Eisenstein in Guanajuato

Synopsis: The venerated filmmaker Eisenstein is comparable in talent, insight and wisdom, with the likes of Shakespeare or Beethoven; there are few - if any - directors who can be elevated to such heights. On the back of his revolutionary film Battleship Potemkin, he was celebrated around the world, and invited to the US. Ultimately rejected by Hollywood and maliciously maligned by conservative Americans, Eisenstein traveled to Mexico in 1931 to consider a film privately funded by American pro-Communist sympathizers, headed by the American writer Upton Sinclair. Eisenstein's sensual Mexican experience appears to have been pivotal in his life and film career - a significant hinge between the early successes of Strike, Battleship Potemkin, and October, which made him a world-renowned figure, and his hesitant later career with Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible and The Boyar's Plot.
Director(s): Peter Greenaway
Production: Submarine
  2 wins & 9 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
105 min

In 1931, the Russian

film director Sergei Eisenstein

travelled to Mexico to make a film.

It was tentatively to be called

iQue viva Mexico!

Eisenstein had a worldwide fame

based on the reputation of only three films,

all made in Soviet Russia.

Strike, a violent tale of civilian unrest

viciously crushed by authority,

The Battleship Potemkin, a violent account

of a naval mutiny over rotten meat,

and October, a violent celebration

of the Russian Revolution.


In the West, the film October

was called Ten Days That Shook The World.


This present film might be called

Ten Days That Shook Eisenstein.




I arrive accompanied by flies.

They have been with me ever since

I crossed the Mexican border.

I brought them with me from Moscow.


I recognise them.

They are Soviet flies, spy flies...

Russian accents,

a growling, gruff, ill-mannered buzz.

They have bloodshot eyes, like me.

Do I have bloodshot eyes?

Do I have bloodshot eyes?

Do I have bloodshot eyes?

Do I have bloodshot eyes?

Of too much looking. Too much...

Too much looking.

- Diego.

- Sergei, my friend!

- You're welcome.

- Grazie.

- Frida.

- Sergei.

- Bienvenido.

- Encantado.

Jorge Palomino Caedo.

Your Guanajuato guide.

Sergei Eisenstein.

Sometimes a Russian film director

or Russian film director retired.

Ah. This is Aleksandrov.

Always an actor.

- Frida.

- Grisha.

And this is Eduard Tisse, cameraman.

The cameraman.

- Frida.

- Tisse.

Please take the suitcases.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen.

Hey, look.





Put all the red books over there.

All the books with

the blue markers over there.

All English books by the bed.

All American books under the bed.




- Can I help?

- There is a trick, isn't there?

What am I doing wrong?

I expect nothing.

We don't have showers in Moscow.

In fact, we don't have showers in Russia.

Baths, Turkish baths.

And wash basins.

Sometimes we have running water.

Sometimes we have water.

Sometimes we have just the empty taps.

Sometimes we have to

break the ice in the tank.


We don't wash.


- What are you laughing about?

A Russian body. Very white.

We rarely see the Sun in Moscow,

and we never undress in public.

- Then I can't be public.

- Public enough.

That's his.

And a very well-fed body.

Pea-soup, pickled cabbage,

salty bacon, sour milk, turnips?

When we can get it.

See you at breakfast?

Tortillas, tamales, chicken burritos,

chimichangas, sopecitos,

huarachitos, pan de muerto...

Hey! Warm water?

Being naked in public?

Or a response to an amiable young man?

Signor Prick, behave!

He's handsome, it's true. (CHUCKLES)

And he's seen you, it's true.

But you are a foreigner

with a Russian passport,

a limited visitor's visa,

and very little sexual experience.

You would be woefully disadvantaged.

Besides, you are here to make a film with me,

and I need your frustrations

to feed my imagination.

No dissipation.

It leads to a dilution of energy.


I am a boxer

for the freedom of cinematic expression.

I have never had my shoes shined for me.

We don't do those sorts of things

any more in Soviet Russia.

You're in Mxico.

Why don't you try it?


- S.



I'm behaving like a colonial grandee.

Shining shoes is tantamount to kissing feet.

Who kisses feet any more?

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Peter Greenaway

Peter Greenaway, CBE (born 5 April 1942 in Newport, Wales) is a British film director, screenwriter, and artist. His films are noted for the distinct influence of Renaissance and Baroque painting, and Flemish painting in particular. Common traits in his film are the scenic composition and illumination and the contrasts of costume and nudity, nature and architecture, furniture and people, sexual pleasure and painful death. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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