68 of 68 people found the following review helpful
As the title "Life and Times" suggests, this documentary includes some history of the first half of the 20th century in Mexico, and the people who surrounded Frida's life; it includes a little background on her parents, and her terrible health problems, starting with polio as a child, and later a horrific traffic accident that left her in pain for the rest of her life; biographer Hayden Herrera and Ken Burns were the consultants for this film, and it includes many interviews, some of which are a little flaky, and perhaps the most interesting and insightful are the clips with writer Carlos Fuentes.
Not that many of her works are shown, although we do see some pieces that are rarely seen; what I appreciate the most is the archival footage of Frida, the most memorable being of her on the scaffold while Diego Rivera is painting a mural commission in the U.S., sleek and petite in a black dress.
Frida's love/obsession for Diego is documented, along with their tormented and tempestuous marriage-divorce-marriage, his many infidelities (even with her sister), as well as her own indiscretions.
Rita Moreno narrates the story well, with singer Lila Downs speaking the words of Frida from her journal, and the film ends with an auction at Christy's, where a small self-portrait sells for $1,200,000.
Running time is approximately 85 minutes.
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2005
There's no such thing as knowing too much about Frida. Thus, for her countless devotees, of which I am one, this was a must-see.
Every account of Frida brings out different facts. Thus, one must see or read them all. In Julie Taymor's movie, Trotsky ends their affair to save his marriage, but here Frida breaks it off because she is bored with him. In the film, she has an exhibition in Mexico after she lost her leg, but here they say her leg was amputated after the exhibition. The movie implies that Frida had an affair with Andre' Breton, but this documentary suggests she had an affair with Breton's wife.
This film not only shows photographs and moving images of Frida and Diego, but there is a moving image of them in color. I didn't realize she lived long enough to be filmed in color.
This film shows that many Latinos of this day (Fuentes, Monsivais) knew her. Rita Morena, a godmother of Latina celebrities, narrates this work.
This is the first and only PBS documentary on DVD that I've seen with Spanish subtitles. I am writing them today to let them know that all of their DVDs should have this option.
I thought the documentary would just re-hash things that I already knew, instead it just deepened and strengthen my love for Frida. May she continue to rest in peace!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2006
As another reviewer noted, for those of us who love and are inspired by Frida -- both her life and her work -- any additional tidbit of film footage or new anecdote about her is a treasure. This beautiful and moving documentary is a cornucopia of biographical information, archival film footage, wonderful photos, and current views of some of Frida's former haunts. The film is spare enough to avoid repetition of some of the best-known information, yet detailed enough to provide new insights to someone who has read two major biographies of Frida. One arrives at the conclusion with a much richer and more comprehensive understanding of her role in the history of Mexican art and surrealism. Rita Moreno's lilting narration enhances the film's Mexican flavor, and the sound track is unobtrusive but pleasant. The special features, consisting of interviews with Frida's students ("Los Fridos"), reveal another side of her personality: that of a gifted and generous teacher. These interviews also contain some enchanting insights into her creative process and her relationships. One of the best artist film biographies I've seen!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2005
Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists of all time. Her haunting self-portraits are some of the most unforgettable images that I have ever seen. Frida's piercing gaze and brilliant use of colors makes for a wicked combination. I first saw "The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo" on PBS a couple of months ago but I didn't see it in its entirety. After seeing the Julie Taymor film, I had to rent the documentary to get a better grasp of the enigmatic artist.
I loved Rita Moreno's narration. Rita was the perfect narrator. I also loved Lila Downs as Frida. The history of Frida is far from boring to say the very least. Her tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera is a soap opera's dream come true. What I found so interesting is the stories behind her paintings. The pain she went through to create the vivid, intimate, and often graphic images of the sorrow, pain, and anger she was experiencing. I found the documentary much more compelling than the biopic of the artist although the performances in the film were wonderful. This documentary is worth viewing for anyone who loved the Julie Taymor biopic.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2007
What more can be said about the life of this amazing lady? I have very, very few public figures I admire, and a general disdain for "celebrity", even though some of those I admire might be called the icons of celebrity. But the life of Frida Kahlo is not only amazing because of the wonder of her art, but, the wonder of her life. From her birth into the revolutionary Mexico of that time, to her early years of rebellion and non conformity (very brave for that time...) to her life altering and terrible accident that left her in lifelong chronic pain, to her furthur life changing introduction to artist Diego Rivera, to her tragic and drawn out death...her life is the stuff of legend. But clearly, for me at least, the two outstanding things about Frida Kahlo were not only her singular artistic expression, but her bravery in simply being "herself." Not impressed with the trappings of fame that would appeal to most, and blatantly verbal about the phoniness of "celebrity", she remained true to herself until the end. The three things most important to her were Diego Rivera, political freedom, and, her art, which she viewed in her lifetime not as the wonder for which it became known, but as the most personal expression of her physical and emotional pain. Never before and not since has the world seen artistic expression, especially at that time in history, so honestly, brutally, graphically, and gloriously expressed as that of Frida. Even the great and renowned and then much more famous Rivera, he of the arrogance , machismo, and infidelity, considered little Frida the most talented and true artist of that time, a sentiment which is very touching in its tribute, especially considering it was made during her lifetime, and not in the hindsight and sometimes altered expression of loss. Admittedly I am late coming in the admiration of this incredible life that so many already are more than aware of. I have only recently gotten around to seeing and purchasing not only the motion picture "Frida", but , the excellent and informative ( if dubbed) ""The Hand That Ties The Bomb." I have found this film, "The Life And Times Of Frida Kahlo", to be the best accompaniment to those others and probably the best that will be produced concerning her life and times. Though I was aware of stirrings of the last decade regarding her life, and had seen but not really "looked at" her art in the past, I admit to being totally smitten, amazed, and surprisingly and unpreparedly adoring upon learning more and actually seeing the amazing art produced from this tiny force of nature. That she not only created some of the most moving and personal images of the past century, but burned with a light so brief but so true and honest and noble, makes my admiration for her all the more. Her revolutionary expression and strength of her identity and ideals might seem in contradiction to her seeming servitude to Rivera, and her view of herself as a simple Mexican girl, but, these are all parts of Frida, and all valid. Often, great art is produced by a personality that is maybe not as interesting as their art, or, vice versa, but..Frida's life was her art and her art was her life. A life that to myself and many others is one of the most amazing and admirable lives of the past century. How startling that in this age of celebrity for no reason and irritating self promotion, that her creative legacy and the appreciation and recognition of her occurred so many years after she left this world.., As Diego Rivera expressed, a diamond amongst many inferior jewels. She remains a true and rare phenomenon. "I hope the exit is beautiful...And I hope never to return."
