Friday, May 16, 2008

cineREACTIONrant UNO: Re-Imagining the Nation--Maria Novaro and the Textualization of the "Mexican"

I just started teaching a very cool group of undergraduates at UCRiverside in a course on Mexican Cinema entitled Imagining the Nation. This crack squad of 37 academic souls needs a place to write their responses to María Novaro's Danzón while I am sorting out my UC blackboard privileges and this is as good a place as any. Let me ask that none of my regular or lurking Tex[t]-Mex Galleryblog readers leave a comment on this entry as it is reserved for students in my class.

Here is your the first Imagining the Nation response prompt from yours truly....

1. Watch the following María Novaro Sin Dejar Huella (2000) YouTube video carefully; watch it once with the sound on, and once with the sound off; it really does not matter whether you have command of Spanish (or English, for that matter) in screening this clip! The key is to watch closely. Here's the clip:

Having watched this trailer for Novaro's more recent cinematic project, and having carefully screened/watched/devoured Danzón, write a two to three paragraph rant/critique as a "comment" by clicking the comment link below. In your rant, identify elements of Novaro's cinematic eye (techniques, themes, ideas, tendencies) that remain constant from the period of Danzón to that of Sin Dejar Huella; if you have the time and desire, also briefly outline those elements of her work that have evolved or changed. If, for whatever reason, the YouTube video above does not work on your system, merely write a two to three paragraph response that analyzes what you deem to be THE pivotal scene of Danzón.

note: UCR students--it is essential that you leave your name on your comment below; if, for privacy reasons, you wish to leave your name off the blog, merely leave your initials--I will be able to identify you from the roster.

ps: let's not bring laptops to class anymore unless you have a medical issue and note from your doctor! gracias!!!


  1. This is the first comment, being left here by Bill Nericcio, to ensure that, indeed! it is possible to leave anonymous comments! best of luck with your rants! Bill

  2. What I found interesting is that I found many similarities between seeing the entire film of, Danzón, and just merely viewing a short introduction clip of Novaro’s new film, Sin Dejar Huella. The parallel that I have noticed was that Novaro continues to use many up-close camera angles to view the women’s facial features and expressions. I believe this is important because as for being a woman, I express a lot of my emotions through my eyes. In the movie, Danzón, Novaro uses close up camera shots to view Julia’s eyes when she is watching her new lover pass by on a boat. Her eyes express her new curiosity and shyness for a new, young, and more attractive man. Again, I saw the same technique used with her new film. I saw a close-up of the protagonist’s eyes, which I am guessing she is demonstrating an emotion with her eyes of a seductive curiosity for the figure in front of her.
    It seems that the similar theme I noticed between the two movies was abandonment. In Danzón, Julia is left without any “male authority,” instead she seeks out for one and in the quick clip of Navaro’s new movie, I noticed the protagonist walking across the street by herself with caring a baby and a couple of bags as if she is randomly traveling alone throughout different places. The theme of independence of the women is consistent within her films. Even though, in the sixth chapter of Elissa Rashkin book, “Women Filmmakers of México,” Rashkin explains how during an interview, Novaro explains how her feminist views are not expressed through her work. I would have to disagree with her because I find many feminist elements throughout her films. In her films I see, especially in Danzón how the main character Julia is portrayed as an independent soul-searcher that travels and accommodates herself through travel without any help from a man. Also, she is economically capable of taking care of herself and her daughter by working.
    Furthermore, another element that I spotted that was similar between the two was that Novaro enjoys focusing on signs or displays that portray an interesting and meaningful message. For example, in Danzón, the phrases that are displayed on the boats express romantic ironic sad titles of songs or “dichos.” I saw the same pattern in her new movie, Novaro focuses on a street sign that displays a message, “No Hay Retorno,” which means there is no return. The camera focuses on this sign while the protagonist drives through a secluded area. These are the few things I have seen similar between the film and the short clip of Novaro’s new film.

