1 Title Author(s) 'Muchos Méxicos': widening the lens in Rulfo's cinematic texts Brennan, Dylan Joseph Publication date 2015 Original citation Type of publication Rights Brennan, D. J 'Muchos Méxicos': widening the lens in Rulfo's cinematic texts. PhD Thesis, University College Cork. Doctoral thesis 2014, Dylan J. Brennan. Embargo information No embargo required Item downloaded from Downloaded on T12:57:58Z
2 TITLE: 'Muchos Méxicos': Widening the Lens in Rulfo's Cinematic Texts. AUTHOR: Dylan Joseph Brennan, M.A. QUALIFICATION SOUGHT: PhD INSTITUTION: National University of Ireland, Cork. (University College Cork) DEPARTMENT: Centre for Mexican Studies, Department of Hispanic Studies. MONTH AND YEAR OF SUBMISSION: Originally submitted July, 2014 resubmitted after Minor Changes in February 2015 HEAD OF DEPARTMENT: Prof. Nuala Finnegan, Director of Centre for Mexican Studies. SUPERVISOR: Prof. Nuala Finnegan, Director of Centre for Mexican Studies.
3 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Widening the Focus in Rulfo's Cinematic Texts An Introduction P Texts for Cinema? Rationale and Paramaters P Methodology P Muchos Méxicos P Widening (not shifting) the Focus P Objectives P Inframundos and Fractured Visions El despojo and La fórmula secreta P Conception and Synopsis: An Introduction to El despojo P Published Versions of the Text and Critical Responses P Eternal Hardships: The Structure of El despojo P El Inframundo The Nahual and Other Indigenous Elements P Land and Property and Women Ownership and Dispossession in El despojo P La fórmula secreta: An Introduction P La fórmula secreta : A Synopsis P Surrealism, Montage and La fórmula secreta P Surrealist film and the problem of psychic automatism P La fórmula secreta: dreams and hallucinations of mexicanidad P Eisenstein, montage and La fórmula secreta P Modernisation, machinery and meat production in La fórmula secreta P Animal Slaughter: Surrealist Abjection P La fórmula secreta The Extra-Diegetic Gaze P Rulfo s Text - Monologues of Estrangement? P Identity and La fórmula secreta P Fragments Within Fragments, Conclusions P Pedro Páramo Re-Visited as Melodrama El gallo de oro P El gallo de oro An Introduction P El gallo de oro: Texto para cine? P El gallo de oro: Synopsis P Musical Drama in Atemporal Mexico P El gallo de oro: Narrative Style P Piedra Imán and Rock on the Plain: El gallo de oro and Pedro Páramo P La Caponera Rulfo s María Félix? P 'De la nada a la nada - Cyclical Poverty and Knowing One s Place P Melodrama and Realism El gallo de oro on screen P El Imperio de la Fortuna: Seeing Rulfo Through Ripstein (and Buñuel) P El gallo de oro On Page and Screen: Conclusions P.207
4 4. Infinite Regions Conclusions P Nothing New Here? Rulfo s Ouroboros P New Directions P.219 Bibliography P.221 Appendix La fórmula secreta: The Text P.229 Acknowledegments P.243
5 DECLARATION l, Dylan Joseph Brennan, declare that this thesis is my own work and has not been submitted for another degree, either at University College Cork or elsewhere. Dylan Joseph Brennan
6 It is difficult to overstate the importance of Juan Rulfo s two major pieces of fictional narrative work his haunting, enigmatic novel Pedro Páramo (1955) and his unrelenting depictions of the failures of post-revolutionary Mexico in his short story collection El Llano en llamas (1953). In her foreword to the Margaret Sayers Peden English translation, Susan Sontag hails Pedro Páramo as not only one of the masterpieces of 20th Century world literature, but one of the most influential of the century s books. García Márquez has compared the influence of Rulfo on 20 th Century world literature to that of Sophocles: No son más de 300 páginas, pero son casi tantas y creo tan perdurables como las que conocemos de Sófocles and, completing this oftrepeated triumvirate of recommendations, Jorge Luis Borges has referred to Pedro Páramo as: una de las mejores novelas de las literaturas de lengua hispánica, y aun de la literatura. Despite the praise heaped upon Rulfo s two most famous books, when his third book of fiction, El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine, was finally published in 1980, just six years before his death, it was greeted with almost critical silence. It is precisely this publication that provides the focus of this investigation. The collection contains three texts El despojo, La fórmula secreta and El gallo de oro. Constituting a third of the fictional work he published in his lifetime, expanding upon themes present in El Llano en llamas and Pedro Páramo while, at the same time, examining new ground, no thematic discussion of Rulfo s written output is complete without including these texts. Yet they are frequently dismissed. In this way this investigation attempts to go some way towards filling this critical gap in the work of one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century.
