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Surprisingly, I Loved Frida

I don’t often see movies and comment on them even less often. Perhaps that says something about the state of movies, or perhaps it says something about my age.

It’s not that I can’t find movies that I like. I can. I enjoyed Lord of the Rings enough to buy the CD, though not enough to buy it a second time, and I enjoyed children’s movies like Shrek, Monster, Inc., and Harry Potter. Unfortunately, enjoying a movie isn’t the same as being affected or moved by it. Although I enjoyed Jonathon’s analysis of Lord of the Rings and have noted some of the arguments over whether Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings is more “Christian,” I personally didn’t feel any more need to examine them than I feel a need to examine the ethical ramifications of Warcraft III that I’m currently playing.

Frida is an altogether different kind of movie, one that could rightfully be called an “adult” movie. It is one of the few movies I’ve seen recently that was both entertaining and thought provoking. For those of us only familiar with Frida through her art, it provided insights into her life that made the art even more accessible and meaningful. The creative cutting of actual works of art into scenes in the movie was an effective way to comment on both her life and her art, not to mention adding visual excitement.

Second, the movie provided a snapshot of a period of Mexican history that I knew next to nothing about, making me realize just how narrow my view of Mexico is. It’s amazing how little Mexican history, or Canadian history, for that matter, is taught in American schools. If I hadn’t lived several years in California as a youth I’m sure I would know even less about their history or culture.

More importantly, though, the movie raised the question of what it means to be “liberated,” and what price one pays for such liberation. The movie portrayed Frida as a strong, if not willful child who wanted to live life her own way. She did end up living life her own way

It’s clear Frida’s liberation contributed to, even made possible, her artwork. It’s unlikely a more conventional woman could ever have seen the world in the ways she did or have achieved her status in the art world. In this sense, being liberated was a positive force in her life. When you examine the pain that Frida and Diego caused each other that very pain may well have contributed to the appeal of Frida’s work.

Still, you have to question whether that success wasn’t bought at too great a price. Diego’s affair with Frida’s sister was but one example of how Diego’s cheating made Frida miserable. Her affair with Trotsky seemed to have the same effect on Diego. At times you’re left wondering whether Frida had the affairs because she enjoyed them or simply because she wanted to make Diego suffer. The drinking in their circle seemed excessive, and few of them seemed to be really enjoying life.

Despite my enthusiastic endorsement, I noticed that reviews of the movie have been mixed. The movie certainly more than earned its “R” rating and some of the sex scenes were, at least for me, a little shocking. Still, it inspired me to explore the net to find out more about Frida, and it’s been a long time since any movie has affected me that much.