  3. sabes que? if i wanted to see a mexican melodrama about mujeres and their problemas with other men, i would visit my family in Los Angeles. It wouldn't be hard because nowadays everyone lives under one roof.
    Haha but what was mas chingon is that these mujeres had guns. In comparison with what i have seen in my family and in trying to understand how my parents raised me in comparison to mis primos, i recognize that the female presence is an important one. But some women lack "ganas". They never teach their daughters to stand up for themselves or how to be a mujer. No, they are subjected to the same cultural acceptance passed down from mothre to mother. that a woman shows respect, is silent, follows her husbands says even if she knows he is wrong. This is what is wrong. This culturally subliminal indoctrination. Women should say what they feel and do what they want. This may sound cliche, but as a young boy raised by his mother who suffered the hardships of her mother who was raised old-fashioned, my mother did not want to transcend this attitude towards women. She taught me to respect women, especially her, because when i didnt she gave me a pinche chanclaso and said "Sigues cabron y vas aver!"
    and thats how my mother demonstrated to me how women were powerful.It may be flawed but it worked for me.
    Danzon was feminine as everyone had stated. Not my taste but something my mother would have liked.

  4. lovely work--good eye, with excellent and nuanced focus on detail. well done! ciao, bill

  5. One thing that I noticed in both Danzón and Sin Dejar Huella is that Novaro upholds this idea of “Mexicaness” by having social and political issues that are relatable to the people of Mexico. For instance, correct me if I’m wrong, there was a scene in Danzón when the working women were talking about being cautious while being alone at night otherwise one might get raped. This of course not long after becomes a serious issue for women in Juarez working late night shifts at the maquiladora. The first shot of Sin Dejar Huella we see in the film clip is of the woman character climbing through a chain linked fence which of course is referring to the issue of immigration. Although they both don’t seem like important aspects concerning the plot of the film, Novaro subtly adds these issues in the foreground to remind everyone.
    Another similarity I noticed between the two films is the picture on the cover of the movie. Danzón features a female figure pictured from only her waist down in a short red dress in what can only be assumed that she is staring off into the distance towards the ocean. Sin Dejar Huella also features a female figure in vibrant red clothing staring off into the distance. This suggests that for both films these women will face some sort of journey. Also, being that they are wearing red, red being the color symbolizing love, romance, a sexual single woman, it suggests that these two women will be facing similar issues.
    A difference that I noticed between the two films is their genres. Danzón is the traditional “womens picture” melodrama with love, romance, and all that stuff men do not care to see. Which is exactly what Nic says in his response when he states “Not my taste but something my mother would have liked.” On the other hand, Sin Dejar Huella contains the love and romance but adds that Thelma and Louise action into it complete with guns and car chases. Perhaps this shift to action-packed is not only to make it more Hollywood but also to make it into a film that not only mothers would like.

  6. I noticed some similarities between Danzon and this short video clip from Sin Dejar Huella. The color red is a major visual component that we see in both films. The title of Sin Dejar Huella is in sticking bold red letters as well as the protagonists red shirt in the cover. The color red also pops out in the cover of Danzon. We see a bright red high heel in front of ships and shining stars. In Danzon, we see Julia with lots of red, especially after Susy convinces to buy a new and falshier wardrobe. It is with this new red oufit that Julia acapara toda la atencion and feels most attractive and comfortable.
    I think the title Sin Dejar Huella can also be related to Danzon because huellas are foot prints that you dont want to leave behind if you are trying to escape danger. Contrary to Sin Dejar Huella, Danzon does leave a footmark not only in the cover of the film but in the eyes of the audience. The film begins with a close up of the heels and ends in a similar way.
    There are a lot of close ups in the short video clip that mainly focus on the womens faces. Through these close ups we see different emotions such as happiness and fear and also worry. We only see a close up on a mans face, a face that projects danger. It seems as though these women are tyring to escape the dangerous men. Unlike Danzon, the women are looking for men. These men are not seen as dangerous individuals, in fact they are potrayed as loving, funny and even homosexual individuals.

