Roma, an ode to childhood
To Alfonso Cuaron, Academy Award winning director of “Gravity”, one idea gnawed at him - to recreate a specific moment in time in his childhood, specifically when his father left the family home in the neighborhood of Roma, Mexico.
The task seemed impossible to recreate, but Cuaron was not only a directorial genius, but a magician of the first order to persuade his crew to recreate his childhood from scratch.
It involved recreating the childhood home of Cuaron in Roma. As explained by the movie’s production designer Eugenio Caballero, who won an Oscar for Pan’s Labyrinth -
It’s the heart of the film,” said Caballero. “For the interior, they did not want to use a soundstage. Instead, they took a house slated for demolition and rebuilt it. We wanted real tile and brick and plaster. This gave us the opportunity to create the house Alfonso remembered. We didn’t have that many pictures. The ’70s was an iconic strong design era, but the period, we noticed, was ’60s, ’50s, ’40s, all decades — cars, design, architecture. All these things were mixed and blended. We wanted to contrast the social classes and worlds that collide in this city.”
Caballero also had to reconstruct an entire cosmopolitan city street, Avenida Insurgentes, from scratch when Cleo (inspired by Liborio ‘Libo’ Rodriguez, his real life nanny, whom Cuaron dedicates the movie to) rans after her charges in one magnificent long-shot scene. “Finding an open space to build in was so difficult (even a parking lot next to an abandoned sports stadium wasn’t big enough) that the location manager resorted to Google Maps,” Caballero explains.
Cleo is played by Yalitza Aparicio, a former pre-school teacher who never acted professionally in her life. Aparicio’s
Cleo is unceasingly magnanimous, unselfish, playing a vital role in the household while the chaos of Cuaron’s father’s abandonment slowly consumes everyone in the family.
“Libo, like so many
, they go beyond a normal job and take on all these roles that are supposed to be covered by the parents,” Cuarón says.
It might If there’s one movie you should see this year, it’s Roma. It’s emotionally stirring, brilliantly acted, flawlessly directed. In other words, just perfect.