7 1 CHAPTER ONE: WIDENING THE FOCUS IN RULFO S CINEMATIC TEXTS AN INTRODUCTION 1.1. Texts for Cinema? Rationale and Paramaters 1953 saw the publication of Juan Rulfo s collection of short stories El Llano en llamas and the novel, Pedro Páramo, appeared in It is difficult to overstate the importance of Rulfo s two major pieces of fictional narrative work. In her foreword to the Margaret Sayers Peden English translation, Susan Sontag hails Pedro Páramo as not only one of the masterpieces of 20th Century world literature, but one of the most influential of the century s books. (Rulfo 2000: 3) García Márquez has compared the influence of Rulfo on 20 th Century world literature to that of Sophocles: No son más de 300 páginas, pero son casi tantas y creo tan perdurables como las que conocemos de Sófocles (García Márquez 1983: 25) and, completing this oft-repeated triumvirate of recommendations, Jorge Luis Borges has referred to Pedro Páramo as: una de las mejores novelas de las literaturas de lengua hispánica, y aun de la literatura. (Rulfo 2011: 23) Despite the praise heaped upon Rulfo s two most famous books, when his third book of fiction, El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine, was finally published in 1980, just six years before his death, it was greeted with almost critical silence. So much so, in fact, that Sontag s introduction seems to deny the very existence of El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine (1980): It is rare for a writer to publish his first books when he is already in his mid-forties, even rarer for his first books to be immediately acknowledged as masterpieces. And rarer still for such a writer never to publish another book. (Rulfo 2000: 3) It is precisely this publication that provides the focus of this investigation. El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine was published by Ediciones Era and was
8 2 accompanied by a foreword and explanatory notes provided by Mexican cinema expert, Jorge Ayala Blanco. The collection contains three texts El despojo, La fórmula secreta and El gallo de oro. All three texts are inextricably linked to cinema and are analysed in detail, in both their written and filmed formats, in the following chapters. The peculiar nature of the genesis of each of these texts is discussed individually in the following chapters. At this juncture a short note on each of the films is warranted. Suffice it to mention, by way of an introduction, that, while the texts are clearly linked to cinema, not one of them constitutes a screenplay in the traditional sense. El despojo is a 12-minute film that was directed by Antonio Reynoso in 1960 and is based upon a story composed by Rulfo. However, Rulfo never set about typing up a screenplay or dialogue and acted more like co-director on set, verbally suggesting the argument and dialogues on a reportedly ad-hoc basis. The dialogues were later transcribed and included in El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine. In this way El despojo appears to take the form of a screenplay in the 1980 publication. La fórmula secreta is a 45-minute film directed by Rubén Gámez between 1964 and Rulfo was shown a segment of the film in which a group of male campesinos appear in an arid landscape and he subsequently composed a poetic monologue to accompany the campesino footage. The text composed by Rulfo for La fórmula secreta was eventually published in El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine. The definitive version of the text, with corrections, was published in El gallo de oro (2010) by the Fundación Juan Rulfo. Finally, El gallo de oro is a short novel that was adapted for the screen by Roberto Gavaldón (in conjunction with Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes) in It seems that, once the text was adapted for
9 3 the screen, Rulfo abandoned any plans he may have had for publishing it until, of course, he finally did so in El gallo de oro was also adapted for the screen five years later by Arturo Ripstein. His film, El imperio de la fortuna, proved to be a significantly more faithful adaptation. The definitive version of the novel was published by the Fundación Juan Rulfo in 2010 The cover notes for El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine recognise the collaboration of Rubén Gámez, director of La fórmula secreta; Antonio Reynoso, director of El despojo; Pablo Rulfo, visual artist and son of Juan Rulfo; and renowned cultural commentator Carlos Monsiváis. In the cover notes, the need to rescue these texts is emphasised: Era urgente rescatar y difundir al Rulfo cinematográfico. Sus trabajos de cine ignorados. While many cinematic and theatrical adaptations of Rulfo s work exist, Rulfo, in his own lifetime, was directly involved with few films. In addition to the three films mentioned here he also collaborated (despite protestations to the contrary), with Emilio Fernández on Paloma Herida (1962); acted as historical adviser and unofficial on-set photographer of Gavaldón s La Escondida (1955) and acted in the capacity of an extra in Alberto Isaac s En este pueblo no hay ladrones (1964). He also advised filmmakers Mitl Váldez (Los confines: 1987) and José Bolaños (Pedro Páramo El hombre de la media luna: 1976). Nevertheless, this investigation focuses solely El gallo de oro, El despojo and La fórmula secreta, in both written and filmed formats. The fact that these three texts were published together in a compendium makes the decision easy in that, published during Rulfo s lifetime, they represent
10 4 (along with modifications to El Llano en llamas) the only fictional work that he published after Pedro Páramo. 1 The lack of critical attention paid to the films El despojo and La fórmula secreta is understandable. Both films, of unconventional length (El despojo lasts twelve minutes and La fórmula secreta, described by Ayala Blanco as a mediotraje clocks in at the unusual length of forty-five minutes) and limited release, were never likely to become well known upon their release. Furthermore, for years it was believed that the only surviving print of El despojo had been lost in a fire at the Cineteca and there are various examples of critical research on the film based solely upon the transcribed dialogue presented by Ayala Blanco. La fórmula secreta, though well-received by those that saw it (it ran to a fifth week at the Cine Regis, an impressive showing for an avant-garde film), was, like El despojo, seen by relatively few before the age of the internet. With regard to El gallo de oro, the almost critical silence that greeted its publication is both intriguing and confusing. The phrase Rulfo cinematográfico is problematic indeed and part of the reason that Rulfo s second novel, El gallo de oro, has received so little attention. By adding on the phrase y otros textos para cine it seems that the text was immediately regarded, upon its release, as something less, something not quite at a par with his other pieces of narrative fiction some kind of cinematic argument that was not a real novel. As already mentioned, while still unpublished, El gallo de oro was adapted for the screen by Gabriel García 1 El gallo de oro has since been published by RM Editorial in collaboration with the Fundación Juan Rulfo (El gallo de oro, 2010) and most of the references in this investigation will pertain to this revised version, minus the many typographical errors included in the Ediciones Era edition. The same too can be said for the monologues of La fórmula secreta. The changes to the monologues are discussed in depth in the appendix.
