Que Viva Mexico!
(Da zdravstvuet Meksika!)
(Thunder over Mexico)
Anne Nesbet is an associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures and film and media at UC Berkeley.
In 1931, Eisenstein shot some fifty hours of film in Mexico, intended for a six-part episodic epic combining documentary and fiction to portray Mexican history and culture from the pre-Columbian era to the current day. Lack of funds, problems with backers (including novelist Upton Sinclair), and a denied visa sent Eisenstein back to Russia, the project unfinished. The version we present here was edited by Eisenstein’s frequent collaborator Grigori Alexandrov based on Eisenstein’s original conception; filled with memorable images, it is the closest thing to a “definitive” Que Viva Mexico! that exists today.
Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1936
Based in part on a short story by Turgenev, in part on a true story of one Pavel Morozov, Soviet boy-hero, Bezhin Meadow was to be an exuberant tale of the clash between peasant farmers of the Czarist era and the youthful supporters of the emerging collectivist movement. Its production halted by official opprobrium and Eisenstein’s illness, the rushes destroyed during World War II, the film exists today only in this photomontage outline reconstructed by Naum Kleiman.