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Pictures in the margins
Author: Dolores Tierney

From 1943 until 1950, Emilio Fernández was regarded as one of the foremost purveyors of 'Mexicanness,' as one of the most important filmmakers of the Mexican film industry. This book explores the contradictions of post-Revolutionary representation as manifested in Fernández' canonical 1940s films: María Candelaria, Víctimas del pecado, Las abandonadas, La perla, Enamorada, Río Escondido, Maclovia and Salón Mexico. It examines transnational influences that shaped Fernández' work. The book acknowledges how the events of the Mexican revolution impacted on the country's film industry and the ideological development of nationalism. It takes note of current tendencies in film studies and postcolonial theory to look for the excesses, instabilities and incoherencies in texts, which challenge such totalizing projects of hegemony or cultural reification as 'cultural nationalism' or ' mexicanidad.' The book looks at how classical Mexican cinema has been studied, surveying the US studies of classical Mexican cinema which diverge from Mexican analyses by making space for the 'other' through genre and textual analyses. Fernández's Golden Age lasted for seven years, 1943-1950. The book also examines how the concept of hybridity mediates the post-Revolutionary discourse of indigenismo (indigenism) in its cinematic form. It looks specifically at how malinchismo, which is also figured as a 'positive, valorisation of whiteness,' threatens the 'purity' of an essential Mexican in María Candelaria, Emilio Fernández's most famous indigenist film. Emilio Fernandez's Enamorada deals with the Revolution's renegotiation of gender identity.

The history of classical Mexican cinema and its scholarship
Dolores Tierney

This chapter looks at how classical Mexican cinema has been studied. It begins with a history of cinema in Mexico up to and including the 1940s, including the advent of sound cinema. The chapter examines the state's relationship to popular culture (and particularly cinema) in Mexico in the 1940s in terms of a consolidation of the post-Revolutionary nationalist project. It challenges the film scholarship, local nontextual perspectives, which characterize Mexican cinema as 'underdeveloped' and suggests a means of reading against an approach that continually reasserts subalternity in the face of the colonizing culture (Hollywood). After a survey of US studies of classical Mexican cinema which diverge from Mexican analyses by making space for the 'other' through genre and textual analyses, it concludes by outlining how a textual approach might provide an account of Emilio Fernández' oeuvre as contradictory, non homogeneous and evident of a fissured cultural nationalism.

in Emilio Fernández
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Hybridity, indigenismo and the discourse of whitening
Dolores Tierney

This chapter examines how the concept of hybridity mediates the post-Revolutionary discourse of indigenismo (indigenism) in its cinematic form. It looks specifically at how malinchismo, which is also figured as a 'positive, valorisation of whiteness,' threatens the 'purity' of an essential Mexican in María Candelaria, Emilio Fernández's most famous indigenist film. This chapter looks at the contradictions of indigenism in Fernández' often cited as exemplary María Candelaria, suggesting that the film's representation of the indígena embodies a hybrid incoherent identity. The chapter also argues that the representation of indigenismo in Maria Candelaria is predicated on a pre-Revolutionary racial ideology that comes not just from a residual European influence but also from Fernandez' borrowings from Hollywood. This chapter also looks at the contradictions of indigenism in Fernández' two other Golden Age indigenist films Maclovia and La perla (The Pearl).

in Emilio Fernández
Dolores Tierney

Emilio Fernandez's golden age lasted for seven years, 1943-50. This chapter begins by looking at Fernández' role within the system, mapping how, in the critical analysis of his work, the construction of Fernández as auteur and 'indio' intersects with the processes of institutionalization involved in 'nation' and 'national culture.' It questions auteurist readings of Fernández which, by seeking to construct him as a flesh-and-blood individual who gives meaning and coherence to a unified oeuvre, fall into the trap of the 'cult of personality.' The chapter also looks at how the institutionalization is evident in the 1980s accounts of him written coincidentally at the same time as the biggest upsurge in the production of Mexican culture studies. It examines what is at stake when the proponents of Mexican national cinema promote Fernandez as auteur, particularly given the neo-colonialist implications of the use of the auteurist paradigm in Mexico.

