Rojo amanecer (1989)
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The killings in La Plaza de Las 3 culturas is the most terrible and violent event in Mexican contemporary story. This film showed what really happened in a crude and realistic way. The story is well crafted, the character development is great, and the explaination of how the events ocurred was perfectly narrated through the dramatic plot.
The direction is excelent as it's a dramatic film based on real events, instead of a documentary the dramatic plot fit perfect. The acting couldn't have been better. Consolidated and talented actors like Héctor Bonilla, Maria Rojo, Eduardo Palomo, and Demián Bichir, give the best performances in the film. The score is crude but effective, works perfect with the tension of the film. The cinematography gave a documentary feel, still it worked great.
ROJO AMANECER is without a doubt, one of the best Mexican films of all time. Not only for being a great produced film, it's a film that has the intention to show how things really happened, and sadly, nowadays the events shown in the movie are the pure reflection of a decadent Mexican society.
Excelent film, recommended for everyone. ACTING 10 DIRECTION 10 SCORE 9 FUN FACTOR 10
Fons then prepare the scene with apparently meaningless sequences: A blackout, a missing call from the husband, death telephones, some armed persons at the roof of the building when grand father and grand son are playing with small soldiers, the youngest sister going to a friend's house to do her homework. During the first hour all the action took place in the little apartment with apparently no signs of action. In fact nothing happens outside the apartment, but the director creates an atmosphere of tension and doubt before the important event of the day. The apartment is located in the middle of the tragedy. Outside, some other buildings creates an open square (named "Plaza de las tres culturas") and precisely there, the massive concentration of students is scheduled to start at 5 PM. The grandfather comments with his daughter about the military presence and the snipers at the roof of each building. Why? She asks. The answer is very simple: because they are prepared for something big. Then the massive meeting begins. In the apartment the little boy is doing his homework, the mother is sewing and the grand father is fixing an old watch, but we can clearly hear the speech, there is a lot of people outside. Everything is in calm, a disturbing calm. Then, the inevitable. Red lights on the sky and a lot of gun shots. The mother lean out of the window and start screaming: They are killing them!!! They are killing them!!!
The second part of the movie begins, the sons arrived with four other students, one of them is wounded (Eduardo Palomo) and is bleeding badly. Outside the gun shots can be heard briefly but consistently, as well as the screams and the shouts. The grand father decides to pick up his grand daughter and we can see a sequence with military people hitting students and a lot of blood in the corridor. The students, safe at home start to talk about what happened down stairs, disturbing stories. Apparently the soldiers opened fire with no real reason, killing a lot of people, not only students but small children, civilians even senior citizens. The father finally arrives after midnight and tells the family about military trucks transporting dead bodies and naked people arrested and severely wounded. Then turned on the TV to see the news and the official version is that the military squads were being supported the police forces in order to calm down some urban fighting between students. Incredible, but media is controlled by the government, someone commented. Everyone goes to sleep and seems like the end of the movie is near, but some knockings at the door interrupt the peace and quiet at the apartment. Some voices claiming to open the door. Armed people, a lot of bad words. A tragic ending if you can figure out and the last scene is disturbing, the little boy is the only survivor and start walking outside the apartment seeing all the members of his family murdered. When he is in the square the last shot presented some military members cleaning up the mess. 10 days, just ten days after that episode, the Mexican President leaded the events for the Olympic Games opening.
The film is very good, with strong acting performances and a solid screenplay (written by Guadalupe Ortega and Xavier Robles). The picture received 9 Ariel awards (oscar equivalent for Mexican pictures) including the golden Ariel for best picture, best directing for Fons, acting awards for María Rojo, Héctor Bonilla and Jorge Fegán and two awards for Ortega and Robles for screenplay and original story. Fons besides received a special jury award during the 1990 San Sebastian film festival where the film was nominated for the golden seashell.
One more detail: Che Guevara picture on the oldest brothers room's wall is the classic photograph took by Korda and by that time (1968) was used as an icon for the student movement. Because of that picture, military people had an excuse to start looking for "subversive propaganda" and finally discover the hidden students and killed the whole family. A must see movie and obligated for Mexican citizens.
The sound recording and editing was most probably done by butchers. Clumsy ones. The firing sounds seem to be stolen from a Pink Panther cartoon episode. I suppose though that the budget was small, so I will not insist too much on it.
There is nonetheless some VERY good acting in here, performed by Héctor Bonilla, María Rojo and Demián Bichir. My highlight performance happens when Bonilla angrily addresses his sons at the family table, after arriving from work. Sadly, most of the other actors perform poorly (Bruno Bichir, although decently acting,is decidedly overshadowed by his brother). The pamphlet girl's acting is wooden and many other actors seemed to have been simply borrowed from a student theatrical company. The cops (judiciales) are almost a caricature and -even though they can be brutal in real life- suffer from overacting.
The scenery is flawless and honest. Lighting is OK, but nothing out of the ordinary. Some dialog lines are marvelously embellished and made "real" by Bonilla's and Rojo's delivery, although the dialog lines in general tend to sound kitschy, biased and overdone when dealing with political issues.
Recommended to those who want to analyze the evolution of the recent Mexican cinema and to evil cops who are looking forward into improving their verbal intimidation techniques.
The "news peg" is the memorial March held in the capital on Oct 2, 2008.
They mention that Marcelo Ebrard ordered flags flown at half-mast, a major recognition of the event.
It covers the continuing problem of impunity.
It does not, however, mention events in Guadalajara.
The article skims through various attempts to investigate and fix culpability over the years.
It also mentions calls from Amensty International and other human rights organizations for investigations and justice.