It’s Día de Muertos today, The Day of the Dead, and we could think of no better way to observe the occasion than to sing the praises of Roberto Gavaldón’s otherworldly parable, Macario (1960). Set against the backdrop of one of Mexico’s most holy days, the titular character, Macario, wants nothing but to enjoy a single extravagance without having to sacrifice his share for once. Being a good parable, our story won’t have that. He is set upon by the devil, god, and the personification of death himself, all asking for him to sacrifice a little of his luxury for their benefit. Does he make the right decision? We shall see.
Macario is a wonder of shadow and light. Gavaldón brings a well-developed noir sensibility to bear on this folk tale. And in that way of all clever and resourceful artists, finds a way to be subversive at the same time. Religion does not escape his skeptical gaze. Nor does humankind’s inherent greed, gullibility, and ambition. Using the cover of history, he makes centuries of inquisition immediate and relevant. Death is tempting and easy to look upon as a gift when daily life is little but toil and hunger. There has to be a reward waiting for us somewhere. Right? For the time being, look no further than this wondrous film.
What you’ll find in this episode: gifts for the dead, struggle for the living, sugar skulls, lace, bread, miracles, exposition, inquisition, and what not to do when your candle is burning low.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Macario on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Animal Farm.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Coco.
Visit the Day of the Dead exhibition at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin.
Visit Cine Las Americas, celebrating Latino and Indigenous cinema in the Americas.