11 5 Márquez, Carlos Fuentes and Roberto Gavaldón. The resulting film, Gavaldón s El gallo de oro (1964) was, though well received in Mexico, a far cry from Rulfo s original text. Wholly devoid of the desperate atmosphere of claustrophobia and stasis that characterise the novel s coda, the film version represented a truncated interpretation of the original. In this way, when the text was finally published some twenty four years after it was written, the public could be forgiven for having thought of it as representing nothing more than a written account of Gavaldón s, by then, dated, film a sort of novelisation. In 1980, everyone knew that Rulfo was the writer perennially famous for only publishing two books and, for reasons unknown, the publishers opted not to challenge the notion that Rulfo s fiction ended in 1955 with the publication of Pedro Páramo. Despite these texts being available (albeit in flawed and incomplete form) since 1980, even today, Rulfo is still frequently referred to as the writer who published just two books. Upon the publication of the first edition of Inframundo (itself a new edition of the publication Homenaje Nacional that accompanied Rulfo s major photographic exhibition in 1980), Frank Janney, in his Carta al lector states that: Juan Rulfo es el autor de solo dos libros, El llano en llamas (1953) y Pedro Páramo (1955). (Rulfo 1983: i) What is more surprising is that this was written in 1983, just three years after the publication of El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine, when the publication of Rulfo s newest work should have been fresh in the memory. One more high profile example will suffice to highlight that, despite the best efforts of the Fundación Juan Rulfo, the notion that Rulfo only published two books in his lifetime is alive and well in the 21st Century. In 2012, an English language translation of El Llano en llamas appeared under the
12 6 title The Plain in Flames. On the publisher s website (University of Texas, Austin), the following description of Rulfo appears: Juan Rulfo is one of the most important writers of twentieth-century Mexico, though he wrote only two books the novel Pedro Páramo (1955) and the short story collection El llano en llamas (1953). 2 Constituting a third of the fictional work he published in his lifetime 3, expanding upon themes present in El Llano en llamas and Pedro Páramo while, at the same time, examining new ground, no thematic discussion of Rulfo s written output is complete without including these texts. Yet they are frequently dismissed. In this way this investigation attempts to go some way towards filling this critical gap in the work of one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. The background and rationale of this investigation now established the remainder of this introductory chapter is outlined in four sections. Firstly, an outline of the methodology of this investigation is included. Secondly, a thematic overview of each of the works in question highlights the way in which, in these three texts, previously addressed themes jockey with newer areas of concern. Thirdly, the notion that Rulfo s work constitutes a coherent representation of Mexican culture is re-examined. Entitled Muchos Méxicos, the penultimate section of this introductory chapter situates each film as representing mere fragments of a multi-cultural whole and, thus, questions Octavio Paz s affirmation that: Juan Rulfo es el único novelista mexicano que nos ha dado una imagen no una descripción de nuestro paisaje. (Paz 1984: 18) Rulfo, in fact, published four books in his lifetime: El Llano en llamas (1953), Pedro Páramo (1955), El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine (1980) and the publication that accompanied his major photography exhibition in 1980 Homenaje Nacional (later editions were published under the title Inframundo).
13 7 Fourthly, the final section of this chapter outlines the objectives of this investigation. El despojo contains various striking elements of indigenous Mexican cultures; La fórmula secreta manifests itself as a fractured, delirious and irreverent vision of rural and industrial Mexico clashing against the backdrop of an increasingly globalised (Americanised) world; and El gallo de oro's narrative unfolds within a melodramatic, cinematic world of travelling carnivals. From these brief descriptions it is clear that each text differs hugely from the others. Instead of crystallising the already explored vision of rural Jalisco, they serve to present a more kaleidoscopic vision of Mexico. Fragments within fragments, parts of an arbitrarily delineated whole this is what Rulfo s cinematic texts present. While similar representations of the downtrodden peasants of El Llano en llamas make their appearances (especially in El despojo and La fórmula secreta) they are shown to represent a Mexico with which Rulfo was familiar, but a Mexico located within many other Mexicos, both real and imaginary. 1.2 Methodology With regard to primary research, this investigation necessitated the sourcing and examination of a wide range of archival material. Access has been gained to the entire collection of Rulfo s personal newspaper clippings and archives as well as the Fundación Juan Rulfo s comprehensive collection of Rulfo s photographic negatives and prints. An exhaustive bibliography has been compiled from the collections of University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin and UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). The extensive archives of the
