“UNA FAMILIA DE TANTAS” (“A Family Like Many Others”)— Lost Family Traditions

“UNA FAMILIA DE TANTAS” (“A Family Like Many Others”)

Lost Family Traditions

Amos Lassen

Rodrigo Cataño (Fernando Soler)  sees and runs his household like his own private kingdom. He demands obedience and respect from his submissive wife Doña Gracia (Eugenia Galindo) and their five children. This is disturbed with the arrival of charming travelling salesman Roberto (David Silva), who convinces Rodrigo to purchase his household wares (a vacuum cleaner and a refrigerator). Roberto also enchants the family’s 15-year-old daughter Maru (Martha Roth). When Maru declares that she intends to marry Roberto, she defies her domineering father and the entire patriarchal order he represents. The film has long been considered one of the key films of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Director Alejandro Galindo’s  family drama shows the tension between tradition and modernity that was taking over Mexican society at the time (1949).

This film is not only one of the most representative achievements of how high were the productions standards in those days, but also artistic precision. It was filmed in the classic American way with a solid narrative, economic shots and a very strong screenplay. The plot is simple but full of heart and mind: It was a cleaning machine that broke the stability of a conservative family; the modern time pulls apart the strong 19th century comfort. Post-revolutionary society enters in crisis: the sons will be raised against his parents to discuss the authority terms. The generational barrier rises. Here is classic cinema that explains the history of Mexican modern urban society in the middle of 20th century.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Mexicans were influenced in their daily lives by France’s elegant and traditional culture. France combined perfectly with Spain’s heritage in their family values. Mexican family members were very close and their Religious beliefs allowed them to see the family as the center of their lives. This changed— after World War II the European influence gave way to the one from the United States, which was totally different. The upper and middle classes younger generations, in a desire of new guidelines looked to the North to adopt what that Country had to offer. Families were never the same since then. The control that the Father once had over his family members diminished abruptly as kids wanted to live their own lives even if this meant not to accept what had been the Patriarch’s decision. This is what this movie is about: the initiation of lost family traditions, which through the beginning of the 21st Century has taken down many families in Mexico. We are encouraged to think about traditions and modernity.

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