre, and similar small amusement places. Owners of these houses figure on about forty per cent of their gross income being net profit.
The people of this capital have developed a taste for news films and for Western dramas. They care little for educational films, largely because the majority do not understand the captions, which are written in English.
The bullfight has been reproduced frequently and well by the native movie-makers; indeed, not an important fight is held without being put onto the films of some one of the larger houses.
Aviation meets, military movements and sports of the Reforma and Jockey Clubs likewise have been filmed, and have attracted crowded houses, where similar foreign films would draw only foreigners to see them.
The field in Mexico City, and most of the larger towns of the republic, is controlled by the owners of the Salón Rojo, though the proprietor of the Cine Internacional has made some inroad into the business of the «one-man trust.»