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México de mi corazón and nationalism

by Veronica Paredes

México de mi corazón is a musical romantic comedy about two pocha cousins – Lupe and Maria (played by ranchera singers Lola Beltrán and Lucha Villa) – who return to Mexico. Despite being a nationalistic film enamored with Mexico City, the film actually begins in Los Angeles. The film’s opening locates the (North?) American city as a center of the glamorous world of cinema, which is described in the film’s voice over as one of “the greatest dreams created by Man.” It goes on to explain: This is the city of Los Angeles, where “dreams and golden fantasies” are made.

Throughout the film, México de mi corazón offers a unique interpretation of an Angeleno dream.  Ultimately, it adjusts focus, away from the entertainment industry and toward “the Mexican world in Los Angeles” – whose members (the film narrates) “feel an irreplaceable love for their Mexico.” The two main characters desire, more than fame and celebrity, a homecoming. After winning a singing contest at the Million Dollar Theater, Lupe and Maria’s shared dream is cinematically realized as they are awarded a trip “home.” From the start of their return to an unfamiliar country of origin, the two cousins are effusive in their deep respect and love for Mexico. Eagerly singing “Soy Puro Mexicano” (“I Am Pure Mexican”) on their drive across Los Angeles’s freeways en route to the airport, the cousins embark on a journey that will fulfill their “golden fantasies” of national reunion.

The film indulges just such a fantasy, a return to Mexico that is absent of rejection or ridicule. Villa and Beltrán as “pochas” will experience no problems returning to a homeland they have never visited before and their reunion with Mexico becomes the film’s true love story.  So intense is the main characters’ love for Mexico that the individual love stories pale in comparison, even as the formation and security of these heterosexual relationships predicate the cousin couple’s authentic return to their true beloved - Mexico.

As David Maciel puts it in his essay “Pochos and Other Extremes in Mexican Cinema; or, El Cine Mexicano se va de Bracero, 1922-1963” this “apparent strength” of the cousins’ admiration for Mexico “is the film’s main problem.” Portrayed by popular ranchera singers (as I mentioned earlier), the actresses playing Lupe and Maria are well known to be Mexican - and represent their pocha-ness through the occasional use of Spanglish and American English slang. As superficial linguistic markers of difference, these gestures toward pochismo hardly begin to demonstrate the complexity of transnational citizenship negotiated by Mexican American women, in any historical period or American region. The utterances of “okay,” “Thank you, familia,” and “cara de gangster” instead appear as pretense, used to create a shallow depiction of the pocha only to show how quickly its subjects can be re-integrated it into Mexican nationalism.



Opening of Mexico de mi corazon

The opening of <México de mi corazón> profiles the Mexicans living in Los Angeles. It provides a very sympathetic rendering, however with a common feeling with Mexico predicated on nationalism and sorrow.

from México de mi corazón (1963)
Creator: Miguel M. Delgado
Distributor: Alter Films
Posted by Veronica Paredes