Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo
Just saw Salma Hayek in Frida. A few months ago, I was at the Detroit Museum of Art (Post)where I saw Diego Rivera's famous 'Ford Murals' and was really impressed with his statement. That's how Frida first saw Diego as a 14 year old, painting a mural in her school.
I always had this impression of Salma Hayek as a 'dumb brunette' prancing about in movies like Desperado, but this movie changed all those perceptions. Hayek as Frida is one of the best perfomance by any actress that I have seen. Julie Traynor, the movie's female director has done a great job directing Hayek and a host of other talented actors in portraying the intensely tragic story of Frida Kahlo and her complex personality. A biopic on someone like Kahlo is always difficult without being overly sympathetic or sensationalizing the spicy details.

Frida Kahlo lost the use of her legs as a polio victim, then learned to walk. Then she again became a cripple as teenager after surviving a terrible bus accident and learned to walk again. She would undergo more than 50 operations which did more to break things rather than mend them. While recovering she began to paint and then showed her work to Diego Rivera, Mexico's most famous artist. Diego Rivera (played by Alfred Molina), an unrepentant womaniser, was impressed by her work but attempted to seduce her. Frida resisted and wanted to be evaluated as an artist. She asked for Rivera's genuine criticism of her work. She insisted on 'equality' and principles of 'comradeship' which impressed Diego and he never thought of her again as just another girl on whom he could use his fame to serve his own purposes.

They got married within a few months much against Frida's mother's wishes. The fat Mexican and his frail, crippled wife had a rocky relationship. Despite Rivera's constant philandering and Frida's bisexuality, they could not do without each other. She fought a losing battle in trying to make Rivera completely her own. She was not without her own amours. Most famously with painter Georgia O' Keeffe and Leon Trotsky. Trotsky (played by Geoffrey Rush) was given asylum in Mexico on Rivera's insistence. Frida's brief affair with Trotsky hurt Rivera deeply and they were divorced for a few months, after which Rivera returned.

The picture above has her famous moustache and shows the duality of her personality and sexuality. Considering the amount of personal tragedy and endurance of pain her story is almost like Van Gogh's. It is remarkable how she did not go mad. The movie ends with Frida being carried, bedridden, to her first exhibition in Mexico. Frida's story is a remarkable story of endurance and overcoming personal tragedy through Art.

The film uses a lot of special effects which I thought was a great idea but poorly done. For a great example of how to use special effects without it getting in the way obviously, see Amelie.


Anonymous said...

im currently studying Frida Kahlo for my HSC art exam and im wondering if you also are an artist or art critic?
i agree with you on hayeks was truely anazing, entirely believable and so very dramatic!
i have to disagree though on your criticism of the special effects used in the movie. i believe personally that they were so crudley done to show it was directly her imagination and not what she actually 'saw'. for instance if she were a self proclaimed ghost witness or auror or telepathic or fortune teller, then i believe that the special effects should have blended because those things are what those people actually see, and are a blending of everyday reality and their own but because she was thinking about them as an over lay to her reality and not her actual reality i think the effects were perfect!
just something to think about!!!
thanks for recognising her on your blog (even though i realise it was about 3 years ago!)


Hirak said...

I am not an artist or an art critic, but I am deeply interested in the subject. Perhaps in another life.

I will have to revisit the movie to consider the special effects. In any case, the movie was fantastic and Hayek and Molina were excellently cast.