If he did not already exist, it would be necessary to invent Emilio “El Indio” Fernández. His manneristic visual style, his folkloric themes and characters, and his distinctively Indian physiognomy made him an integral element of Mexico’s culture of nationalism, as well as the nation’s best-known director. Fleeing Mexico after the defeat of his faction in the rebellion of 1923, Fernández ended up digging ditches in Hollywood. As has been the case with so many Latin American artists and intellectuals, Fernández discovered his fatherland by leaving it: “I understood that it was possible to create a Mexican cinema, with our own actors and our own stories. . . . From then on the cinema became a passion with me, and I began to dream of Mexican films.” Making Mexican cinema became Fernández’s obsession and, as is so often true of cultural nationalism, a short-term gain was to turn into a long-term dead end.
Perhaps that which most distinguishes Fernández’s films is their strikingly… read more