John Huston’s film version of the novel “Under the Volcano” finally opened here to mixed reviews and some irate feelings about what critics say is a negative portrayal of Mexico.
The major Mexico City newspaper Excelsior wrote that the movie “is a humiliating vision of Mexico.”
The movie was made in Morelos state, southwest of Mexico City, in 1983 and opened to enthusiastic reviews at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. It also was treated respectfully by critics in the United States, while Albert Finney was nominated for an Academy Award as best actor for his portrayal of the drunken consul headed toward his destruction.
However, its opening this spring in Mexico has been less successful.
“The tropical jungle, the bordello, the Little Virgin, the bull, the tequila, the sugar candy skull, return to showing, for what is now a tiresome time, the image of Mexico in this movie. It seems that Mexico has nothing else going for it in the eyes of the foreigner, specifically of the American,” the Excelsior article said.
Malcolm Lowry’s novel is set in the 1930s in Cuernavaca, the resort city that is the capital of Morelos state, 45 miles southwest of Mexico City. It has become something of a cult work over the years and, although many scripts were written, none was brought to the screen until Huston filmed it.
The Mexican government is a co-producer of the movie.
“Here, Cuernavaca, the whole country, is not under the volcano but rather under the boot of foreign power,” Excelsior wrote. The article made clear that the reservations were about the movie and not about Lowry’s novel, which generally is considered by Mexicans to be among the best books written by a foreigner about Mexico.
The newspaper El Universal also expressed serious reservations about “Under the Volcano.”