  7. It is clearly evident that María Novaro focuses on the essence of women in both Danzón and Sin Dejar Huella. What I noticed about Sin Dejar Huella is that the main character is running away from something or someone, through the car chase scene and the woman going under the fence with all her belongings. In Danzón, Julia goes to Vera Cruz to find Carmelo, but in turn learns more about herself and what she truly desires. In both films, the women are taken out of their element, their nature, their homes and take the audience through a journey into discovering themselves as a character.
    Also, in both films, the main focal point is about the women. Here, they are not placed in the background like the other films we have watched like El Compadre Mendoza and El Castillo de la Pureza. Instead, they are placed in the foreground, giving them a sense of empowerment and ultimately, importance. In one of the clips of Sin Dejar Huella, one of the women is holding a gun. That in itself gives these women a dominant, influencial attitude. In Danzón, Julia does not use a gun, but rather her sexuality as a form of power. Right when she gets off the train and arrives in Veracruz all heads turn and watches her as she walks. Another instance was when she walked down the boardwalk to find Carmelo. She was wearing this vibrant red dress to match her glowing red lips. I thought she was seen as exotic and reminded me of how people look at the Queen of England, for example, as she walks by and everyone admires her beauty and demeanor.
    What I also noticed in both films is the job of the mother. Julia is a mother to a teenager and in a clip of Sin Dejar Huella, we see one of the women caring a child in her arms. I think Novaro does this on purpose, so we don’t forget that stereotype of women ONLY being mothers. But Novaro adds on to this role as a mother and places the role of being a woman; falling in love, making mistakes, finding yourself.

  8. I found the movie Danzon to be regular at best. I don’t know if it was something I was expecting from previous discussions and readings but I was expecting something a little more on the radical side. Having heard of Maria Novaro’s feminist points of views, I was expecting some controversial action in the movie. I thought the movie was plain and I feel that Maria could have gone a lot farther in her point of view. I think a lot of this has to do with the reason that maybe Maria felt a little obligated to oblige to the strict society norms that construct Mexican culture. In this machista culture maybe Maria was trying to produce something that would create a conversation but not a revolution. We have to remember that maybe Maria was trying to create a piece of work that would be accepted by all, including all the machos that give her approval of the movie production and its costs. Although the movie does display many feminist themes, I would like to say that the movie came short of realizing the ideal strong feminist Mexico needs.
    By, Gerardo Escobedo

  9. In viewing both Navarro’s films Danzón and Sin Dejar Huella. I noticed some similarities in regards to the two. One central theme that seems to demonstrated through the short clip of Sin Dejar Huella is the idea of an independent woman who seeks to find answers to whatever may be troubling her, similarly in Danzón, Julia is depicted as this independent woman who is seeking to find answers to where Carmelo may be, and embarks on an adventure entirely out of her nature. It seems that in both films Navarro is focusing on the issues such as woman’s loneliness, however, instead of creating characters that any typical “Mexican” film would create (i.e. fragile, men-abiding, kind of women) Navarro tries to alter this idea and form strong-willed women, that as Professor Nericcio commented in class the other day, have “balls”. Furthermore, another similarity found between both films, is the use of various close-ups. In Danzon, there was many close-ups of Julia, revealing the immensity of the emotion that she was feeling at that time. Similarly in Sin Dejar Huella, the few instances that were shown of the main character also seemed to express her emotions through close-up angles, which seem to reveal her concerns and worries, as well as her determination to fulfill her journey.
    Another similarity between the two films, as Rashkin has pointed out, “[Navarro’s] use of [the color red] reinforces s the link between passion and masquerade and posits desire as a kind of free existent free-floating quality as well as a force belonging to or felt by individuals” (173). In Danzón, Julia’s “artist friend” Susy, dresses yo Julia to a red dress, red earrings, and red lipstick. All of which are new to Julia, and makes her think she looks like a whore. However, the outfit instead encourages Julia to embark and continue her journey of finding Carmelo, and at the same time she ends up gaining confidence in herself, that she otherwise lacked. It seems that the color indeed was the “link” between her “passion: of finding Carmelo, and her “masquerade” as this entirely different woman, completely independent and confident. Whereas, in Sin Dejar Huella the color red is depicted through the shirt of the main character, as she is displayed on the film’s cover. Here, the color seems to depict a determined, independent woman, with her hands on her waist, commanding her look into the horizon.

