Saturday, April 10, 2010

Nosotros, los pobres (We the Poor)- He Said

Context is a word that should be prevalent when studying and watching films. It can change your perspective on a film you might have liked less. I kept the word in mind while watching “Nosotros, los pobres (We, The Poor),” considered one of the masterpieces of the Mexican Golden Era of Cinema. The pairing of director Ismael Rodriguez and Mexican film and music legend Pedro Infante make a formidable duo behind the scenes. This movie tells the tale of a poor carpenter Pepe, or “El Toro,” trying to survive in a poor neighborhood filled with colorful characters. The movie is shot in beautiful black and white with various musical numbers included.

“We The Poor” starts of with two children reading what seems to be the book adaptation of the movie. What was interesting was that Mr. Rodriguez decided to put a note in the “book” where he tells the audience in advance that this is a vulgar, shocking and possibly too violent movie due to Rodriguez wanting to create an accurate portrayal of the slum life. I was not so sure this would be necessary but thinking that this movie was released in 1947 it made sense, and in some scenes I was even shocked.

The movie is very deliberately paced, running at 128 minutes although not a lot of things are necessarily happening. There is a wide cast that needs to be introduced, along background stories and exposition it makes for a slow first half. Here is where context is important, considering that the movies of the times were made differently, one cold no be faulted in thinking that is a very slow moving, but here it works well. Given that Mr. Infante was a famous singer the movie does have a few musical numbers that are there not always to move the plot but to show his singing skills.

The acting in the movie felt very true to the times, from the way people spoke and enunciated things, to the relationships; it did not feel like some overtly romanticized version of the time period. Praise goes to Pedro Infante, and Evita Muñoz as Chachita, Pedro “El Toro’s” daughter. Muñoz particularly made me take notice, but due to the over-dramatic nature of her character moments, which could have been more emotionally devastating or moving, get muted. Mr. Infante oozes with charm for the entire movie, playing a very emphatic character stuck in horrible situations. You truly root for him the entire time. I mentioned the movie being shot in black and white, and it truly does add more ambiance to a deceptively dark story, making the absence of color one of the movie’s better aspects.

In the end, “We The Poor” is a great example of a way of making movies that is not common nowadays, it should be viewed and studied by movie lovers, not only as a foreign film but of a style long gone.

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