Thursday, 19 January 2012

Lumi Cavazos & Claudette Maillé in "Como Agua para Chocolate" [1992 Mexico]

Veteran actor and director Alfonso Arau bagged a bucket full of awards for his 1992 romantic drama, "Como Agua para Chocolate" [Eng. Title: Like Water for Chocolate]. Based on wife and writer Laura Esquivel's novel of the same name, this is a quintessentially Latin American saga spanning three generations of a wealthy family during the first half of the twentieth century. Borrowing elements from native American mysticism, never has gastronomy, sensuality, love, eroticism, and magical fantasy been as imaginatively and effectively combined together in film before.

We follow the life of Tita, the last of three born to a prosperous couple - and according to family custom, destined to stay unmarried to look after her mother at old age. The father dies of a heart attack celebrating Tita's birth after he learns he may not be the father to the second child Gertrudis. As the children grow up, we notice mother Elena's barely concealed hatred towards Tita - she treats her more or less like a servant. But young Pedro, the son of a family friend falls in love with Tita, one which she couldn't reciprocate due to her circumstances. While refusing a proposal for their marriage, mother Elena offers the eldest daughter's hand in return, and Pedro accepts the offer as an excuse to stay close to Tita, as he'll be living in the maternal home. But things don't go according to plan with the ever suspicious Elena keeping a watchful eye on Tita. But Tita has a gift, acquired from her native American nanny and cook who teaches her to capture and transmit passions and emotions through cookery. After the nanny's death, Tita becomes the chief cook for the family. Tragedy strikes, and Tita gets acquainted with John, an American doctor from Texas, who had loved her from the first time they met. But she couldn't love him as much as Pedro, and resigns to waiting for Pedro to become available again...

While the film is well made and put together, it is essentially a woman's story, aimed at women. But it is the screenplay that makes it special. Held as a landmark in Mexican cinema, it neatly coincides with the second wave of creative film making in Mexico, even if Arau belongs to an older generation. Watch the film, and even better, read the book as well - Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link
Amazon Book Link [Eng. Adaptation]

Compilation: Claudette Maillé, Lumi Cavazos, and Regina Torné
The compilation was made from a letterboxed NTSC DVD (same as the above Amazon-listed product), which unfortunately is designed for older television sets. But it has a rather special scene, which demands greater respect in this blog. I enhanced it using my existing tools, but admit the exercise was only partly successful. Judge for yourself - snapshots from the original DVD (left), and my enhanced version (right):

from the original dvd my enhanced version

I'm also beginning to lose interest in posting compilations after some recent discoveries, which will be explained later in a separate post.

Claudette Maillé, Lumi Cavazos, and Regina Torné from Como agua para Chocolate

Scene Guide:
  • Sauce made from the petals of roses that Pedro had presented Tita, mixed with drops of blood caused by the thorns after it inadvertently scratches her chest, combined with Tita's unbridled sexual desire, and of course the succulent quails apparently amount to igniting latent horniness in people who partake in the meal - Tita is communicating with her lover in a language without using words. And Tita's sister Gertrudis is so ignited by the dish that she even sets the shower cabin alight trying to quell her own passion. She runs from the burning cabin in the nude, into the waiting arms of a revolutionary she had fallen in love with, and they ride off into the sunset in one of the most romantic and sensual scenes in cinema. Gertrudis is played by the voluptuous and sexy Claudette Maillé.
  • Tita, the little saucy witch gives Pedro, now her brother-in-law, an eyeful of her virginal 'tetas' as she prepares mole. She compares her breasts to fresh dough - in the oven of his gaze. :-)
  • In effect, Tita becomes a wet nurse to Pedro's child, offering the baby her breasts as a pacifier. Tita by the way, is played by Lumi Cavazos.
  • Tita bathing mother Elena, a character as cold as Ingrid Thullin's Karin in Viskningar och Rop. Elena is played by veteran actress Regina Torné.
  • Upon hearing of the death of Pedro's child, Tita disobeys her mum for the first time, and locks herself up in the loft. John rescues and takes her away.
  • Tita gets together with Pedro after twenty two tears, after his daughter gets married...


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