Frida, Blu-ray (2002/2012)
Cast: Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Alfred Molino, Geoffrey Rush
Director: Julie Taymor
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Commentary track by Julie Taymor; Conversation with Salma Hayek; AFI Q&A with Julie Taymor; Bill Moyers’ Interview with Julie Taymor; Chavela Vargas interview (singer); The Vision, Design and Music of Frida; Salma’s recording sessions; The real locations; Portrait of an artist; 2 visual effects pieces: Amoeba Proteus / The Brothers Quay; The voice of Lila Downs
Length: 123 minutes
Selma Hayek’s nomination for Best Actress was just one of six Academy Award Nominations for this exceptional filmic portrait of the Mexican surrealist painter and her tumultuous marriage to the Mexican mural painter Diego Rivera – beautifully played by Alfred Molino. Frida Kahlo lived an unforgettable life full of joys and pain, and made herself the subject of most of her paintings. Both partners in the on-and-off marriage had scandalous affairs—Frida’s of a bisexual nature.
In the second part of the film Rush as Leon Trotsky, trying to escape from Stalin’s goons, comes to stay with the pair. Their involvement in the Communist Party is shown, including the disaster when during his work on a mural at Rockefeller Center, Rivera refuses to change the image of Lenin in the painting and Rockefeller pays him but has the entire mural destroyed. The cinematography and design is lush and colorful. Some of the effects—such as Frida’s paintings coming to life—are truly spectacular. It is hard to believe this was a low-budget production—everything about it works perfectly. And Hayek’s performance is note-perfect; the physical resemblance to the artist is not only just the famous monobrow.
Kahlo’s longtime suffering from the multiple fractures she sustained in a horrible 1925 bus crash are shown. She had over 30 follow-up operations during her lifetime and while sometimes she is shown dancing or climbing a pyramid with Trotsky, but at other times she is bed-ridden in a cast, doing her painting with a special easel and a mirror over her bed. Some movie bios of artists can be a bit boring; not this one. The Taymore interview with Moyers is fascinating. The Blu-ray transfer is excellent. It would have been nice to have English subtitles for the lyrics of the Spanish songs. (They always seem to forget that; it’s even very useful for songs in English!)
Perhaps the best Blue Note Records documentary yet…