Movies are meant to be entertaining, but they can also be educational. People are naturally curious to know how much of what they see on their screens might be historically true. In Latin American History at the Movies, experts on Latin America focus on five centuries of history as portrayed in feature films. An introduction on the visual presentation of the past in movies sets the stage for essays that explore sixteen of the best feature films on Latin America made from the 1980s to the present.
Donald F. Stevens is professor emeritus of history at Drexel University. His books include Mexico in the Time of Cholera.
Chapter 1: Jaguar Paw’s World: Thoughts on Apocalypto and Mesoamerican History
Chapter 2: Whose Conquest Is This, Anyway?: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Thomas H. Holloway
Chapter 3: I, the Worst of All: The Literary Life of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Susan Elizabeth Ramirez
Chapter 4: A French Comedy, the Inquisition, Dirty Dancing, and a Sociopath: Hidalgo—La Historia Jamás Contada
Donald F. Stevens
Chapter 5: Passion and Patriarchy in Nineteenth-Century Argentina: María Luisa Bemberg’s Camila
Chapter 6: In Search of a New Ecology: Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent in the Age of Climate Crisis
Daniel O. Mosquera
Chapter 7: History, Autobiography, and Truth in Euzhan Palcy’s
Chapter 8: From Gap Year Hijinks to Collectivist Awakenings: Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries in Fact and Fiction
Thomas C. Field Jr.
Chapter 9: Kidnappings of Diplomats and Revolutionary Politics in Authoritarian Brazil: The Tale of Two Films, Four Days in September and Marighella
James N. Green
Chapter 10: “If You Don’t Cheat, You’ll Face Defeat: La Ley de Herodes, Corruption, and Authoritarianism in Mexico
Jürgen Buchenau and Madison Green
Chapter 11: National Politics, Intimate Labor: The Work to Sustain Middle-Class Households in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma
Susie S. Porter
Chapter 12: “How Historical Are You Trying to Be?”: Romero
Chapter 13: Salvador: Oliver Stone’s Odyssey through the First Year of El Salvador’s Civil War
Chapter 14: The Dancer Upstairs and the Hunt for Sendero Luminoso’s Presidente Gonzalo
Susan Elizabeth Ramírez
Chapter 15: También la Lluvia: Screening Resistance to Columbus and Bolivia’s Anti-Neoliberal Water War
Leo J. Garofalo
About the Contributors
I am inspired to create a Latin American film course using this anthology! It’s perfect for the classroom. The excellent selection of films presents a wide range of pressing Latin American issues in provocative ways. This is a unique anthology in which experts in the field of Latin American history analyze and evaluate films in depth with cultural and historical context.
I have always thought of Latin America as a big, fat telenovela in which we are all overwrought characters. This book offers a more measured version of it, with Lope de Aguirre, Sor Juana, Che Guevara, and Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero eating popcorn and crying crocodile tears together.
This is much more than a welcome update to Donald Stevens’s first important collection. It is a veritable new volume, with an array of recent films—from Apocalypto to Roma—under scrutiny and filled with essays brimming with insight and analysis. This volume should become a standard reference point for teachers and researchers of Latin American history and film.