A Soviet director travels to Mexico to make a film, and in the process becomes an artist. That’s the story of cinematic pioneer Sergei Eisenstein, best known as the godfather of the montage. And earlier this year, two Antwerp museums — Extra City and MuHKA — paid homage to the director’s Mexican Drawings, uncovering never-before-seen work in the process. magazine sat down with the curators, to find out exactly how the journey changed the artist.
So we’ll admit we get a late pass on this one, but when we came across this story in May’s Modern Painters, we couldn’t help but share it. The exhibitions are over, but there’s still great stuff on the web — including the magazine’s interview with the shows’ curators. After all, film and travel are what we love here at Museyon…
Here’s the backstory: In 1930, Eisenstein was invited by some Hollywood bigwigs to come to the U.S. to shoot a film. Unable to deal with their demands, Eisenstein joined forces with writer Upton Sinclair and went to Mexico to film ¡Que viva México! his epic episodic history of Mexico. He never got a chance to finish what many consider to be his greatest work. But while in Mexico, he started running with the cool crowd — painters like Frida Kahlo and the famed “Mexican muralists” Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco and David Siqueiros — and had a creative awakening.
The film has made its way online, in an edited version believed to be close to what the director had originally intended. After an intro from Eisenstein’s assistant on the trip, the director Grigory Alexandrov, it stats at the 5-minute mark:
In Museyon’s guide to Film + Travel, Enrique Ramirez is your guide to Mexico City. Join him as he explores the same streets that so inspired Eisenstein, including a stop Casa Azul, at the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Today, it’s the Museo Frida Kahlo.
Image: Sergei Eisenstein, ¡Que viva México!, 1932. Courtesy Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen.