In the beautiful hills of the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico, a young boy (Emilio) is adopted by the mailman (Teo). As part of their daily tasks, they not only deliver the mail but read...
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In the beautiful hills of the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico, a young boy (Emilio) is adopted by the mailman (Teo). As part of their daily tasks, they not only deliver the mail but read letters to the villagers, as well as take dictation, since most are illiterate. Young Emilio quickly learns to read and write but feels saddened by the mostly difficult stories sent by relatives, that moved north to Denver, Colorado in pursuit of a better future. One day Teo becomes disabled and Emilio takes over the mail route and with great imagination, he changes the letters to happy and optimistic stories. Within days, the village is transformed. The elders, once hopeless, lonely and sad, are now happy and enthusiastic, enjoying the "supposed" success their loved ones write from the United States. But the enjoyment is short lived, as they realize that all the wonderful stories are the same, a product of Emilio's imagination. During this same period, Emilio meets a young girl named Elena and ... Written by
Martin Barajas Llorent
I just saw this film at the Rio in Overland Park, Kansas, as part of the twentieth Latin American Film Festival hosted by the Sociedad Hidalgo. I went thinking the whole story was right there in the blurb, but wanting to see the Copper Canyons. I expected a sentimental story.
I'm always offended by Stephen Spielberg's attempts to play on my emotions. I have to say, I totally bought into this one. Mexican writers have a way of making sentimentality profound. The story of elderly parents, in the beautiful isolation of the Copper Canyons, and the compassion of Teo and Emilio, the bringers of bad news from their children far way en El Norte, was very moving. It was made more so, knowing that many of the people of Mexican origin in the audience had known this experience first hand.
It's the first film by Barrajas Lloren't, who calls himself a liar, because he wants people to feel what he feels: hope in the face of a life that is 90% bad news. He talked about making the film in Chihuahua, torn apart by a war for control between narco armies, where the strength of the people is the only hope.
The strongest message for me was the relationship of parents and children. Teo says that distance is a terrible thing between people who love each other. The parents in the film were willing to absorb and bear all the pain their children sent them along with their remittances from an increasingly difficult life in Denver but held on to the dreams of happiness they had for them when they were small.
They were so willing to believe the good news Emilio brought them, because the love and hope parents have for their children never stops. On the other side, the distant children were working far from their loved ones, land and language so that they could send them money to survive.
I'm grateful to Barrajas Lloren't for his beautiful lies from the Copper Canyons of Chihuahua. I also loved hearing Teo read from Juan Rulfo and seeing his book survive the flames in his cabin. Maybe hope can survive, too.
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