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Hecho por México: The Films of Gabriel Figueroa

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
7:30 p.m. The Saint That Forged a Country
Julio Bracho (Mexico, 1942)

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(La virgen que forjó una patria). A stirring chronicle of religion, politics, and the relations between the two, spanning the sixteenth century to the nineteenth, The Saint That Forged a Country evokes the national-historic significance of the Virgin of Guadalupe, “Mother of Mexico.” It opens in Querétaro in 1810, as Father Hidalgo (Julio Villarreal) and his fellow rebels decide to rise up against Spanish rule. While Hidalgo invokes the protection of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the action shifts back in time to sixteenth-century Tenochtitlán, where another Catholic, Brother Martín (Domingo Soler), tries to mitigate the miseries inflicted on the indigenous people by their Spanish oppressors. When the Virgin appears to indigenous weaver Juan Diego (silent film star Ramon Novarro, making his only appearance in a Mexican film), the miracle incites the spread of Catholicism through Mexico and calms the conflict between the Spaniards and the Indians, while laying the groundwork for another conflict—Hidalgo’s war of independence waged under the banner of Guadalupe.

• Written by Bracho, Rene Capistran Garza. Photographed by Gabriel Figueroa. With Ramon Novarro, Domingo Soler, Gloria Marin, Julio Villarreal. (110 mins, B&W, In Spanish with English subtitles, 35mm, From Filmoteca de la UNAM)