  10. One of the first things that caught my attention while watching Danzon was that under the direction of Maria Navaro there were alot more shots that included movement of the camera. The use of a dolly enabled the lenght of each scene to still be able to sustain the attention of the audience. Although the story was somewhat slowly paced, the use of camera movement--dolly,tracking, and zoom allowed the search for the main characters lover to be more entertaining. I believe the pivotal point in the film was the shot of the painting that had a train traveling in the picture and then slowly panned and zoomed out to the shot of the woman on an actual train travelling far from home to Veracruz. The fact that she is in a an unfamiliar place the remainder of the film leads me to believe that the shot of her on the train is a sign of her being willing to endure the unfamiliar region by herself in the search of her lover.

    While watching the clip of the trailor for a more recent project by Maria Navarro, I was captivated by the amount of cutts that took place. I believe this was done to put an emphasis on the action and suspense thats created by the storyline of the film. The direction of photograpgy in Danzon and from the shots that I have seen in the trailor so far are well done and allow the viewer to understand the feelings that are created within certain spaces. The shots in Danzon include a detailed misc-en-sen that allows the viewer to make certain connections. One of my personal favorites was the shot of the tug boat rocking back and forth that occured in the film both before they got onto the boat and while they were in the boat.

    UCR Student

  11. Danzón was an interesting movie. At first it did not capture my attention. I am used to fast paced movie that this one with it long shots, took me a second to get into it. Yet, I still do not know if I like. In my day and time the feminist movie theme has been done that some parts were cliché for me. As I look back into the history of the movie it was the turning point of film making in Mexico.
    Some themes that I notice being played out were nudity. Like most films I have encountered this quarter female nudity seemed to be the norm. The fact that these films were older displayed the mindset of many filmmakers in Mexico at that time. Danzón definitely broke this stereotype by not showing female nudity. It mainly showed male nudity with Ruben asleep half covered. There were also shots of Susy getting dressed and disrobing. Novaro changes the gender roles in this film without making the female characters masculine.
    Another character I noticed was doña Ti. I felt she possessed what Julia wanted in her life. Dona Ti was dominating. She ran the hotel, had power over men, lived by her own rules in a male dominated Veracruz, all while being feminine. In the reading Rashkin comments on gender relations of doña Ti, “Yet, Julia’s commitment to traditional gender relations on the floor is constantly undermined by the other social interactions captured by Novaro’s camera…A shot of the male hotel porter holding a bottle of polish while doña Ti paints her nails.”(Rashkin, 6) This scene reminds me of Samantha from Sex and the City because of doña Ti’s use of men. I see her as an evolved woman that does not need a man for anything unless she specifically wants him. Novaro’s representation to doña Ti is the counterpart to the typical male role.
    After viewing the preview of Sin Dejar Huella, I noticed these women very much like doña Ti except they were guns. As a matter of fact I would not be surprised if doña Ti owned a gun. I can tell Sin Dejar Huella is a film about women with male fallacies. Ha!

  12. I was keeping in mind the progression of feminism while watching the film Danzon. In the beginning of the film, I was wondering how on earth this film could possibly be feminist. The main character, Julia, was extremely emotional and her emotions were dependent on this guy Carmelo. As her friends were saying, she was probably going through menopause.
    However, after a while, as the film progressed, I could see how the film represented the feminist progression and the beginning of feminism in films. As the movie goes on, Julia finally starts to become independent. Traditional thoughts are broken. For example, her closest friend at Veracruz happens to be a drag queen; which was completely out of the norm, especially in the 60’s. Julia has a fling with a younger man while in the beginning, before her change, she said she would never even dance with a younger man. The traditional norms are challenged. Julia becomes this independent, woman-power woman and when she finally changes, that is when her man Carmelo comes back.

