Media Type: Film
Who wrote / made it : Paul Leduc
Plot summary: Reed, México insurgente is based on the book, Insurgent Mexico (1914), by the US journalist John Reed, who was a war correspondent and committed socialist until his early death at the age of 33. His most famous book, Ten Days That Shook the World (1919), is an eyewitness account of events in Petrograd in November 1917 during the Russian Revolution. Set in late 1913 and 1914, Insurgent Mexico is an episodic account of Reed’s experiences during the Mexican Revolution. He describes his journey across the US-Mexican border territory into Mexico; his adventures and experiences accompanying Villa’s army as they prepare for and fight in a decisive battle in Torreon; the funeral of Abraham González, a Villista leader; the notorious case of a British citizen Benton who was killed in the Revolution; his interview with Villa; an account of the short lived presidency of Venustiano Carranza; and the nightlife and his gambling escapades in Mexican casinos. Reed’s is an energetic, subjective account of battle, which revels in the adventure of war. In the text it is evident that he is eager to get to the frontline of attack as witness and comrade to the men. His irrepressible character and spirit of adventure is evident in Insurgent Mexico, as too is his youth. Born in 1887, he was only twenty-seven when he wrote Insurgent Mexico.
In Reed, México insurgente the camera is observational, telling the story of Reed’s coming of age as a revolutionary, not from his point of view but as a participant/observer. The film is structured around the battle of Torreon, the funeral of Abraham González, and Reed’s meetings with Villa and Obregon. Thereby the narrative sticks to the details related to the conflict and attendant politics. Interestingly, Leduc chose to omit Reed’s youthful exuberance and touristic detail evident in many sections of the book, in particular, those set in the borderland casinos, which take away from the immediacy of war.
Reed, México insurgente has been celebrated as a classic and an exemplary film from an experimental period of Mexican film.