14 8 UNAM Filmoteca in Mexico City provide access to rare film material unavailable elsewhere. The Filmoteca archive contains one of the rare extant copies of the film El despojo. The archive also includes a copy of the film La fórmula secreta and other films by Rulfo collaborators. The primary work for this thesis has resulted in the establishment and publication of the definitive version of Rulfo's text for La fórmula secreta. Included, with extensive notes, as an appendix to this thesis, the various typographical errors and textual omissions have been rectified and, as already stated, since 2010, the corrected version of the monologues have been included in RM Editorial's edition of El gallo de oro. Access to various copies of the film, as well as the assistance of the director of the Fundación Juan Rulfo, Víctor Jiménez, were instrumental for this primary research and ensured that, well before the completion of the thesis, a significant achievement in Rulfian scholarship had been completed. With regard to secondary research, the methodology for this investigation draws from two primary fields. Firstly, this investigation relies heavily upon theoretical work on film with reference to theories of montage, the male gaze, extra-diegetic filmmaking and psychoanalytical approaches to 20th century cinema; and, secondly, cultural investigations on Mexico framed within the fields of history, anthropology and the socio-economic and cultural theories of indigenismo. Because of the peculiar nature of each text, and their on-screen manifestations, each one is examined within its own specific context. For example, the extended montage sequences of La fórmula secreta demand to be analysed within the context of theories of filmic montage drawing on the theories of Eisenstein, Quigley and others. Through the analysis of the film within the
15 9 context of these theories, in the most comprehensive critical investigation of the film to date, new conclusions are inevitably made. Furthermore, the crucial sequence of La fórmula secreta revolves around the extra-diegetic gaze of the protagonist who, refusing to exit the shot, follows the camera and demands the spectators attention. Lacan s theory of the mirror and self-consciousness provides an essential background for later analyses of the incorporation of the cinema of attraction within the now established framework of diegetic film. Christian Metz (Psychoanalysis and Cinema: The Imaginary Signifier, 1982) has developed this theory further. Indigenous elements in El despojo (the presence of the Nahual character, the use of indigenous musical instruments amongst others) demand for the film to be analysed with reference to theories on indigenismo and the social theory of mestizaje. Rulfo and contemporary indigenista writers were informed by thinkers such as José Vasconcelos (philospher of the 'raza cósmica' and proponent of 'strength-through-mestizaje' social programmes); Samuel Ramos (author of El perfil del hombre y la cultura en México and interrogator of the Mexican national psyche); and, particularly Manuel Gamio, (author of Forjando Patria and influential indigenista thinker); whose theories of nationhood encouraged active investigation of Mexican indigenous cultures. The tension between the perceived need for homogenisation and the cultural and linguistic costs of this are embodied by El despojo. Finally, El gallo de oro, in its focus on melodrama and the theme of female incarceration is contextualised by reference to Carlos Monsiváis s comments on the genre and Jackie Stacey and Laura Mulvey s views on the female form and the male gaze in twentieth century cinema. El gallo de oro is also
16 10 compared to Rulfo s first novel Pedro Páramo and considered as a melodramatic reworking of the former. 1.3 Muchos Méxicos Borrowing the term popularised by Lesley Byrd Simpson in his Many Mexicos, Rulfo highlights the diversity of Mexican culture without promoting a perceived necessity for indigenous communities being subsumed for the greater good. Seeing Mexico as an arbitrary construct that cannot be unified by notions of patriotism, language or religion, Rulfo goes as far as stating that there is no such thing as Mexico: Tampoco fue mía la idea de imponer ningún tipo de aspecto de lo mexicano, porque no representa ninguna característica lo mexicano, en absoluto. Lo mexicano son muchos Méxicos. No hay una cosa determinada que pueda permitirnos decir: Así es México. No, no es México. Ninguna de las cosas es México. Es una parte de México. Es uno de tantos Méxicos. (Rulfo 1979: iv) Instead of a melting pot (crisol) in which the molten cultures of Spanish and Indigenous Mexico intermingle to form some kind of new, stronger and, crucially, Mexican metal, Rulfo sees lo mexicano as more of a disjointed mosaic of unrelated fragments defined by arbitrary borders: Mexicano es una definición civil. Abarca lo mismo a quien posee, gracias a su única lengua, el castellano, todas las riquezas culturales del mundo, que el campesino que abandona el campo destruido por la corrupción y la erosión, los caciques y la sequía, y busca un trabajo que no hallará en las grandes ciudades: México, Guadalajara, Monterrey. (Rulfo 1986: 75) Of course, this point of view is a clear reaction to the theories of unity and strength through mestizaje set forth by Mexican intellectuals from the beginning of the century. Ten years before Ramos s investigation, in 1916, Manuel Gamio s Forjando Patria, encouraged the forging of a monolingual mestizo Mexican
17 11 society from Spanish iron and indigenous bronze: Ahí está el hierro [ ]Ahí está el bronce [ ] Batid hermanos! (Gamio 6) In 1925, José Vasconcelos proposed what Heriberto Yépez has referred to as an omni-mestiza American race (Vasconcelos 21). Four years later, during a lecture series in the United States, Vasconcelos s ideas, generally revolving around the idea that mongrel races are the most successful, were crystallised for an American audience: De hecho, los grandes periodos de la historia han sido resultado de la mezcla de razas, pueblos y culturas, en lugar de la obra de una nación privilegiada de sangre pura. (Vasconcelos 136) Vasconcelos, also highlights the heterogeneity of Mexico s societal makeup: Una serie de capas compuestas de materiales que no se mezclan, tal es el bosquejo de nuestra historia. Un compuesto de razas que aún no se han mezclado por completo, tal es la condición social de México, a pesar de que hace cuatrocientos años los españoles, introduciéndose ellos mismos como un nuevo elemento de dicha complejidad, trajeron los primeros esfuerzos organizados de amalgamar los diferentes pueblos en una sola fe, una sola ley, un solo propósito. (Vasconcelos 30) Vasconcelos, recognising the multitudinous ethnic and cultural strata upon which Mexican society rested, also encouraged the notion of mestizaje by citing the positive homogeneity of Argentina (where most of the indigenous communites had been annihilated). Samuel Ramos referred to the indio as representing the Mexican hinterland. In other words, as the Indian seems to be present in every corner of Mexico he therefore does not merit a special mention. He promptly eliminates him from his discussion: Consideremos, pues, que el indio es el hinterland del mexicano. Más por ahora no será objeto de esta investigación. (Ramos 58) Ramos s technique is unsatisfactory and implicitly suggests that his El pérfil de hombre y la cultura en México is an investigation of exclusively mestizo and criollo Mexico in which the indigenous community is nothing more
