While in Argentina, renowned Mexican muralist David Siqueiros paints the mural "Ejercicio plástico" at the country home of newspaper owner Natalio Botana. Set in the 1930's, this lovely ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Luis Machín ...
Natalio Botana
Carla Peterson ...
Blanca Luz Brum
...
Salvadora Medina Onrubia
...
David Alfaro Siqueiros
Sergio Boris ...
Camilo Cuello Vitale ...
Carlos Botana
Rodrigo Noya ...
Helvio Botana
Juan Palomino ...
Saravia
Mónica Galán ...
Victoria Ocampo
Luis Campos ...
Presidente Agustín P. Justo
Regina Lamm ...
Bebé Sansinena
Francisco Cocuzza ...
Viejo facho
Stella Gallazzi ...
Fräulein Pupy
Marcos Woinsky ...
Anarquista Marek
Matías Sandor ...
Jaime Botana
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Storyline

While in Argentina, renowned Mexican muralist David Siqueiros paints the mural "Ejercicio plástico" at the country home of newspaper owner Natalio Botana. Set in the 1930's, this lovely historical reconstruction serves as a testament to the creation of a masterpiece, while depicting the controversial private and public events that shaped its materialization. A complex storyline which includes Argentina history, romance, drama and much more. A story of ethics, infidelity, love and hate around the renowned David Siqueiros, no one is innocent here; everybody shows weakness and values as well, there is no black and white. There are multiple tones, as in a Siqueiros painting. Written by AnonymousB

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama

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Release Date:

20 May 2010 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

El mural de Siqueiros  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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The movie has it that Siqueiros arrived in Argentina near the time of the death of Carlos Gardel, when in fact Gardel died two years later. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A record of artistic creation
5 March 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In 1933 the great Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros was invited to visit Argentina and give a series of conferences in the Sociedad de Amigos del Arte (Society of Friends of Art). Argentina was in the third year of the Década Infame (Infamous Decade) that began in 1930 with the military overthrow of the democratically elected president Hipólito Yrigoyen and lasted until 1943; during this period, nominally democratic, reactionary governments succeeded each other on the basis of scandalously rigged elections.

Siqueiros' talks were controversial; he was a Communist and he stressed that art should abandon "scholasticism and academicism" to face social reality and put itself to the service of the people (a point shared by many artists of the time such as the other Mexican muralists Rivera and Orozco). This was anathema to the Argentine government of the time (and to upper class Argentinians). His conferences were tumultuous and were suspended after the second. One of Siqueiros' projects was to paint a mural on the side of a gigantic grain elevator in Buenos Aires harbor; not unexpectedly, permission was denied by the authorities.

Natalio Botana was a self-made newspaper magnate who was often compared to W. R. Hearst (Botana did not mind the comparison). Botana, however, was a far more enlightened man than Hearst; many budding Argentine writers (such as Roberto Arlt) found employment in Botana's newspaper Crítica; others like Jorge Luis Borges had their work published in Critica's literary supplement. Many of the leading personalities of the time (George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, Jack Dempsey) were invited to submit articles to Crítica, the inclusion of Dempsey attesting to Botana's natural irreverence.

Botana and Siqueiros took to each other (Botana had, in his words, "sympathy for revolutionaries"). Botana invited Siqueiros to paint a mural on the walls and ceiling of a huge basement room in Botana's country house. To work for the amusement of a rich man and his friends was not Siqueiros' groove, but lacking other projects he enthusiastically agreed, requesting the help of some of the best Argentine artists of the time (Berni, Castagnino, Spilimbergo). The mural was completed using a combination of classical methods and modern techniques, such as synthetic paints and spray guns. It was named "Ejercicio Plástico" (Plastic Exercise) and described as "an imaginary underwater world with a type of bubble where sensual feminine figures float in the water."

Botana died in 1941 and the mural underwent many vicissitudes under new owners of the country house (including an attempt to destroy it as "obscene"). It was finally fully reconstructed and restored in 2010, the centerpiece of a new Museum of Political Art, in a former customs office just behind the Casa Rosada (the Argentine presidential palace).

This movie is a well documented and accurate account of the making of the mural, and a faithful reconstruction of Argentine society at the time, both the "have" and "have not" classes. Director Hector Olivera has done an outstanding job, deftly communicating the creative spirit that animated Siqueiros and his Argentine collaborators and the complex personal interactions among Botana, his wife (the writer Salvadora Medina Onrubia), Siqueiros, his wife (the Uruguayan poet Blanca Luz Brum) and the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (later Nobel laureate and, at the time, in the Chilean Consulate in Buenos Aires). The Mexican actor Bruno Bichir plays Siqueiros to perfection, and the rest of the cast is equally good. Production values (cinematography, costumes, sets) are excellent.

Hector Olivera, born in 1931, has been a major driving force in the Argentine movie industry for more than half a century. Most of his work as producer and director has been straight commercial fare (including five movies he filmed for Roger Corman in the USA) but, as he often remarked, he used the proceedings to finance his more ambitious work, movies of artistic and political significance. He has directed quite a few of these, of which El Mural (filmed when he was 80!) is the most accomplished. He has also produced many films, most helmed by the distinguished Argentine director Fernando Ayala. Olivera's production company, Aries Cinematográfica (founded with Ayala) has been in existence for more than 50 years. Many of the moved produced by Aries are worth watching and some are outstanding, but had scant diffusion outside Latin America. One hopes they will eventually be made available to Region 1 viewers.


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