Arrives In New York
From El Diario
October 25, 2002
By Eva Sanchis
Who would have thought that, thanks to the Mexican actress Salma
Hayek and Hollywood, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is suddenly
all the rage in the United States, with the new movie, "Frida"
about her life showing in theaters? I ask this question because
70 years ago in this country, the symbol of capitalism, the Rockefeller
family gave orders to destroy a Rockefeller Center mural painted
by Kahlos husband, Diego Rivera, because the muralist, communist
like his wife, refused to paint over a portrait of Lenin that he
During many years, Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) lived in the shadow
of Diego Rivera, a man that, besides being an icon of Mexican culture,
was a womanizer twice her age who merely increased the pain that
weighed heavily on the painter, whose back and legs were badly injured
in a traffic accident when she was 18.
However, Fridas fame began to grow after the 1983 publication
of "Frida" the biography written by Hayden Herrera on
which Hayeks new film is based. The biography tells the story
of a woman who not only bravely faced pain, infidelity from her
husband and her own inability to have children, but also was able
to transfer this pain into surrealist paintings that converted her
into a world-renown painter, with expositions in Paris and New York.
Myths about Frida have grown among certain circles in the United
States, who see her as a symbol of injustice and sexism, and since
the 1980s her life has been a temptation for writers and filmmakers.
"Frida Kahlo" isnt the first movie about the Mexican
painter. Paul Leduc filmed a movie about Frida that was produced
in Mexico, called "Frida, Naturaleza Viva." It was shown
in 1983 and is considered the definitive movie about the painter.
But now we are talking about a Hollywood production, so get ready
for an avalanche of Frida-mania, which could take the country by
storm, just as sharks, aliens and dinosaurs have done in their time.
Salma Hayek is now everywhere, promoting the movie at film festivals,
being interviewed in the press and on television, and, as of yesterday,
dressed as Frida in a wax statue in New York Citys Madame
Tusssauds. Hayek had the luck or persistence probably
more of the latter--necessary to garner a role coveted by stars
as big as Madonna, who is a well-known admirer and collector of
Kahlos paintings, and Jennifer Lopez.
It doesnt stop being surprising that it is Hollywood, this
time through Miramax Films, that is making the painter a household
name, but that is the power of movie stars. In this movie there
are many, to name a few; Hayek, Antonio Banderas, the Oscar-winning
actor Geoffrey Rush, and Edward Norton, Hayeks boyfriend for
the last few years.
It is surprising, really, that "Frida-mania" is being
created by Hollywood, because one of the major obstacles that Hayek
faced as producer of the film, was to convince investors to support
a movie where the protagonist was sickly and ugly and her husband
was obese. Hayek was finally able to convince them that the story
was attractive enough to be told, above all if Fridas deformed
body acquired Hayeks shapely curves on the big screen.
The English language movie "Frida" is being shown in
theaters at a moment when Mexico has broken from the rule of the
party that, since the Revolution, had governed the country uninterrupted,
and when the Hispanic population of the United States above
all the Mexican populationis growing at an incomparable rate.
Hayek, who began her career as a Mexican soap opera star, said
when she introduced the film in Mexico, "we Mexicans are going
to be very popular world-wide." It sure looks that way.
Translated From Spanish by Jonathan Charnay
Back to The Citizen Page