18 12 than un coro que asiste silencioso al drama de la vida mexicana. (Ramos 2010: 58) Sixteen years after Ramos s analysis appeared, Octavio Paz, in his El laberinto de la soledad (1950), seems to poeticize the indio out of existence: El indio se funde con el paisaje, se confunde con la barda blanca en que se apoya por la tarde, con la tierra oscura en que se tiende a mediodía, con el silencio que lo rodea. Se disimula tanto su humana singularidad que acaba por aboliría; y se vuelve piedra, pirú, muro, silencio: espacio. (Paz 2000: 16) It seems that, for Paz, while the indio lounges about in the sun the real work of defining the national psyche continues without him. While it is fair to say that Paz affords more room to the indigenous in his discussion than does Ramos, particularly in his examination of the dual influence of Spanish and Pre-Hispanic cultures on the Mexican fiesta, his emphasis on the Mexican s denial of the duality of his roots implies mestizaje as antidotal to his sense of orphanhood. Rulfo, on the other hand sees mestizaje as a tool of criollo domination: El problema de la identidad mexicana se creyó resuelto en aquella época gracias a la teoría del mestizaje: México era la equilibrada fusion entre las grandes culturas indígenas y la cultura europea en su modalidad española. Las grandes diferencias étnicas, económicas, sociales, regionales quedaban resueltas en el crisol del mestizaje. Hoy sabemos que el mestizaje fue una estrategia criolla para unificar lo disperso, afirmar su dominio, llenar el vacío de poder dejado por los españoles. México en 1984 está poblado por una minoría que se ve a sí misma como criolla, y es más norteamericanizada que europeizada, y por inmensas mayorías predominantemente indígenas que, cuatro siglos después, aún sufren la derrota de Ya no están en los bosques ni en las montañas inaccesibles: los encontramos a toda hora en las calles de las ciudades. (Rulfo 1986: 74) And it is precisely when members of hitherto isolated rural indigenous communities end up on the streets of the cities that their culture has been surrendered as, through dispersal and assimilation, remnants of language, dress and religion are abandoned. Rulfo, while recognising the need to attempt to
19 13 improve standards of living for all members of the Mexican population, sees attempts at incorporating the indigenous into the mestizo Mexican political and economic system as destined to eliminate the culture that they have fought to preserve. Byrd Simpson s Many Mexicos highlights the cultural diversity of Mexico and points to the dramatic geographical landscape as a major factor in the existence of numerous isolated communities that possess their own languages and customs. Instead of the well-intentioned mestizaje solution of the 1930s, in which indigenous communities were to be respected and studied and, ultimately, assimilated into a monolingual society, Rulfo sees the inevitable destruction of multi-culturalism as the end result of this process. Vargas Llosa, in his essay Fiction and Reality, would make a similar commentary on the detrimental effect of cultural assimilation on indigenous communities: Only in countries where the native population was small or non-existent, or where the aboriginals were practically liquidated, can we talk of integrated societies. In the others, a discreet, sometimes unconscious but very effective 'apartheid' prevails. There, integration is extremely slow and the price the native has to pay for it is high: renunciation of his culture his language, his beliefs, his traditions and customs and adoption of that of his ancient masters. (Vargas Llosa 16-17) It is true that Rulfo at times seems to echo the thoughts of Vasconcelos and Gamio, particularly when he states that necesitamos, forjar una comunidad de naciones hispánicas. No podemos volver a las culturas precolombinas ni ignorar que somos parte del orbe español. (Rulfo 1986: 74) Through the use of the verb forjar he consciously invokes Gamio s earlier call to arms. However, the community of nations must be constructed, not through forced assimilation or the elevation of the mestizo as the mythical ideal, but through the principles of justice and fair treatment of all strata of society:
20 14 Una verdadera comunidad sólo podrá construirse basada en el respeto a las diferencias pero sobre todo basada en la justicia: el fin del hambre, la opresión y el desprecio que las mayorías mexicanas han sufrido durante cuatro siglos. (Rulfo 1986: 75) In other words, Rulfo aims to highlight the fragmented nature of the term Mexican, the heterogeneity that this implies. He questions mestizaje as a solution and simply urges the improvement of living standards for all cultures, indigenous and otherwise, that happen to find themselves within the modern borders of the Mexican Republic, through good government and the elimination of oppression caused by corrupt landowners. El despojo and La fórmula secreta, through their fractured forms, encapsulate Rulfo s views on the pluricultural makeup of Mexican society. While El gallo de oro stands apart from these two works, populated entirely by Spanish speaking mestizos as it is, it, nevertheless, contributes to the construction of Rulfo s fragmented world view when considered alongside the other two texts. In presenting a melodramatic view of Mexican society that, at times, adheres stringently to the norms of Golden-Age Mexican cinema almost to the point of parody (particularly in the descriptions of and construction of La Caponera, his María Félix-inspired take on the archetypal femme-fatale), El gallo de oro seems to mock this notion of mestizo unity. By designating a text suitable for the screen, a text that is based upon the premise that La Caponera is some kind of supernatural lucky charm for her male companions, Rulfo defines the Mexico presented by the makers of Golden-Age Mexican cinema as something fake and risible.
