Celluloid Nationalism and Other Melodramas

From Post-Revolutionary Mexico to fin de siglo Mexamerica

By Susan Dever

Subjects: Popular Culture
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory, SUNY series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video
Paperback : 9780791457641, 273 pages, July 2003
Hardcover : 9780791457634, 273 pages, July 2003

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations



Of Melodrama and Other Inspirations

Part I : Post-Revolutionary Mexico

1. Re-Birth of a Nation: On Mexican Movies, Museums, and María Félix

2. Las de abajo: Matilde Landeta's Mexican Revolution

3. Pimps, Prostitutes, and Politicos: Matilde Landeta's Trotacalles and the Regime of Miguel Alemán

Part II: Fin de Siglo Mexamérica

4. Neomelodrama as Participatory Ethnography: Allison Anders's Mi vida loca

5. The Last Judgment: Marcela Fernández Violante's Requiem (for) Melodrama

Deeds that Inspire Confidence




Explores issues of representation and rebellion in Mexican and Mexican American cinema.


Celluloid Nationalism and Other Melodramas looks at representation and rebellion in times of national uncertainty. Moving from mid-century Mexican cinema to recent films staged in Los Angeles and Mexico City, Susan Dever analyzes melodrama's double function as a genre and as a sensibility, revealing coincidences between movie morals and political pieties in the civic-minded films of Emilio Fernández, Matilde Landeta, Allison Anders, and Marcela Fernández Violante. These filmmakers' rationally and emotionally engaged cinema—offering representations of indigenous peoples and poor urban women who alternately endorsed "civilizing" projects and voiced resistance to such totalization—both interrupts and sustains fictions of national coherence in an increasingly transnational world.

Susan Dever is Associate Professor and Chair of Media Arts at the University of New Mexico.