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Roma (2018) Poster

(2018)

Trivia

Alfonso Cuarón was the only person on set to know the entire script and the direction of the film. Each day, before filming, the director would hand the lines to his cast, attempting to elicit real emotion and shock from his actors. Each actor would also receive contradictory directions and explanations, which meant that there was chaos on set every day. For Cuarón, "that's exactly what life is like: it's chaotic and you can't really plan how you'll react to a given situation".
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Jump to: Spoilers (14)
The lengthy delivery scene in the hospital was only shot once. The doctors and nurses were real, not actors, hired to make the scene feel more authentic.
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Alfonso Cuarón decided to shoot on location in Mexico City instead of using a soundstage. This is one reason for the several appearances of airplanes, because according to Cuarón they had a plane passing by every five minutes.
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The film is dedicated to "Libo," who is the family servant the central character was based on.
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Alfonso Cuarón's statement for the film: "There are periods in history that scar societies and moments in life that transform us as individuals. Time and space constrain us, but they also define who we are, creating inexplicable bonds with others that flow with us at the same time and through the same places. Roma is an attempt to capture the memory of events that I experienced almost fifty years ago. It is an exploration of Mexico's social hierarchy, where class and ethnicity have been perversely interwoven to this date and, above all, it's an intimate portrait of the women who raised me in a recognition of love as a mystery that transcends space, memory and time."
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According to Alfonso Cuarón, ninety percent of the scenes represented in the film are scenes taken out of his memory.
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For the film, Alfonso Cuarón literally gathered 70% of the furniture in his home from different family members spread all around Mexico.
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While introducing the film at a screening at the New York Film Festival, Guillermo del Toro, who was also the president of the jury at the 75th Venice Film Festival which awarded the film with the Golden Lion, named Roma one of his top 5 favorite films of all time.
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The scene in which Cleo is turning off the lights contains 45 different camera positions.
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Roma is the first time that Alfonso Cuarón, who received an official cinematographer credit, became his own cinematographer on one of his own feature projects. Cuarón originally intended for the movie to be shot by Emmanuel Lubezki. Because of logistic reasons Lubezki couldn't proceed after he had already done some preparations. Also Cuarón didn't want to hire an English-language DP and have to translate his own experience, which is why he ended up as a cinematographer.
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Colonia Roma is the neighborhood in Mexico City where the film takes place. It is a district located in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City just west of the city's historic center.
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In 2017 the Cannes Film Festival decided not to let films done exclusively for Netflix or other streaming services participate in the festival, stating that Cannes wants to preserve the traditional way of watching and making films. In 2018 Netflix announced a boycott of the festival, and Roma instead went to the Venice festival. One of the filmmakers that supported Netflix was Alfonso Cuarón. He has stated on several occasions that festivals and academies should appreciate films made for streaming services.
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According to Emmanuel Lubezki, the fact that the blocking of the scenes is very perpendicular to the lens, the actors are moving parallel to the camera and the shots are composed in Z axis rather than in X axis make the camera become almost like a consciousness that is revisiting the story, like the camera knows something that the actors don't. Alfonso Cuarón, on the other hand, counters this notion by stating that the position of camera is like "the ghost of the present that is visiting the past, without getting involved, just observing, not trying to make a judgment or commentary" and adds that "everything there would be the commentary itself".
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In the credits at the end of the film, besides members of his family, director Alfonso Cuarón notably also thanks his fellow Mexican filmmakers, Gael García Bernal, Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki.
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Alfonso Cuarón calls Roma the "most essential movie" of his career.
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The movie in the first cinema scene was La Grande Vadrouille (1966) while the film which the family attends is the 1969 American space-adventure film Marooned (1969), a precursor to Cuarón's Oscar-winner Gravity (2013).
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Part of the dialogue is in a language known as Mixtec.
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Official submission of Mexico for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 91st Academy Awards in 2019.
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The scene at the 35 minute mark where the mother watches her husband drive away as a band marches down the street is a reference to the climax of Mexican Golden Age film Enamorada (1946) where soldiers march down a street and the main character played by María Félix sees her love interest leave town. Interestingly, that scene is a reference to Morocco (1930), where Marlene Dietrich's love interest leaves town in a similar fashion.
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Before being cast Yalitza Aparicio neither knew Alfonso Cuarón's name nor saw any of his films.
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Every scene of the movie was shot on location where the events depicted took place or on sets that were exact replicas.
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Alfonso Cuarón has been talking about making this film since 2006.
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When Professor Zovek challenges his audience to copy his stance (standing on one foot with fingers crossed overhead), Cleo is the only one who manages to do so.
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To avoid a "subjective depiction" of the period, Alfonso Cuarón chose to shoot the bulk of the film in wide shots, slowing panning over a scene, taking everything in.
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When it comes to the complexities involved in scene composition and lighting, Alfonso Cuarón, being also the cinematographer on Roma, would ask himself: "What would Chivo do?" (with reference to Emmanuel Lubezki).
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As indicated in the screenplay, Roma takes place between Thursday, September 3rd, 1970 and Monday June 28, 1971.
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This is Alfonso Cuarón's first Spanish-language film and first film made in Mexico since Y Tu Mamá También (2001).
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Was chosen by TIME magazine as the best movie of 2018 and described as "an ode to the power of memory, as intimate as a whisper and as vital as the roar of the sea".
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Pedro Almodóvar endorsed Roma by naming it the best movie of the 2018. He also described the film as "two hours from a master that sweep spectators away".
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Alfonso Cuarón initially was going to make a "Darwinian Adam and Eve" story, which was a family drama set either 50,000 or 100,000 years ago, before Roma. However, when Thierry Frémaux, the director of the Cannes Film Festival, heard the pitch and told him to make something more personal along the lines of Y Tu Mamá También (2001), Cuaron veered away.
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According to Alfonso Cuarón, he has been building towards Roma since his debut, Sólo con Tu Pareja (1991).
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Emmanuel Lubezki declared Roma as one of his favorite movies of all time.
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Alfonso Cuarón stated that Roma is the first film he was fully able to convey what he wanted to convey as a film. For he feels that it's a story in many different shapes and hints of emotions that have been present since the moment he wanted to be a director.
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The script of Roma was densely described, including sounds.
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Netflix acquired the distribution rights for the film in spring of 2018 in a deal including theatrical distribution.
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The giant crab sculpture, in the scene where the kids and Cleo are eating ice-cream while a wedding takes place in the background, is really in place and can actually be visited in Puerto Ceiba, Tabasco.
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According to Emmanuel Lubezki, it feels like the camera and the cinematography are not there to illustrate; they are the film itself.
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Professor Zovek (played by pro wrestler Latin Lover) is based on a real person, an entertainer and escape artist sometimes called "the Mexican Houdini". The character is first seen on a TV screen performing a strongman bit on a variety show, but later appears as the teacher at the training camp.
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Ranked #1 in Sight&Sound Magazine's top 20 films of 2018 list.
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Director Alfonso Cuarón's second-longest feature film, following Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).
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"Roma" is the Spanish word for love "amor" spelled backwards.
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The film premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival in August 2018.
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Alfonso Cuarón's first film since Gravity (2013).
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The film had its North American premiere at TIFF in Toronto in September 2018.
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Alfonso Cuarón's eighth feature film.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

As of 2018, the real Cleo, Liboria Rodríguez (Libo), is still alive and still part of Alfonso Cuarón's family, or Alfonso Cuarón's family is still part of Cleo's life. She has made cameos or brief appearances in several of his previous films, including Y Tu Mamá También (2001) in a scene where she brings Diego Luna a sandwich.
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According to Alfonso Cuarón, the significance of opening the movie with an airplane flying across the sky, reflected in a puddle of water, was to use the planes as a symbol of a transient situation and stating that there's a universe that is broader than the life that these characters have.
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The movie depicts "El Halconazo," or the Corpus Christi Massacre of 1971, in the scene where Cleo and Teresa go to the furniture store to buy a crib. The government sent CIA-trained Mexican soldiers to repress a student protest. At first, the soldiers charged the students with kendo sticks, like the ones Fermin and his group are training with, but they escalated to using firearms and killing the students. The government claimed the attackers were students to discredit their movement. Cuarón rehearsed the scene for weeks with all the extras on a football field.
