The Mexican Independence Movement in Mexican Film

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by Daniel Nardini

Mexico has been shaped by its long and rich history, and many of these historical events have found their way into both Mexican film and TV. There are many Mexican films and TV series about the war for independence, the French invasion, and the Mexican Revolution. The Mexican War for Independence is certainly well represented in film, and there are at least three Mexican films and one TV series I wish to highlight here. The three films I wish to say something about are Morelos: sierra de la nacion, Morelos, and Hidalgo: La historia jamas contada.

The film Morelos: sierra de la nacion (Morelos: Servant of the Nation), produced in 1965 by the famed director Julio Bracho, tells the story about Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon—the second in command to Miguel Hidalgo who took over the independence fighting forces when Hidalgo was captured. The film follows Morelos until he too is captured by forces loyal to the Spanish Crown. The more recently produced film Morelos (2012) by director Antonio Serrano is a 200th anniversary celebration of Morelos and his fight for Mexican independence. This film deals with the last few years of his fight against the Spanish loyalist forces, his campaign to free Mexico, and his relationship with his men.

Hidalgo: La historia jamas contada (Hidalgo: The Untold Story), also produced by Antonio Serrano, tells the story about Miguel Hidalgo, the priest forced to leave his wife and children when the Church authorities send him to the small town of Dolores as punishment for his progressive ideas about helping the poor. It was in Dolores that he formed a revolutionary group dedicated to ridding the nation of Spanish rule, and where he read out his famous “Grito” against Spanish rule. The film tells about his life story from the perspective of Hidalgo in a Spanish prison waiting to be executed. This movie was filmed in Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi and Michoacan where Hidalgo’s forces would sweep triumphantly against those Spanish forces sent against him. Filmed on the 200th anniversary of Hidalgo’s rebellion, the film was the most popular movie produced for 2010, and for that the actor Damian Bichir Najera won the Colon de Plata Best Actor Award for his portrayal of Hidalgo.

Likewise, in 2010, the Mexican TV series Gritos de muerte y libertad (Cries of Death and Freedom) tells the story of the struggle for independence from 1808 all the way to the proclamation of the independence of Mexico in 1821. The TV series featured many prominent actors and actresses and all of the episodes were beautifully reconstructed by many Mexican historians in an effort for historical accuracy. The TV series was shot in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, and various parts of the State of Mexico, and first premiered on August 30th of that year and ended on September 16th (the day of independence). There is no shortage of films, TV shows and even soap operas on many aspects of Mexico’s long history, and films and TV series on Mexico’s independence movement is no exception.

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