  13. After viewing the film, Danzon, and the small clip of Maria Novaro’s new film, Sin Dejar Huella, I found many similarities between each of them. One thing that I did notice instantly after viewing the clip on YouTube, was that both films dealt with a feminist movement. In the film Danzon, we view a woman trying to find a man whom she claims is the right man for her, yet throughout her journey, she does not find him and literally makes a fool after herself. The reason for why I critic and say that she makes a fool of herself is, because at the conclusion of the film, her mystery lover appears with a wedding band on his finger. Throughout the entire movie, Julia critics her friends and looks at them in a manner in which she is allowing the audience to know that she is not okay with her fellow co-workers and friends dancing and dating guys that are married. However, at the end of the film, we find that Julia is doing the same thing as her friends; she is in love with a married man. Overall, Julia, as already known, is a female and the main character in the film, which doesn’t give off the best image of women these days. For instance, she becomes involved with a younger male and tricks him into loving her. This does not portray a pretty picture of what Mexican women truly are. The typical Mexican woman is the one that stays home, watches her children all day, cleans the home and has food on the table at all times, especially for her spouse. Yet, Julia does the exact opposite, as she leaves her daughter behind to find a man, goes to a new place in which is not familiar with any other human being there and has a relationship with a man as young as her daughter. In the film, Julia also wears a red dress, which for me signifies attractiveness and the need for more than just one companion. Just like Julia, many of the elements mentioned above are very similar to the ones in the clip of Sin Dejar Huella.
    From the clip of Sin Dejar Huella, I found that this film was also based on a sole character who appears to also be a woman. This woman, like Julia, is no ordinary Mexican female. She also wears a red dress, which once again to me, signifies attractiveness and calls for attention. Also, after viewing the short clip I saw that the woman was involved with more than just one male partner. The female character is viewed kissing more than just one male and is also found traveling. The clip, gives the audience or just me, the sense that she is running from her romantic problems or is just running so that she won’t have to deal with the issues that she has with these two male figures. In addition, like Julia, I found that the woman in the clip of Sin Dejar Huella, carries this face image throughout the film which signifies fear. The woman in the film appears to be afraid at many times and one can tell due to her face expressions. Although, the woman seems to be able to care for herself, she, like Julia, does not portray the image of your typical Mexican woman, who is known is depend on the male figure or at least in the older days that is.

    Christina Soto

  14. The Similarities between Danzón and Sin Dejar Huella are the up close camera angles. For example, the facial expressions by Novaro give the characters eyes as a source of emotion. Also Novaro uses the long shot successfully during the train ride, as she had the camera directly in front of the picture of a train which was located in the train.
    Independent women become a major character throughout both movies, in Danzón, there are women located on the streets and walking around with a purpose. This resembles women that are taking control of their own lives, and are trying to pursue the male figure. As for the movie Sin Dejar Huella, there was a scene when a woman was carrying a child on the side of the road with luggage’s it represents a single mother trying to find a better lifestyle for her and her child. In Danzón, the character Julia goes on with her life being independent and uses traveling as an element of comfort and enough distraction to not think about the male figure as a source of happiness for her. I agree with Kamille on the fact that women are stereotyped to only stay home, take care of the children, cook, clean, and serve to the husband or the male figure. By Novaro giving women a sense of character with determination, shows her effort to try to make a point across about women and how they are negatively portrayed through the screen. As we have seen in past films, women are seen as objects with no emotions or character and are used as a source of happiness by the male figure for a sexual satisfaction or personal needs, for example, cleaning and taking care of the children.
    The difference between Danzón and Sin Dejar Huella would be the genre. In Danzón Novaro uses love and romance to attract the audience, which was more powerful, effective, and understandable towards the female audience. Even though Danzón was an excellent movie, the male figure did not have much to relate to as we would towards Sin Dejar Huella, which had similar melodrama that included violence and action that men would be intrigued by, instead of love stories that always have the same endings.

  15. The film Danzón directed by Maria Novaro in conjunction with cinematographer Rodrigo Garcia incorporates multiple levels of meaning through its use of symbolism, strong feminist message and history of cinema. Despite the fact that the film Danzón initially comes off as being a chick flick that tells a story about a woman who goes off to find her soul-mate and finally re-unites with him after an exciting adventure it proves otherwise after close analysis. The role playing in the film challenges the traditional cinematic roles of women through Julia’s character who goes off to Veracruz in search for something more than her dancing partner. The patriarchal figure in the film is absent and instead the spectator is presented with a series of characters that do not necessarily fit the customary macho man. Novaro evidently incorporates many feminist elements in the film such as Julia’s ability to put her happiness first before anything else not necessarily meaning that she neglects everything else. Although at times the feminist message in the film is blurred especially within the concluding scene, the overall look of it places agency on the female figure. In many instances the camera had a tendency to focus in on Julia’s face allowing the spectator to see through the eyes of this woman who was not only passionate about dance but also strong and willing to look for that something else in her life. The long shots of the train during Julia’s arrival to Veracruz and that of the names printed on the boats in the port tell a lot about Nocaro’s and Garcia of focusing in purposely on things that have great significance to story and characters role.
    Having watched the short trailer for the film Sin Dejar Huella released 9 years later than Danzón I noticed a series of similarities especially in themes. Adventure, mobility and risk- taking women come to mind when watching the trailer as not only the women seem to be the protagonist but also the strong figures. The women leave behind past in search for something new (assumption) as was the case of Julia who confronted a series of obstacles which allowed her to experience that something she always wanted. Novaro seems to purposely incorporate recurring themes as well as techniques to evoke her point and challenge role playing in film.

