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The General (2009)

El general (original title)
3:05 | Trailer
The glimpse into the life of Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles.



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Past and present collide as filmmaker Natalia Almada brings to life audio recordings she inherited about her great-grandfather, General Plutarco Elías Calles, a revolutionary general who became president of Mexico in 1924. Time is blurred in this visually arresting portrait of a family and country living under the shadows of the past. Written by Daniela Alatorre

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3 December 2010 (Mexico)  »

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Fills in some of the blanks in Mexico's 20th century history
30 June 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I attended a screening of "El General" at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival, one of a number of recent informative documentaries from south of the border aiming to fill in some of the blanks in our collective cinematic history of this great nation.

Director Natalia Almada has a unique connection to this land as her great-grandfather was Plutarcho Elias Calles, who served as President of Mexico in the 1920s. Through the use of audio tapes taken from her grandmother (Calles' daughter), Almada hopes to put a friendlier face on the towering man known as "Mexico's Mussolini."

The 1900s was rife with presidential assassinations, and Calles was the first to die of natural causes. Exiled to San Diego after his stormy reign, he returned to Mexico in 1941 and died there in 1945. Much of the nation's history has been shrouded in mystery (and remains so to this day) but, while Almada's intention was not to chronicle the events of the past 100 years, she did hope to answer some of the questions.

Almada intercuts colorful images of present day Mexico City with grainy archival footage from the early 20th century. She focuses on the commerce of this great bustling metropolis, pointing out that the half million street vendors account for as much as 40% of Mexico's gross domestic product. In the Q&A following the screening, Almada explained that her intention was simply to show the contrast between the often barbaric treatment of its citizens in her great grandfather's time to the modern Mexico.

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