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This documentary of Frida Kahlo was well organized and presented. You can not put one's whole life into 90 minutes; however this came pretty close. We see the places Frida lived and the people and events that influenced her. Luckily she lived in a time of photography and films. The presenters do not try to over include any aspect of her life and do not try to put a spin or judgment on it or her paintings. The presentation is intense and tightly packed. The films are not found in other media such as books. You may need to stop it periodical to reflect on the contents.
What it is not. It is not of course as in-depth as the book "Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo" by Hayden Herrera which includes correspondents' and a stronger background of the life and times.
Even though this is a first rate and fascinating documentary it can not hold a candle to the presentation in movie "Frida" Starring: Salma Hayek, Mía Maestro Director: Julie Taymor. This is presented first person and has a haunting musical compliments.
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2007
This film is a great introduction into the life and art of Frida Kahlo. If you're just getting to know her, then this film is a great "Introduction to Frida Kahlo - 101" course. I highly recommend this documentary....it's the best I've seen. It presents the best balance of her life story and her art. The numerous photos and home-movie clips are priceless. On a scale of 1-to-10 I would rate this documentary a "9". If some, or even one, of the movie clips was a "talkie" I'd give it a "10+".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2011
Amy Stechler's 2004 tribute to Frida Kahlo comes in the wake of a tremendous resurgence of interest in the painter's life and work.
The historical and biographical facts have been documented in countless books. Born in 1907, Frida grew up with vivid memories of the Mexican revolution of 1910, an event that transformed Mexican cultural life and opened the door to a renaissance in art.
At age six she suffered from polio, which left her with one shortened leg. Though she survived polio, she was later crippled at age 19 when a bus she was riding collided with a trolley. She suffered multiple injuries, spent three months in a full body cast, and had painful relapses for the rest of her life.
Frida met Diego Rivera while attending La Preparatoria, the elite high school in Mexico City. Rivera, 21 years older than Frida and as yet unknown, had been hired as a muralist to paint scenes from Mexican history on the school's walls. They met again in 1928 and married in 1929. The love affair of "the elephant and the dove" as they were dubbed had a storybook quality, though not without its trials, including infidelities by both partners.
In 1931 the couple left Mexico for San Francisco where Diego had a mural commission. They moved on to Detroit, where Rivera painted the famous Detroit Industry frescoes at the Detroit Institute of Art in 1932-33.
A 1938 group show in Mexico City brought Frida her first major recognition. Meanwhile the on-again off-again relationship with Rivera culminated in separation in 1939, followed by divorce (they later remarried). Frida made solo trips to New York and, at the invitation of surrealist Andre Breton, Paris. In both places her work met with acclaim.
Her health deteriorated steadily for the last 10 years of her life. She spent the entire year of 1950 in hospital in Mexico City. Here she became addicted to painkillers. She died in 1954 at age 47.
For this PBS documentary, photos, film clips and interviews are mixed with photos of Frida's paintings. The director wisely resists the temptation to venture into art criticism, instead letting the paintings speak for themselves. There are interviews with writer Carlos Fuentes, art historian Victor Zamudio Taylor, journalists Carlos Monsivais and Elena Poniatowski, Rina Lazo, Rivera's assistant, and Frida's students at La Esmeralda, the experimental art school in Mexico City where she taught in the 1940s. Along with these, rare footage of Leon Trotsky and Breton brings to life the era in which Frida lived and worked.
The Special Features section of the DVD includes additional conversations with "Los Fridos," the four students from La Esmeralda who followed Frida to study at the Blue House, her home in Coyoacan, when the commute to Mexico City became too difficult for her. These interviews cast light on a side of Frida that is sometimes overlooked: her genius as a teacher.
As Amy Stechler's film makes clear, Frida's was a towering presence that inspired and uplifted those around her. Above all, Frida Kahlo loved life. On her last painting, she inscribed the words "Viva la Vida." These simple words guided her through a life of pain and suffering. See this film and experience the soul of a great artist and great human being.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo; was a beautiful documentary. I became interested in her many years ago. This by far is very well done. I did enjoy "Frida" with S. Heyack also.
I highly recommend this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2007
Extremely concise, yet good biography on Frida Kahlo. Probably good for people just starting to be interested in Frida, and of course, those wanting to get further in-depth into Frida's life and art, Hayden Herrera's biography is the best source.
Some excellent film footage of Kahlo which I'd never seen before, and as always its great to see her in a moving image as opposed to photographs and paintings.
Well worth the money even though its rather short and doesn't dwell too long on even the most important parts of Kahlo's life.