February 26, 2008

From Gum-Chewing Audience to Snifter Audience, Eisenstein and Mexico Still Hanging Inbetween.

Upton Sinclair's novel OIL! is today pointed at the snifter audience (via Paul Thomas Anderson). The editing of Eisenstein's QUE VIVA MEXICO! is wrested from his hands and pointed at the "gum-chewing" audience by Upton Sinclair. Sinclair makes THUNDER OVER MEXICO out of one section of what Eisenstein had shot. The WORKERS FILM AND PHOTO LEAGUE and ANTI-IMPERIALIST LEAGUE OF AMERICA respond to Sinclair's version below. Eisenstein, back in the U.S.S.R., is hospitalized.



Mexico is NOT a natural paradise where happy people live in peace in plenty!

Mexico is NOT the idyllic picture of "beauty and charm" as it has been described by the sponsors of this film!

Mexico is NOT merely the colorful land of the exotic magueys and majestic Mayan temples. In Mexico the masses are oppressed, exploited and degraded by a military dictatorship whose record of cold-blooded murders and ruthless repression ranks with that of Machado, deposed Cuban tyrant.

The startling beauty of the Mexican land is undeniable, and the Soviet cameraman Edourd Tisse, has succeeded in capturing that beauty in every single and unforgettable foot of this film.

But the Mexican peasants are being driven off this picturesque land by force of arms! Murder bands calling themselves "Liga de Defensa Social," hired by the Wall Street-controlled Calless-Rodriguez government of landowners, plunder and exterminate the peons wherever they offer resistance to forcible eviction from the land.

About these deeds there is nothing either particularly "charming" or "beautiful." No more so than the assassination of labor leaders and suppression of the trade unions. No more so than the wholesale exile of hundreds of intellectuals, workers and peasants to the dreaded "Mexican Devil's Island," Islas Marias.

"THUNDER OVER MEXICO" hails the perpetrators of these deeds and glorifies their existence! HOW? By singing the praises of what it calls "The New Mexico." By showing the peasantry uplifted and "civilized" by the present regime. By asking us to believe that this mythical "New Mexico" is primarily concerned with the welfare of the Mexican people!

That is why we say that "THUNDER OVER MEXICO" lies! That is why we say that to credit this film to Sergei Eisenstein, Soviet director, is adding insult to injury!

No barrage of ballyhoo and publicity can convince us that a director responsible for the greatest films ever made dealing with the struggle of the Soviet masses for emancipation from Czarist oppression and tyranny (POTEMKIN, OCTOBER, STRIKE, OLD AND NEW), could have turned out the monstrous distortion of reality that is the present version of what was once entitled QUE VIVA MEXICO! "THUNDER OVER MEXICO" was not edited by Eisenstein but by Hollywood "montage masters" who completely distorted Eisenstein's original conception of a film that was intended to satirize rather than glorify the present reactionary Mexican regime.

We call upon all movie-goers to demand the withdrawal of this film and the restitution of the original negative to Eisenstein. LET YOUR PROTEST BE HEARD WHEREVER THE FILM IS EXHIBITED. SEND YOUR PROTEST TO STOP THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE FILM!

The releasers of "THUNDER OVER MEXICO" in their advance publicity express the pious hope that their film might be appreciated by they call the "gum-chewing" movie-going audience.

We call upon you, the "gum-chewing" audience to show your appreciation of "THUNDER OF MEXICO" by forcing the film off the screen!

Send protests immediately to SOL LESSER, distributor, Radio City Bldg., NYC
Send protests to ARTHUR MAYER, Mgr., Rialto Theatre, Times Square, NYC

P. S. We wish to make it clear that we are in no wise connected with groups or individuals who have been campaigning against "THUNDER OVER MEXICO" on the basis of rumors, personalities gossip.


This is a reproduction of a Handbill protesting the mutilation of QUE VIVA MEXICO!. The "gum-chewing" reference is in reaction to Upton Sinclair's statement that he wanted to present a film to which the "gum-chewing audience" could respond. 


bruno andrade said...

This is the best damn post I've seen in a while in any blog.

Andy Rector said...

brigado Bruno! Wish I'd written it with the ole WPFL timers...

Who today stops screenings? Who initiates them?


bruno andrade said...

Well, you know, these are precisely the questions that have been bothering the likes of Pedro Costa and Abel Ferrara (let's not even mention Godard, Kiarostami, Moretti...) for what must be like ages now: who today stops screenings, who initiates them?

The whole thing seems to be a mess nowadays, and I think that was a word Costa actually used in an interview. Like what happened with NO TOUCHEZ PAS LA HACHE in Canada: the film was programmed to be released february 22. At the day of its release, the distributor simply pulled all the ads from the newspapers, from their official site and so-forth... In other words: they pulled the plug of the whole thing. The film simply disappeared, vanished. Just like that. You can read (in portuguese) the whole account of what happened in http://olhodehochelaga.zip.net/

Mind you that we're talking about a film that got raving reviews everywhere it was shown, is a period film, and, you know, IT'S IN FRENCH! I'm sure that in the whole of Canada they can perhaps find some people familiar with the language and, who knows, maybe would be willing to pay to see such a film (Guillaume Depardieu, Piccoli, is a period film etc.).

The whole thing seems to be getting just outright more and more criminal. It's stupid even trying to be ironic with the fact that we're talking about a film spoken in French that goes undistributed in Canada - let alone that the film is from Rivette and is one of the loveliest things produced in this decade.

Andy Rector said...

Romero's DIARY OF THE DEAD is also getting treated like a red-headed step-child here in Los Angeles as we speak -- this is no way to treat a film that is undoubtably one of the finest north american films of the year.

But who would feel the need to stop a screening of THERE WILL BE BLOOD? The amplification of a villain, even capitalist (the more complicated, the better for the capitalist), moves nothing.