in Emilio Fernández
Dolores Tierney

This chapter questions the reproduction of motifs of cultural nationalism in relation to the production of the hembra (female), an exaggeratedly submissive and abnegated female identity, and femininity in conventional readings of Salón México, Las abandonadas and Víctimas del pecado. It looks at how melodrama offers a space for subversive pleasure within an otherwise restrictive moral context that challenges gender ideology as it relates to racial identity. The chapter seeks to destabilize the rigid melodramatic, social, racial and gender paradigms upon which readings of the three films are based. It attempts to show how the unacceptable 'other' (the liberated sexuality of the lone female dancer) is not necessarily the opposite but in fact an integral part of the image of the nation. The three films are less morally dichotomous in their representation of Mexican women and the struggle for modernity in the 1940s than much of conventional scholarship allows for.

in Emilio Fernández
Abstract only
Dolores Tierney

From 1943 until 1950, Emilio Fernández was regarded as one of the foremost purveyors of 'Mexicanness,' as one of the most important filmmakers of the Mexican film industry. This chapter highlights some of the key concepts presented in the subsequent chapters of the book. The book explores the contradictions of post-Revolutionary representation as manifested in Fernández' canonical 1940s films: María Candelaria, Víctimas del pecado, Las abandonadas, La perla, Enamorada, Río Escondido, Maclovia and Salón Mexico. It examines transnational influences that shaped Fernández' work. The book acknowledges how the events of the Mexican revolution impacted on the country's film industry and the ideological development of nationalism. It takes note of current tendencies in film studies and postcolonial theory to look for the excesses, instabilities and incoherencies in texts, which challenge such totalizing projects of hegemony or cultural reification as 'cultural nationalism' or ' mexicanidad.'

in Emilio Fernández
Dolores Tierney

As part of Mexico's ongoing Revolution, 'the ideological vision of society and culture offered/accepted by the State,' the cultural reelaboration of Mexicanness also involved a cultural redefinition of gender. This chapter discusses Emilio Fernandez's Enamorada deals with the Revolution's renegotiation of gender identity. It argues that Fernandez's and the Revolution's explicit gender discourses of 'lo macho' and female submission are often undermined by the melodramatic mise-en-scène and borrowings from the Hollywood screwball comedy. The chapter attempts to read against a blurring between the accepted model of Revolutionary masculinity and a hypermasculine filmmaker if either actually exists. It explores the eliding of Fernández's high voice in biographical auteurist accounts suggests a repression of 'other,' less 'virile' readings of his work. The chapter shows there is room for other readings of Enamorada than Mexican cultural nationalism and the basic Fernández mythology allow for - i.e., in this case a feminist reading.

in Emilio Fernández
Río Escondido
Dolores Tierney

This chapter, through Emilio Fernández' Río Escondido, questions a key element within the post-Revolution redefinition of Mexico: necessary consonance of Fernández' films with conservative, Government ideology. Specifically, it explores the tensions between Government discourses of progress and modernity and Río Escondido's representation of Mexico. At the same time, the chapter takes issue with the idea that this film (along with all Fernández's films) represents an 'antimodernist utopia' antithetical to progress and modernity, and suggests instead that it is firmly rooted in the contemporary moment (and problems) of its production. Although, Río Escondido seemingly furthers the State's claim to be Revolutionary by figuring a revolutionary struggle and victory, the chapter finds that the very revolutionary actions the film celebrates are simultaneously disavowed as part of Mexico's contemporary reality.

in Emilio Fernández
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Mexican cinema and Emilio Fernández post the Golden Age – from golden boy to ‘the man in black’
Dolores Tierney

This chapter presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the book. After Río Escondido and Víctimas del pecado, Emilio Fernández goes from being the Mexican and Latin American cinema director of the 1940s, to nobody. Accounts of his career post the Golden Age paint him as a 'tragic' figure, making poorly received films and acting (in black charro costume) in others' films in order to survive when he could not find work as a director. The chapter discusses the Mexican film industry and Fernández's film career in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Fernández's decline and stagnation are blamed on the repetition and anachronism of the same images of nationalism that brought him great success during his most prestigious years. The book hopes to generate new analyses of other Fernandez's films that are critically neglected because they lie beyond the canon of cultural nationalism.

in Emilio Fernández