21 15 With reference to notions of cultural fragmentation, arbitrary boundaries and ideas of mestizaje, El despojo and La fórmula secreta, despite their radical, structural differences, make for very suitable comparable texts while El gallo de oro is less easily included in that particular discussion. Conversely El gallo de oro most easily lends itself to the examination of the continuation of thematic strands from Rulfo s previous fiction. For this reason, the films are analysed in two long chapters. Chapter 2 focuses on El despojo and La fórmula secreta while Chapter 3 focuses on El gallo de oro, both the written novel and the two filmed versions. The three films differ significantly in style, conception and atmosphere and this is made clear throughout this investigation. The fact that they were published together is interesting. The simultaneous inclusion of three radically differing within the same compendium serves to strengthen the argument of this investigation as, while El Llano en llamas and Pedro Páramo represent fairly coherent vision of the trials faced by Jaliscan campesinos, El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine widens Rulfo s focus to include elements that are almost wholly absent from those two previous books. There is a thematic tension clearly present in these films, in both their written and filmed formats. The themes of Rulfo's earlier fiction are maintained while, at the same time, new elements are incorporated into each of the three works. This tension is discussed in the following section. 1.4 Widening (not shifting) the Focus Each of the films analysed in this investigation constitutes new artistic ground for Rulfo while simultaneously returning to themes present in El Llano en llamas and Pedro Páramo. In El despojo, elements of indigenous Mexico, almost thoroughly
22 16 absent from El Llano en llamas and Pedro Páramo, are essential elements of the film. From the enigmatic Nahual character to the interspersed recordings of Yaqui ceremonies and use of indigenous musical instruments, El despojo becomes a strange, dreamlike, attempt to enter what Rulfo refers to on various occasions as the inframundo. He sees the inframundo as a sort of impenetrable ontological zone that the indio preserves from mestizo encroachment through the preservation of ancient, and often intangible, cultural elements. On the other hand, the corrupt and callous nature of Don Celerino s dealings with the protagonist are reminiscent of Pedro Páramo s modus operandi while the struggles of the downtrodden peasant class, abused by an unscrupulous hacendado call to mind the plight of the dusty characters depicted in Nos han dado la tierra, 4 the first story in El Llano en llamas. La fórmula secreta, very much a collaborative effort with director Rubén Gámez, constitutes a Surrealist-influenced, fragmented vision of mid-twentieth Century Mexico and its troubled relationship with its northern neighbour. Winning the Primer Concurso de Cine Experimental in 1965, La fórmula secreta again finds Rulfo in unfamiliar territory: at the forefront of Mexican avant-garde filmmaking. Footage of urban Mexico, machinery, hot-dogs and other clear references to the industrialisation of Mexico further distance this work from Rulfo s previous texts. However, Rulfo s monologues occur while the screen is populated with working class men in an arid landscape. These characters call to mind the narrator of Paso del Norte and the countless braceros that attempted to 4 In 'Nos han dado la tierra' the antagonist is not, in fact, an unscrupulous hacendado but the faceless post- Revolutionary government that carves up and distributes the land. Nevertheless, the similiarties are clear.
23 17 cross into the United States, legally and otherwise, in search of better wages and the American Dream. Again, the viewer is reminded of the campesinos that wander the plains of Jalisco throughout El Llano en llamas. El gallo de oro is a melodrama, both in the colloquial sense and in the etymological sense of the word. As most of the early events of the novel take place among the tents and palenques of travelling carnivals, the setting is markedly different than that of his previously published fiction. 5 La Caponera, a brash, fun-loving and loud-mouthed female character, seems, upon cursory examination, more akin to the exuberant female characters inhabited by María Félix during Mexico s cinematic golden agethan any of Rulfo's previously constructed female characters. Nevertheless, despite, at first glance seeming light years away from Rulfo s previous fiction in both style and content, a closer examination reveals a range of similarities between El gallo de oro and Pedro Páramo. So much so, in fact, that the latter work can be seen as a melodramatic reworking of Pedro Páramo. It is clear from the above that although there is a constant tension present in Rulfo s cinematic texts, the themes previously explored in El Llano en llamas and Pedro Páramo do not make way for newer elements. Instead, they jostle for position. Melodrama, indigenous elements, fragmented visions of urban and rural Mexico all these constitute new ground for Rulfo. At the same time common themes rise to the surface. While Rulfo, writing for new media, seems freer to engage with previously unexplored territories, he does so to the same end as his 5 While El gallo de oro is, like El Llano en llamas and Pedro Páramo, clearly situated within a Mexican rural environment its carnivalesque atmosphere and wider geographical sphere set it apart from Rulfo's previously published material.
