Heart Of Time

Heart Of Time


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Mountain people in Mexico’s Chiapes district are not militant in the way that journalists like to portray left-wing activism. They call themselves Zapatistas, yet the famed rebel leader Zapata was gunned down after being promised immunity by government forces more than 50 years ago. What Alberto Cortes’s film is about is tradition, compassion and the concept of communal living.

Miguel’s father has presented Sonia’s father with a cow upon the agreement of the young people’s marriage. They shake hands without even involving, or asking Sonia, who has other ideas, being in love with Julio, a rebel soldier. She refuses to go along with the arrangement.

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A meeting is called. The entire village attends. The aggrieved (Miguel) and the aggravatress (Sonia) have their say, as do the council members. It is fair minded, civilised and well handled, so much so that a suspicion of propaganda seeps into the minds of cynical observers.

This is docudrama at a basic level. Without commentary it is difficult to comprehend the nature of what appears to be a military stand off between rebels and soldiers, both of whom wear similar green uniforms. The government forces have armoured vehicles, while the rebels act more like guerrillas and use the jungle forests as camouflage.

There are no scenes of atrocity, involving the murder of innocents, and not a shot is fired in anger. This is Sonia’s story and, to a lesser extent, her granny’s. The old lady, always beautifully turned out in peasant cotton, toothless and sweet natured, with a wicked sense of humour, tells her granddaughters how she ran away with her own true love, against her family’s wishes, and has lived in hardship in the mountains every since.

The acting is non professional. For example, Julio’s passion for Sonia should be taken as read because it looks less than convincing. Perhaps suppression of emotion is a feature amongst the Zapatistas, although the opposite is more likely to be the case, especially if Sonia’s granny is anything to go by.

Reviewed on: 04 Mar 2009
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Is love stronger than duty in the heartland of Mexico's rebel community?

Director: Alberto Cortés

Writer: Hernann Bellinghaussen, Alberto Cortés

Starring: Rocío Barrios, Francisco Jiménez, Marisela Rodríguez, Doña Aurelia, Leonardo Rodríguez

Year: 2009

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Mexico

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