Scenes from El Mural, by Héctor Olivera [Argentina/Mexico, 2010]

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Veteran Argentinean director Héctor Olivera created this biopic of a famous Mexican-born painter, David Alfaro Siqueiros. The film is set in the early 20th century when his close friend in Buenos Aires invites him over. A staunch idealist and believer in art for the public ends up accepting a commission to paint a private mural for one of the most powerful newspaper barons in Argentinia.

The film covers the period during which he’s involved in this project – a period of political upheaval all around the world, let alone Argentina, a period also when some important changes happen in his life. Biopics are by their very nature subjective – Sr. Olivera tries hard to stay as nuetral as he could to give a dispassionate account of Siqueiros’ time in Argentina. It’s an interesting film, if only to offer a glimpse into Argentina’s politics during the momentous period when things were happening in Germany and Italy, and the world was preparing itself for another pounding. Among the DVD extras was a very interesting insight into the making of the film with candid interviews from the cast and a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the filming itself…

Clip 1:
Assigned to paint a mural for newspaper baron Natalio Botana’s smoking room, Siqueiros sets about creating his masterpiece, using his wife Blanca, played by Carla Peterson as his model – it was also meant to be a tribute to his love for his wife. This scene shows the love in their marriage is already fading away – she leaves the studio enraged, and allows herself to be groped by their client Botana in his reading room.
Carla Peterson in El Mural

Clip 2:
Newspaper baron Botana’s wife Salvadora, played by Ana Celentano, lives a very unhappy life indeed – merely tolerated by her husband, for among other things – her leftist leanings, and loathed by her children, she ends up using a servant to spy on her husband. When he reports back with news that Botana is having an affair with the artist’s wife, Ana orders him to give her the explicit details, after which – things happen – worse, her already hateful son gets to see them in the act…
Ana Celentano in El Mural

Clip 3:
Sequeiros too learns that his wife, Carla Peterson is having an affair with his client Botana. Having just finished the mural, he curses her when Carla arrives – and asks if he was looking for her. He treats her in the only way he could then – as a whore. In the later part of the clip Sequeiros makes love to his wife for the last time knowing that she will no longer be his – Carla exclaims in ecstasy that it was just like the good old times – Sequeiros could only laugh at the irony…
Carla Peterson in El Mural



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