- Responding to Roger Ebert’s reviews
- T/F Film Fest
- About Vox
By Hannah Burkett
The filmmakers behind Canícula were so devoted to their work that one sat in a tree for six hours to get one of the most beautiful shots in the entire documentary: four boys climbing to the top of a tree and then falling with ropes tied around their waists as they gracefully circle around the pole on the descent.
Everything in the documentary is visually appealing, from the simple shots of Mexico’s landscape to the crowded dance floor in the village of Zapotal. Canícula, directed by Jose Álvarez, is a study of the Totonac settlement, Zapotal in Santa Cruz. The Totonac people are an American Indian population in east-central Mexico. The documentary is an anthropological look at this culture without using a scientific tone. Through the use of stunning visuals and music straight from Zapotal, Álvarez entices the audience into a traditional vision of Mexico.
Canícula translates to “hot sun,” which refers to a period of extremely hot days during the summer months, but the subjects are completely comfortable in the heat. The use of sunlit shots and golden backlighting is a constant reminder to the audience of the hot weather.
The style of filming is what truly makes the film stand out. Each frame holds a purpose, mixing vibrant colors with simple, full-frame shots. Scenes of handmade pottery and the Totonac religious traditions are contrasted against shots of pickup trucks or a boy riding a motorbike with a megaphone blaring a Latin groove. This is where the true purpose of the movie is seen best: the tension between preserving tradition and adapting to modernity.
Beyond these contrasting images, the film doesn’t follow any archetypal plot structure. This works well for the documentary because this project is not focused around an event. Instead, it is a look at a culture and how it preserves tradition against a world becoming more modern with time.
Instead of removing scenes of children staring into the camera, questioning what the cameraman is doing, Álvarez left them in. Leaving these images adds a simplistic quality to the film that continues to pull the reader into the Totonac culture and away from the modern world. These hardly detract from the documentary but add to the overlying theme of old versus new.
The music of the documentary ties the entire picture together. The soundtrack came directly from Zapotal and was recorded on sight. The music brings an emotional rawness to the film that connects the audience to a world they will probably never know.
All in all, Álvarez does an excellent job of using imagery to take the audience beyond the conflicted image of Mexico and into a small village intent on preserving its culture.
Vox Rating: VVV
Like Vox on Facebook
- No public Twitter messages.
What we’re chatting aboutart books Columbia Community CoMo dessert Documentaries Documentary downtown downtown Columbia Fashion film Films food Harry Potter Missouri Mizzou movie movies MU music news playlist Ragtag Recipe Recipes restaurants review Shopping social media T/F T/F film fest T/F Film Festival television The Blue Note True/False True/False Film Fest True/False Film Festival True False True False Film Fest TV Twitter vox VVV VVVV
- Vada Quaker on 5 Lessons to be learned from Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake
- Lesley on Ryan Ferguson has new website, girlfriend?
- William Riley-Land on ABC Chinese Cuisine opens next to Hong Kong Market in Columbia
- Andy on José Jalapeños opens in Columbia
- Red_Joker on Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” is Rather Unremarkable