Chicano Images in Film



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Chicano Studies 190

"Chicano Images in Film"

Mike Ornelas
This list represents a complete list of all possible essay paper questions. Select three questions and write a complete and thorough essay. Your response should each be 5-7 pages typewritten and double-spaced. The best responses clearly define the topic and/or question and are coherent, thorough, integrate classroom discussion and text materials and illustrations from the films. A fourth essay can be turned for extra credit. But this option should be discussed with the instructor. All assignments must be turned in by December 13, 2005.

1. Utilizing examples from the respective movies, compare and contrast High Noon and Salt of the Earth in terms of their respective political messages. What are their respective dominant political points of view and how is each reflected in the movie? What are their respective moral messages?


2. Both High Noon and Salt of the Earth feature strong female voices that articulate the films' moral messages. Explore how the female voice emerges in both films and how these voices articulate contrasting politics.
3. In what ways does El Norte illustrate what Victor Fuentes refers to as "dimensions of the indigenous and Hispanic popular traditions?" Illustrate this concept through the use of examples from the film and article.
4. In what ways does Henry Reyna, the main character in Zoot Suit, represent what Mauricio Mazon refers to as the "antithesis of the American hero?" Illustrate through examples from the film and article.
5. Critics have pointed out how Gregory Nava's El Norte utilizes magico-realistic techniques similar to those found in Latin American literature. Discuss this idea utilizing the film examples and the Fuentes article.
6. Fregoso argues that Zoot Suit and La Bamba contain elements of the neo-Mayan Valdezian concept of In Lak'ech. Utilizing the Fregoso definition of this concept explore how these movies reflect this notion, particularly in the relationship between el Pachuco- Henry Reyna and Richie-Bob. In what ways are these examples consistent with the search for identity?
7. According to Fregoso, Zoot Suit and La Bamba privilege the masculine voice through their respective emphases on masculine discourse. Explore this question with reference to the films and the text. How does Fregoso argue that both central characters (el Pachuco and Bob) can be seen as "socially pathological," particularly in their relationships with women.
8. How can Born in East L.A. be regarded as an example of humor utilized as a devise for "subversive de-construction?" Define the concept and cite examples from the Fregoso text and the film.

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9. Strong male characters are central to three films viewed in class (Zoot Suit, La Bamba and American Me). Utilizing the Fregoso text and these films, critique this male image.


10. Fregoso argues that the Ballad of Gregorio Cortez depicts Gregorio Cortez as a kind of "mute-silent other" who is romanticized into a "noble savage." Her argument includes the notion that the Mexican/Chicano point of view is subordinated by the privileged position assigned to the film's multiple Anglo characters. Discuss these points with reference to the text and the film.
11. Explore how Ballad privileges bilingualism. Cite examples from the film and utilize the text to explore this question. How does language function in the original confrontation? For the newspaper reporter? For the jail interpreter? For the lone cowboy? For the Mexican community generally? For Cortez?
12. Utilizing both films (La Bamba and Zoot Suit) explain through examples how Valdez envisions "authentic culture." For Valdez, what is authentic culture? Show how this is discussed in the Fregoso text and represented in the two films.
13. Compare and contrast the main Chicano characters in Zoot Suit and Gregorio Cortez. Point out similarities and differences in terms of the character, the roles, and the image of Chicanos. To what extent do the main characters in both films symbolize what Mazon refers to as "the antithesis of the American hero?" How does The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez challenge the notion of the American hero?
14.. Discuss how Break of Dawn can be called a historical film. What major historical events are revealed in the story of Pedro Gonzalez? How was Pedro Gonzalez a victim of the events of the period? In what ways can this film be regarded as a "counter-voice?"
15. According to Fregoso Zoot Suit privileges the masculine voice through its emphasis on masculine discourse. Explore this question with reference to the film and the text. How does Fregoso argue that the central character (el Pachuco in particular) can be seen as "socially pathological," particularly in relation to women.
16. Discuss how el Pachuco (Zoot Suit) and Bob (La Bamba) represent elements of "Valdezian Chicano cultural authenticity." Use examples from the Fregoso text, class discussion and the films.
17. Fregoso points out that American Me "normalizes dominant culture's view of Chicanos as poverty-infested gangs." What does she mean by this? Discuss this with reference to the film.
18. Fregoso refers to Mi Vida Loca as a "splendid contradiction." What does she mean by this? Illustrate this conclusion with reference to the film and hand-out.

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19. Explore and interpret magical-realism in My Family. Or discuss the use of magial-realism in The Milagro Beanfield War.
20. According to Fregoso, American Me’s central thesis attributes Chicano criminal behavior to the dysfunctional nature of the Chicano family. Discuss the significance of the opening scene and other examples that seem to support this notion. According to Fregoso is this assessment accurate? Why or why not?


21. Fregoso examines role and spacial reversal in Born in East L.A., particularly as it relates to Rudy and his cousin Javier's and other characters. Explain the Fregoso concept and utilize examples from the text and film to explore this issue.
22. With reference to American Me explore the significance of the opening rape scene? How does Olmos illustrate the central theme of the absence of parental love as a major cause of gang criminal activity. Why does Fregoso challenge these notions and conclusions?
23. American Me runs the risk of perpetuating or reinforcing society=s stereotypes of Chicanos and Chicano gangs. Do you agree or disagree? Cite examples from the film, reading and class discussion.
24. Utilizing Mi Familia interpret, within the context of the film, the symbolic meanings or interpretations of the following: the Aappearances of the angels, the old woman (la curandera), el Californio, the owls (visual and aural), the cornfield, the bars, the rivers, the bridges, the helicopter sounds, Cihuateteo, the round table. Or interpret the meaning and symbolisms of the six offspring of Jose and Maria. Explain what each may mean within the context of the Chicano experience during the 20th century.
25. Discuss how Bread and Roses features strong female voices that articulate the films' moral messages. Explore how the female voice emerges and how this voice articulates the central political message.
26. Discuss how Luminarias contradicts the historic stereotype of Latinas in most Hollywood produced films. Focus on the four central characters and how they challenge stereotypes as represented in the literature.
27. Discuss how traditional Mexican values collide with the attempt at creating females as sovereign subjects in the film Real Women Have Curves. Identify and describe examples that elaborate upon and more fully explore this notion.
28. Rosa Linda Fregoso argues that My Family/Mi Familia presents an idealized and romanticized version of the Chicano family while Star Maps presents a dystopian and more complex portrait. Contrast these family images through selected examples and references to the films.

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29. David Carrasco argues that Roberto’s trek to the United States in Alambrista represents the “ominous excursion” (p. 218). Apply the concept to Roberto’s leaving Mexico and his experiences as he travels through the United States to various work locations.
30. Although not an overly religious film Alambrista “contains at least three scenes where a religious icon or ritual plays a transitional role or suggests a forthcoming transition.” Describe how these three scenes precede and predict a significant transition in Roberto’s life. For example, the image of la Virgen de Guadalupe is transitional to Roberto’s migration to the United States.




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