Que Viva Mexico!,

Eisenstein’s cursed film



Documentary filmmaker Claudia Collao investigates Sergei Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico, a film that never came to fruition.

What was the purpose of your documentary?

The film is part of a collection of four episodes that deal with cursed films. In each of them, I try to treat the film as a character in its own right. It was the early 1930s, and Eisenstein had not managed to fit into the Hollywood mould. ¡ Que Viva Mexico ! was to be a very ambitious six-part saga retracing the entire history of Mexico, from its origins to the Mexican Revolution. Of the six, Eisenstein only shot four and he was unable to edit the rushes, which were blocked in the United States for a long time by the Cold War. They were discovered and seen long after the filmmaker's death, in the 1970s. Eisenstein never saw a single frame.


Europa-Maudits-Que-Viva-MexicoEuropa maudits : ¡ Que Viva Mexico !,  2021

One gets the feeling that this shoot represents a very happy moment in the director's life...

¡ Que Viva Mexico! is a huge misunderstanding. Eisenstein thinks he is free. He was sent to America to make a film with sound processes that the USSR would later use. The United States thought it was attracting the most interesting filmmaker of the moment. Everyone had their own agenda. Eisenstein thought he was navigating between the two nations, having acquired a certain autonomy, but he was at the mercy of two world powers. He was followed by the Mexican secret service, tracked by the Russian secret service and had to answer to his patron, Upton Sinclair, a socialist writer married to a billionaire! Legend has it that after three years, Stalin sent a telegram to Sinclair to tell Eisenstein to return immediately.!

During these three years of filming, the filmmaker is happy, fulfilled, has no constraints, and the photos of the shooting that we see in the film show this clearly. The images shot are fabulous, so modern, they resemble what a young director would do today, even though they date from 1931-1932. Eisenstein kept the little souvenirs he brought back from Mexico as relics, because it was a dream that had vanished. And he also said that it was his favourite film, even though he had never seen a frame of it.

Charlotte Pavard



Screenings :

Europa maudits : ¡ Que Viva Mexico ! by Claudia Collao (2021, 52min)

Villa Lumière Fri15 9:30am



Categories: Lecture Zen