    Sonia Pena

  16. Danzon, directed by Maria Novaro, has both feminine and feminist qualities which seem to be contradictory at times. I read the film as trying to defunct the macho male role in order to show that femininity should not equal weakness. Julia, the main character, is in search of a lost dance partner whom she has won many competitions with. In this instance, the formal dance of Danzon mirrors the relationships and marriages in Mexico. Marriages, not just in Mexico but most of the world, are economic relationships as much as they are spiritual. Julia does not love Carmelo, the dance partner, but needs him to keep producing wins in Danzon trophies. The change Novaro brings is the notion that the man and woman should be equals in relationships. Julia realizes she cannot be with a younger man who does not know how to dance simply because she is attracted to him, but at the same time she knows she cannot win a Danzon competition by herself. At the end of the film, we see Carmelo with a wedding ring right before Julia decides to accept his offer to dance. Carmelo marriage does not mean that he is unfaithful, but rather it is a sign of commitment to move towards the equality of both sexes in Mexico.

    The trailer does not show enough to show changes in Novaro’s directing. The story seems to follow the Thelma and Louise plot in which two women are trying to run from the law. The fast cuts seem unnatural and are obvious snippets of longer scenes which are more the style of Novaro. The images immediately show some of the prominent representations of Mexico such as border crossing in the lady going through the fence, violence in the guns being drawn, and machismo in the two men chasing after the innocent (I am assuming they are) women.

  17. Michael D. Birnberg

    Danzon, in pace and mis-en-scene, is Novaro’s construction of a female ascetic that is in strict conceptual opposition to the male dominated cinema, as she sees it. Novaro creates a reality through Julia that is redemptive of the female spirit by manifesting an oppositional discourse to masculine representations through a slow, sensual, intimate, and curious camera. Close-ups of eyes that serve only to investigate the person’s space, rather than to dominate the narrative, as a male oriented film would, such as in an action film. Slow pans, and if I recall, deep focus, illuminate a texture in the mis-en-scene that manifests as an element so strongly that it could be called a sub-character within the film, the camera’s touch.

    Novaro opens the world of feminist liberation and empowerment to the audience slowly and at times abruptly. There is a natural progression of Julia’s character in blossoming, but at points there seem to be elements which are meant to shock, which I think do not serve the purpose of subtle transition and subconscious manipulation, but are angry protests to the wider social norms and mores that Novaro wants to eradicate. The inclusion of the transvestite, sex with the younger man and how he is represented in a traditional feminine way, and the discussion of menopause, all serve to protests contemporary constructs of morality and decency.

  18. After watching the film Danzon, directed by Maria Novaro, it is clear that there is a theme of feminism because the whole film is centered around a female protagonist who desires a Caramelo, is unsuccessful at finding him, and ends up finding herself instead. She finds out that she can go along fine without this guy, and even uses another young man for her sexual satisfaction.
    A symbol that figured throughout the film was the dancing. The protagonists passion for dance could be a symbol for her life as whole. In the beginning, she would dance with Caramelo and he would lead. Later in the film when she went to Veracruz, She was the one leading the transvestites in the dance. This is a symbolic of the way that she was leading her own life in Veracruz, and she did not need a man to help her. The only real man she interacted with was not even a good dancer.
    When looking at the trailer and the film, I do see some similarities and some differences. One similarity is that the protagonists are both female which implies that they are both feminist films. There were parts of the trailer in which the protagonist is very physical with escaping whoever is chasing her. She aggressively goes through the wire fence, participates in a high speed pursuit and has aggressive sex. In the film Danzon, we see a woman that becomes mentally strong in “losing” Caramelo, and the woman in this trailer also has strength, but in more of a physical way. From what is seen in the trailer, the new film by Novaro seems much more fast-paced and full of action. Donzon was the exact opposite.

