May 2019 Newsletter

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 domestic workers , 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.  

D Day

It was quite poignant that I visited Normandy, France two weeks ago, especially when D Day’s 75 th anniversary is nearing on June 6, 2019.
I wondered about the spark of idea that culminated in the biggest seaborne invasion in history, when 156,000 soldiers launched into 5 beaches along the Normandy Coast to start the liberation of Europe from the hands of Nazi Germany.

Although the United States chose US Army general Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Allied ground forces commander was British General Bernard Montgomery, the initialled detail planning fell on British Lt.-General Frederick Morgan, Chief of Staff, Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC) to begin the detailed planning of what became known as Operation Overlord. Eventually, two million Allied forces were in France by the end of August 1944. From the first steps in Normandy, it still took a year for Europe to be liberated and VE Day was declared on May 7, 1945 .

To many historians, it was one of the most risky, military operations in history, and yet the spark, the idea that the Allies will prevail is so ambitious and daring that it can only be created by a master fictional alchemist.

Whether it is non-fiction or fictional, all these products of the imagination make for a great novel, a magnificent film, or the greatest seaborne invasion in history.

It starts with an idea. 

Walking through Omaha Beach, one of the five beaches in which Allied sodiers captured in D Day, was a moving experience. I could only imagine the absolute fear the soldiers felt as they stormed the beaches that day. I pray that history does not repeat itself and that acts of extreme violence and mayhem belong to a distant past. But humans have a reputation for not learning the lessons of the past. What does the future hold?

Share your thought by emailing me at mayet@mayetligadyuhico.com