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February 28, 2019


Thank you for your thoughtful post and for linking to Marcela Garcia's article. One of my friends grew up in Mexico City in the Roma neighborhood, and she wanted me to see the movie and observe what she felt was a piercingly accurate depiction of life in Mexico in the early 1970s. Her family moved from the U.S. to Mexico in the late 1940s due to her father's job as an engineer. The entire family became fluent in Spanish. Her parents hired a Oaxacan woman to take care of her and her brothers and sisters as well as act as a full-time servant. My friend saw the movie in a similar light to Marcela Garcia. My friend, like Marcela, was startled at the use of the charged words "Pinche gata" and the mistranslation. She saw the movie accurately confronting racism in the Mexican culture in which she grew up and soberly looked at her family's part in that.

When Nathan Phillips stepped forward with his drum in Washington, D.C., the general American response reminds me of what Marcela Garcia described since Yalitza Aparicio became visible in a way that the dominant culture in Mexico is not prepared for. Nathan Phillips was quickly discounted, like Yalitza Aparacio, as a marginal person of little consequence. Light is truly being shed on dark secrets.

Thank you for your post, Beth, and comment, Am. I saw Roma in the cinema and thought it an amazing piece of art: layered, complex, dramatic & human. The underlying message I took away was 'the evil that men do', literally and metaphorically. Coming from a European rather than American perspective I wonder how different my response was: perhaps less charged and more ignorant? 'Pinche gata' shocked me in its fierceness and inevitability, but only through the delivery and English subtitle. When you say mistranslation I wonder what would be a more accurate translation? Isn't the point that it's impossible to translate the power of the phrase?

Aparicio was (is!) amazing and it was a privilege to witness her performance in Cuaron's film.

Saw Roma a month or so ago. Couldn't make any grand conclusions about it other than it was fiction (based on the director's life) made to look like a documentary. But every so often random events (eg, getting the car into that narrow alleyway) intervened to suggest what you were seeing was real life. I can't remember a single cinematic cliché, the camera seemed to have a mind of its own. Racism? Well sure. Was I surprised? Not really. If I looked hard I'd probably find racism outside my front door. Look a little harder and I'd find it within my own DNA. I was not born nourishing a hard gem-like conviction that everyone is equal, there were fights to be fought in childhood, adolescence, and even now in my eighties to arrive at my present individual if wobbly view of the world. All I can say is that parts of Roma had a certain impenetrability which I associate with art. Yes, that's it. Art is hard. Chances are if it's easy it ain't art. See what I mean about wobbly?

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.