The subject quote was Diego Rivera’s description of Frida Kahlo’s paintings, at her first Mexican exhibition, rather later on in her life. Rivera and Kahlo were long-term friends and although legally married, were never husband and wife, in their own opinion, though today much of their behavior would fit under the rubric of an “open marriage,” which is so often difficult on the emotions.
Rivera and Kahlo are two giants of Mexican art and I regrettably knew very little about them, though they had lived just on the other side of that very shallow river that I once waded across at Big Bend National Park. Salma Hayek plays Frida. I first saw Hayek, only recently, in a rather unusual movie: “Midaq Alley.” It is unusual because it is an adaptation of Naguib Mahfouz’s novel “Midaq Alley,” for which he won the Nobel Prize, and is set in Egypt. The movie, successfully in my opinion, as I said in my review, transposed the setting to Mexico. As is Amazon’s custom, since I liked Hayek in “Midaq Alley,” which was released in 1995, they suggested that I might like her in Frida, and they were right. “Frida” was released in 2002. Alfred Molina gained 50 lbs., per the trivia section, to play Diego Rivera, who Frida called “panzon,” as a bit of “fat shaming.” Geoffrey Rush plays Leon Trotsky. The movie was directed by Julie Taymor.
The movie commences with Frida being moved in her bed, in a pickup truck, proclaiming that she is not dead yet. Then it flashbacks to her school days in Mexico City in 1922 and there is a very graphic depiction of the bus wreck that injured her seriously, the source of a lifetime of the agony that would permeate her art. Her mother opposed Frida marrying the twice-divorced, much older Rivera, the source of a greater, second agony, as she says in the movie. Both are the good communists of the 1930’s, seeking social justice and the good social parties, fueled with the alcohol that would also dominate Frida’s life. Early on, the movie makes her bi-sexuality apparent, another prevailing theme, with a couple very graphic depictions.
They make it to the “big leagues,”: “gringolandia.” Rivera is invited to NYC to exhibit his work, and he takes the town by storm. He secures a commission to paint a mural in the lobby of the Rockefeller Center lobby. He paints in an image of Lenin, which was just pushing things toooo… far. Rockefeller’s son pays him off, and destroys the mural.
The couple petitioned the President of Mexico to grant Leon Trotsky and his wife asylum after he was kicked out of Norway. They stay at Frida’s father’s home, with assorted body guards. Inevitably, given their characters, Frida and Leon have a fling. Naturally, Leon’s wife was not pleased, and to prevent a reoccurrence, they move out, to a less secure location, where he has the rendezvous with the hatchet in the head. Frida knows that in ways she was an accomplice to Trotsky’s murder, for if they had stayed in her father’s much more secure home…
Harvey Weinstein. What we now know taints this movie, and should be yet another movie. Sure, both Rivera and Kahlo were promiscuous. Neither appeared to be of the “notch the bedpost” variety. If they had, I suspect there would have been a rough equivalency. Driven mainly by passion, joy, yeah, maybe there was a need to prove something. But there never seemed to be an element of compulsion. In the “trivia” section, certainly a misnomer in this case, there is Salma Hayek’s statement concerning Harvey Weinstein: “It was clear to me that he would never let me finish this movie without letting him have his fantasy.” Apparently also with the director too. Now if that is not a crime against humanity, or at least “the better half,” as they were once quaintly referred to, I don’t know what is.
Still, for a most informative movie, well-acted, with beautiful composition, 5-stars.