Las mujeres de mi general

Media Type: Film

Year: 1950

Who wrote / made it : Ismael Rodríguez

Plot summary: Las mujeres de mi General (Ismael Rodríguez, 1950) has class struggle as a central defining theme, embodying this in two female characters. Emilio García Riera identifies the character Juan Zepeda (Pedro Infante) in Las mujeres de mi General as a substitute for Villa, “su réplica imaginaria” [his fictional double]. Zepeda returns to his hometown with a soldadera Lupe (Lilia Prado), variously described as a “prieta ranchera” [dark ranch girl] and an “india cerrera” [mountain Indian], who is in love with Zepeda. On his return to the town Zepeda reunites with Carlota (Chula Prieto), a social climber married to the wealthiest man in town, who is conveniently absent for most of the narrative. The film shifts between the love triangle and Villa’s struggle to wrestle with governing a town. As he allies himself with the upper classes he becomes sullied by association, and there is trouble among his ranks. The two women represent opposite scales of the class divide and Zepeda’s relationship with both are a playing out of his loyalty towards the true Revolutionary struggle.  Lupe is generally submissive, acquiescent, willing to fight when necessary and makes a fool of herself when trying to dress up and fit in with the upper classes. She conforms to Zepeda’s wish for “una mujer muy macha” [a very macho woman]. She is nurse, warrior, and mother all rolled into one. In contrast, Carlota is corrupt, a seductress, unfaithful, a liar, schemer, lacks maternal instinct, and is a murderess. Curiously, it is Carlota’s feminine traits, access to wealth and the mask of upper class manners and education which make her suspect, not any masculine performativity. Lupe is unrefined and a fighter, an image that is reinforced by the closing scene in which she, with her baby strapped to her back feeds the bullets into the machine gun operated by Zepeda, as they laugh hysterically. This is an oneric image of the ideal Revolutionary Mexican family, which disrupts the notion of an idealised Revolution rather than supports it. Not because of her behaviour, but because the cause at that point seems hopeless. The troop is low on ammunition, the other side outnumber them, and the bodies of dead soldiers surround them.

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