    -Johanna Fajardo

  19. After last Thursday's class discussion I have a new found appreciation for Danzon. I had watched it from a blunt perspective never really paying attention to the messages being conveyed about the female . I also noticed that the camera played a tremendous role in portraying the liminality of Julia in her transition from a "world of mujeres" in Mexico City into this "outside world of men" in Veracruz.
    I found the male presence so conquering in Veracruz that even the women in that city were men.But there are two scenes that stand out. The first is when leaving the train station. As she walks to the hotel we see that there are no women in sight, only men, and they start to whistle and stare and say things to her. What stood out is how when she walks the colors she wears, they make her different, she stands out from the rest. Like a flower beginning to bloom and show its color.
    The next seen is when she goes down to the docks, again a very male dominated presence, but she is dressed in all red, a vibrant red como una rosa attracting bees. But the color red is like a symbol of passion, one that she discovers in her stay at Veracruz.
    Julia engages with a small fling with Ruben, the tug boat operator. We see the development, this "bildungsroman" as Julia becomes a mature middle-aged women and the reverse of Ruben. He looked very masculine and older with his long hair, but when he cuts his hair, he looks like a little boy, one who clings to his mothers leg similaras he does with Julia.
    The presence of sexuality and self construction, Julia is a woman no longer dominated by man, but she herself discovers the power to woe man and dispose of him as she sees fit.
    Overall this film had very good cinematic storytelling and the image of man and woman were intriguing as they broke from the socially accepted stereotypes of both male and female and created a rather truthful image for both man and women. But what made this film is the exploits of women and the evident control that Julia has over her life. She is in control, as should every women be of her own life.

  20. I will start of by saying that Novaro’s film was very interesting and entertaining for me. I enjoyed watching Danzon because it made the steps to learn how to dance Danzon more easily than what it looked like. I liked the way that Novaro used the cinematic techniques she used because it draws the viewer more to the film. With the close ups of the characters Novaro enables us to form like a more personal relationship with them. One thing that I did not understand was why would Julia go and look for him if she claimed not to love this Carmelo guy? At the end of the film, I seriously thought that they were going to kiss or something but to my contempt, they did not. Maybe that was the turn down of the film because as we watched the film we see how she was strongly decided to go and look for Carmelo leaving her daughter and job behind; how the film was structured and the situation built some hope for Julia and Carmelo to be together and for a moment it built some hope for Julia and Ruben to be together as well and forgetting her search for the tall, dark, handsome, fifty-year old guy she was so crazy about.

    Some of the similarities that I see in the short clip of Sin Dejar Huella and Danzon are that Novaro uses what I think now are the verdadera representacion de la mujer Mexicana. The women in these films look very desisivas. They are strong and able to sustain themselves with out help. They do not need a man or any one else to tell them what to do. They have their minds set and they do, as they want. In Sin dejar Huella we see a scene in which a woman is going under the fence and going into a car like if she is running away from someone or something. She is leaving everything behind and like one of my fellow peers said the theme of abandonment appears again in this film. I found the title of the film very interesting ‘Sin Dejar Huella’, I haven’t seen the film but I can guess that the women who leave never come back from where ever they left to supported by the sign that says “Sin Retorno” and that they don’t let anyone know where they might have left and in Danzon Julia apparently will not go back to Veracruz because she does not leave any message for Ruben or any suggestion that she will go back, it was just an adventure for her.