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The last scene of Roma as written in the screenplay: "The patio, in shadows now, floats in the afternoon quiet. Borras sleeps and the parakeets are quiet. Only the hum of the city in the distance. Cleo comes out of the kitchen carrying her load of dirty laundry and crosses the tiny patio to go up the metal staircase that leads to the roof. Her steps reverberate throughout the bony structure in a metallic moan that echoes through the tiny patio, waking the caged birds. Cleo reaches the step in front of her room and keeps walking upwards. A sweet potato vendor lets out his sad howl in the distance. Step by step, Cleo ascends. Yet further up, beyond the roof, the sky is pure."
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When Yalitza Aparicio met Libo, the person Cleo was based on, at first, Libo never told Aparicio anything about her life that was going to happen in the film, only things that happened to her before the film starts. So after the birth scene, Aparicio cried non-stop.
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Even though the special effects work in Roma is virtually invisible, the majority of the film involves some degree of visual effects work. For instance, the extended tracking shot when the family's housekeeper, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), watches the family's kids at the beach as they charge into the water, then rushes into the pounding waves when two of the smaller children appear to be struggling. Cuaron presents the sequence as if it is one uninterrupted shot. But to achieve that appearance, several shots had to be stitched together and the whole setting digitally manipulated. Several different takes of Cleo rescuing the children were involved, and some takes of the children were re-positioned. Certain views of the sky also were replaced. Cuaron also requested that the height of the water be adjusted so that it would look deeper. In effect, Cuaron was following in the footsteps of his frequent cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, who filmed Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) as if the entire movie were filmed in one continuous take. Throughout the film, other digital tweaks were made. The neighborhood surrounding the family's home required a lot of blue-screen work to eliminate any modern sights and to extend the street on which the home sits into the distance.
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The song that the character Ove Larsen (Kjartan Halvorsen), dressed as a pagan forest monster, sings at the end of the fire scene is a nostalgic Norwegian song, which may be used for the Nyttårsbukk "trick or treat" ritual on New Year's Eve. Kjartan Halvorsen has said that he suggested the song choice. He is a professor in Mexico City and was recruited for the film at a party at the Norwegian embassy.
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Yalitza Aparicio, like Cleo, didn't know how to swim.
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The film has several nods to Cuarón's earlier work. The film-within-a-film that features two astronauts (Marooned (1969)) is very similar to Gravity (2013). The childbirth scene is somewhat similar to the childbirth scene in Children of Men (2006), with both scenes generating suspense about whether the newborn will survive. And the scene in which the mother tells her children that their father has abandoned the family is set in an outdoor beachside bar nearly identical to the one near the end of Y Tu Mamá También (2001).
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In the scene where Cleo is in a furniture store to shop for a crib and has an encounter with her former lover Fermín, his shirt has one of the famous 'Love is...' cartoons on it. Being a meaningful and emotional costume choice in reference to their relationship, it reads 'amor es... recordar tu primer beso' ('Love is... remembering your first kiss').
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For Alfonso Cuarón, in the scene where the father enters the house with his car in such a maneuver, like very being precise and taking so much care and detail, was a symbol in itself. The car is the symbol of a crown and the precision in filming this entrance announces that the king has arrived. The car also becomes a symbol of the presence of the man. Likewise the reason why the mom, Sofia, crashes the car, is not necessarily because she is a bad driver, it's because what that car means.
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The credits end by displaying the words "Shantih Shantih Shantih." Children of Men (2006) featured this mantra in its dialogue, and its closing credits also ended with these words being displayed.
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The two abandonments in the film are juxtaposed and parallel. In one scene, Antonio leaves home, claiming he will only be away for a few weeks. (As we later discover, he is abandoning his family.) In the very next scene, Fermín walks out on Cleo in the cinema, claiming he is only going to the bathroom. Likewise, it soon becomes clear he has abandoned her with the unborn child he fathered.
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The closing credits of Roma ends with a mantra from Upanishads: "Shantih Shantih Shantih." It is a formal ending to an Upanishad. T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land' also ends in Sanskrit: "Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. / Shantih shantih shantih". Cleo M. Kearns, a modern literature scholar, analyzes the ending of the poem as such which may echo with the aesthetics of Roma: "As mantra, shantih conveys ... the peace inherent in its inner sound....As a closing prayer, shantih makes of what comes before it a communal as well as a private utterance....And as the 'formal ending of an Upanishad' it revises the whole poem from a statement of modern malaise into a sacred and prophetic discourse."
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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