24 18 most famous works of fiction. The corrupt landowner that tries to take a woman for himself as his property (Don Celerino, Pedro Páramo, Dionisio Pinzón, Lorenzo Benavides) either ends up dead or miserable; the desirable female is incarcerated to the detriment of both herself and her male incarcerator (La Caponera, Susana San Juan, Cleotilde); and the poor campesino is continually at the mercy of corrupt hacendados, the government and the harsh natural environment (the narrator of La fórmula secreta, the protagonist of El despojo, most of the characters of El Llano en llamas). The fact that Rulfo continued the themes of female incarceration, abuse of campesinos and corruption of hacendados in his cinematic texts means that these themes cannot be ignored by any researcher that sets about a thematic investigation of the Jaliscan s work. Conversely, any thematic study of Rulfo must include these cinematic texts in order to obtain an integrated understanding of his work as a whole. For this reason, throughout this investigation, each film is analysed with a focus on both the newer elements and the reccurrences of previous themes. 1.5 Objectives Before moving on to the second chapter of this investigation, in which El despojo and La fórmula secreta are analysed in detail, a concrete outlay of the objectives of this piece of research is warranted. The objectives of this thesis are four-fold. Firstly, one of the aims of this investigation is to present an in-depth analysis of El despojo, La fórmula secreta and El gallo de oro in both their written and filmed versions. Up until recent years, these works, particularly El despojo and La fórmula secreta, have been virtually neglected by Rulfian
25 19 scholars. Therefore, merely by dedicating such a large piece of research to these texts, this investigation counts as a significant addition to both Rulfian scholarship and Mexican cinema and literary studies. Secondly, this investigation, in positing the notion that these texts represent a thematic tension between previous and newer Rulfian concerns, helps to firmly establish certain themes in Rulfo s work. It may seem contradictory to focus on the continual thematic strands while at the same time highlighting the ways in which these cinematic texts include elements previously neglected by Rulfo. Nevertheless, any investigation of El despojo, La fórmula secreta and El gallo de oro that focused on the continual thematic strands of land ownership, dispossession, incarceration of female protagonists and structural experimentation with no mention of the ways in which Rulfo incorporates elements of indigenous cultures, melodramatic cinema tropes and references to the fragmented nature of Mexican society, would result in a flawed analysis. The same, of course, could be said of any investigation of these texts that neglected the aforementioned newer areas of concern in favour of exclusively focusing on the ways in which Rulfo expands upon themes already encountered in his fiction. This has frequently been the case in critical analyses of Rulfo s photography where investigators, keen to stress that Rulfo s photographs can be viewed as visual representations of the abandoned towns of Comala and Luvina, fail to analize his photographs of indigenous communities in Oaxaca, his Mexico City street photography or his work photographing the trains and tracks of Nonoalco. In other words, this investigation benefits from an even handed thematic analysis of these three texts that is not afraid to disrupt long-held notions of what constitutes the Rulfo canon.
26 20 Thirdly, and this objective has already been realised, this investigation sets establishing a definitive version of the text that Rulfo composed for La fórmula secreta. From 1980 to 2009, Rulfo s text had been published with errors and omissions by Ediciones Era. In conjunction with the Fundación Juan Rulfo, part of this investigation was published in the RM Editorial/Fundación Juan Rulfo edition of El gallo de oro in The publication included what has now been identified by the Fundación Juan Rulfo as the definitive version of the monologues with an accompanying explanatory note. Finally, through its thematic analysis, this investigation challenges the notion that Rulfo s work represents a coherent vision of Mexico, or indeed, as stated by Paz, the Mexican landscape. As mentioned in this chapter, Rulfo himself challenges the idea that the poor, Spanish-speaking mestizo farmer of the plains and mountains of Jalisco represents the typical Mexican. Rulfo s cinematic texts are fractured and allude to a wider range of Mexican identities the femme fatale of Mexican Golden-Age cinema, the indigenous inframundo and the smashed, multi-cultural mirror of La fórmula secreta that can only be reassembled in the bewildered mind of the viewer all these contribute to this fragmented vision of muchos Méxicos. The fact remains that these three texts are still viewed as lesser works, or, at the very least, lesser-known works. For this reason, in each of the following chapters, it is necessary to present a synopsis of the text and to provide some context as to each text s origin as well as its relationship to the denomination texto para cine before any deeper thematic analysis can come about. Each of the texts boasts a peculiar and complex origin and, for this reason, as much context
27 21 has been provided as possible. The following chapter presents a detailed study of El despojo and La fórmula secreta and highlights, among other things the fractured vision of Mexican society that incorprates elements of indigenous Mexico, globalisation and other significant areas of concern that are wholly or almost wholly absent from his previous work. Before conclusions are made, these two films are analysed in the order in which they were made, El despojo followed by La fórmula secreta.