  21. Danzon by Maria Navaro was an interesting film, in that it seems to be a feminist film but also deals with the issue of the internal struggles between a “free” woman vs. tradition. This notion challenges the male dominated film industry that had been very prevalent in Mexican cinema historically. Women in film up to this point were very much portrayed in very specific roles. There was the traditional house wife, who was a good woman and was there for her man or husbands every needs, there was the native beautiful exotic woman, and also the port woman who was basically a prostitute and there was the idea of malinche character that betrayed what now is Mexico.
    In Danzon the main character Julia goes on a journey to find a man, but ends up breaking all conventional/traditional notions of a proper woman. She begins to exude confidence and has a fling, with a younger man. She basically uses the young man an leaves back to her home city, where her daughter and female friends are waiting for her.
    Watching the trailer for Sin Dejar Huella the same type of characteristics of strong confident woman going on a journey is shown. There are two main characters, obviously women who embark on “un camino sin retorno” a path or journey with no return. Again these characters challenge the common male hero in an action film.

    By: F.F.

  22. The feminist connotation of the film Danzón was of specific interest to me. The film began with a passive and stilted protagonist, but her character evolved to be that of an independent and confident women. What I take issue with are the reasons behind the transformation, specifically the positive qualities attributed to those reasons. For instance, sex was the mechanism by which Julia was in a sense rejuvenated. For a typical feminist, sex signifies oppression for women. An oppression placed by society and males on women to control their physical acts and also her will, allegedly. Valuing a woman for her virginity, or at least her lack of promiscuity, was a force of social repression. It is only after Julia sleeps with the young sailor that she is perceived as to having taken control of her sexuality and thus is in a form liberated; she is no longer a slave to religious and cultural expectations but rather a modern freethinking woman. The question to me then is, has Julia taken control of her sexual will or has it taken control of her? In other words, what is more admirable: Julia’s initiative to be a sexual being or, had she done so, her ability to exercise self-control and abstains from sexual activity? The movie seems to value the former rather than the latter, but I believe the opposite to be true. In this liberal period in American culture, my ideals may seem primitive, but they are nevertheless legitimate.
    The sex theme in the film was significant to me also because of what I perceived to be its contradicting role. For Julia, who chose to have sex, it represented freedom and control over her autonomy, but for the prostitutes of Veracruz sex was once again oppressing and demeaning. I do not believe that these difference were solely economical based. If Novaro esteems the power of sexual independence so highly, then a women having sex should be liberating on all fronts. Instead, the women prostituting were depicted as doing so as a result of life circumstances and not by choice. My question to the film than is when is sexual freedom empowering and when is it not? So far, the answer to me is a complete cop out. Women want to be able to be sexually promiscuous by choice, but when that liberty of sexual rendezvousing becomes a ‘job,’ thus it is no longer physically pleasurable, then women demand sympathy. It is too convenient.

  23. I enjoyed watching Danzón mainly because it was about a woman who was able to find her own space within a patriarchal system. I believe the film is illustrating the beginning of a feminism era as Novaro is able to redefine being a woman. Unlike the monolithic model of fitting the virgin/whore binary in the prior films we watched, Novaro successfully portrayed strong female characters/ characteristics who were able to survive on their own financially and find their own happiness without relying on men. Julia did not have to be a homemaker to fit the mother role because she passed down her values to her daughter to be self-sufficient. Furthermore, her character did not fit into the virgin/whore paradigm because she controlled her sexuality at will and was not punished for it in the narrative. Julia's journey to Veracruz reminded me of other films like Under the Tuscan Sun, where she found her own identity and gained confidence with the help of her friends (who were also strong women figures that relied on themselves).
    The pivotal scene was when Julia glamorously walked down the pier in her red dress, but she felt uncomfortable for the first time as men stared at her and a construction car followed her. She self-consciously wiped off her red lipstick because she thought it was too much. The scene reminds the audience that although she can be an independent, confident woman and dresses how she chooses, she still lives under an oppressive patriarchal society. I'm sure a lot of females can relate to this scene because even if a female wants to look her best, there is a cost in looking too nice because you might be "asking for it".
    In relation to Sin Dejar Huella, Novaro again uses a female protagonist in the narrative with themes of independence and journeys. The cinematic eye in techniques also is comparable to Danzón in showing lots of close-up shots of the female character and her sexuality. However, I think her work might have evolved to greater issues that women face today. The sign that said "no return" revealed that it is a journey she faces with scenes of escaping, money, single motherhood, blood, and oppressive looking male characters.

    Anna F