28 22 CHAPTER TWO: INFRAMUNDOS AND FRACTURED VISIONS EL DESPOJO AND LA FÓRMULA SECRETA 2.1 Conception and Synopsis: An Introduction to El despojo In 1960, Antonio Reynoso directed El despojo, relying heavily on Rulfo s help as consultant and scriptwriter of the film s sparse dialogue. El despojo clearly reflects Rulfo s recurring fascination with the rural struggles of Mexican peasants as well as his interest in structural experimentation. This twelve minute short film was photographed in black and white by Rafael Corkidi and was filmed over a period of weekends without a tangible script. It tells the story of an indigenous man whose land has been taken away from him. Fearful that the local hacendado, Don Celerino, will also steal his wife, the film charts his efforts to escape with his wife and child, named Petra and Lencho respectively. When he arrives to the town of Cardonal (although this is unnamed in the film) carrying a guitarrón on his back, he comes face to face with Don Celerino. He shoots Don Celerino, who, in turn, at the moment of death, manages to shoot the protagonist. As the protagonist slowly falls down dead, the camera freezes and the rest of the story happens in the mind of the protagonist as he imagines his escape with his wife Petra and his sick son Lencho. As they flee, they are stalked by the Nahual and eventually, after the protagonist imagines a better life in a land which es tan verde la tierra que hasta el cielo es verde (Rulfo 1980: 110), Lencho dies and is buried. It is at this moment that the film cuts back to the protagonist s falling lifeless body which slowly comes to ground in a manner not unlike the way in which Pedro Páramo s slowly crumbling heap of rocks brings Rulfo's first novel to a close. As he lies
29 23 lifeless in the dust, he is covered by the ominous shadows of encroaching onlookers. There is an element of confusion surrounding the ownership and authority of the text and the roles played by Rulfo, Reynoso and Corkidi which can now be clarified with reference to two illuminating interviews by Gabriela Gómez Yánes with director Antonio Reynoso and photographer Rafael Corkidi which are referred to below. There are four pieces of conflicting information regarding Rulfo s role in the film which will now be considered: In the opening credits of El despojo it clearly states: de un cuento de Juan Rulfo. Dirección Antonio Reynoso. Alberto Vital, in Noticias de Juan Rulfo states that Rulfo acted as co-director on El despojo. (Vital 2003: 154) In a grant application to the Guggenheim Foundation, Rulfo himself describes El despojo as a short novel when he includes the following auto-bibliographical information: El gallo de oro. Novela No se publicó por haberse utilizado como argumento para la película del mismo nombre. El despojo. Novela corta También fue convertida en película. (Vital 2003: 162) In the interview with Yanes Gómez, Corkidi recalls how he and Reynoso already had a story to film and how that story began to change during Rulfo s night-time storytelling sessions: Cuando llegamos a ese lugar, que se llama Cardonal, llevábamos ya el guión y todo, supuestamente. Pero Rulfo empezó a alucinar, a contarnos cosas en la noche, que filmábamos en la mañana. Entonces, aunque hicimos la anécdota de El despojo, que es algo que nos contó Rulfo, el mundo era él de Luvina. A mi maestro [Reynoso] se le quedó en la cabeza Luvina y con esa idea contó El despojo. Muy interesante corto. (Yanes Gómez 64)
30 24 Of these four clues, the least trustworthy, it must be said, is the Guggenheim application form where Rulfo states that El despojo was a short novel later made into a film. It was not, as seen elsewhere, uncommon for Rulfo to tell wildly contrasting accounts of what he had written, not written or was planning to write and the Guggenheim application form must be seen within the context of a writer seeking a grant from a prestigious organisation and wanting to portray himself in as productive a light as possible. Vital s claim that Rulfo acted as co-director may be close to the truth as it does seem, from the interviews with Corkidi and Reynoso, that he did have a fairly hands-on role in the day-to-day planning and shooting of the film. The script that they originally had planned was discarded when Rulfo began to get his own idea for the film s plot. The opening titles sequence can, however, be taken at face value as El despojo, was, in fact, based on a story by Rulfo, albeit a story that was not written down and was formulated on an ad hoc basis while already on location. In this light, it would seem appropriate to consider the film very much as a collaborative project in the avant-garde tradition while, at the same time, being based upon Rulfo s own narrative. It is argued in this thesis that El despojo, while using a new format for Rulfo, continues his explorations of the themes of death, revenge, dispossession and corruption which are ever-present in El Llano en llamas and Pedro Páramo while, at same time, attempting to incorporate significant elements of indigenous Mexican culture. It also embodies Rulfo s penchant for experimenting with narrative structure and blurring the lines between the living and the dead. It is essential to note that, while Rulfo s narrative provides the film s thrust, it must be viewed in a different light than, for example, the
31 25 stories of El Llano en llamas. The text presented by Ayala Blanco in El gallo de oro y otros textos para cine, lacks independence, and this is noted below by José Carlos González Boixo. As the dialogue is sparse, any analysis of El despojo as solely a written text will result in a partial reading as important elements, such as images and sound are, naturally, only appreciable when viewed on screen. From 1963 up until his death in 1986, Rulfo held the post of director of publications at the INI (Instituto Nacional Indigenista). After the death of Alfonso Caso and the appointment of Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán to the role of Director General of the INI in 1970, Rulfo oversaw a significant increase in publications over the following six years. Under the directorship of Aguirre Beltrán, the INI launched 43 sholarly publications. With 2,000 copies of each publication, Rulfo (from ) introduced around 80,000 books into circulation (Báez-Jorge 225). 6 It is clear to any investigator that Rulfo was heavily involved in the publication and dissemmination of scholarly research into the area of Mexican indigenous communities. Nevertheless, indigenous communties are almost entirely absent from Rulfo's first two books of fiction. While a reader of Pedro Páramo or El Llano en llamas will find few easily apparent references to indigenous communities, El despojo proves otherwise. El despojo represents the clearest example of the way in which his collaborative cinematic works retain themes from his first two books while simultanesously exploring newer elements. The protagonist s desperate attempt to survive in a world of agrarian oppression 6 Félix Báez- Jorge lists the following titles as highly significant publications that Rulfo oversaw in collaboration with well- known publisher Lauro J. Zavala and anthropologist Alfonso Villa Rojas: Vida y Magia en un pueblo otomí by Luigi Tranfo, Parentesco y economía de una sociedad nahua by Lourdes Arizpe, Planos de interacción del mundo tzotzil by George A. Collier, La religión de los totonacos by Alain Ichon, El indio en la narrativa contempóranea de México y Guatemala by Lancelot Cowie and Los zoque- popolucas: estructura social by Báez- Jorge himself. (Báez- Jorge 2010: 225)