Olivier Assayas's film on the aftermath of May 1968 is infantile ultra-leftism
LIKE I say, I get around. Sometimes, though, I even surprise myself.
Filming Pancho recounts in engaging detail and abundant anecdote the history of US cinema's engagement with the Mexican revolution.
From the early newsreels of Pathe, Universal and Hearst - many of which were shamelessly re-enacted -Â to feature films and even cartoons, the grand vision of the gringos' "civilising mission" was served by their lackeys in the movie industry.
And Orellana demonstrates just how the mindless servility permeating the capitalist media, particularly at times of imperial conquest, was well in place 100 years ago and obediently delivering xenophobic, racist drivel.
But one example is an editorial in the US newspaper Independent (sic) on the eve of US intervention in Mexico to eliminate Pancho Villa and his troublesome guerillas in 1916 .
"It may become our destiny to extend the borders of the US to the south - not for our own aggrandisement or profit, but for the sake of the people of those troubled regions, for the sake of the peace and good order of the Western Hemisphere, of which we are in a real sense the rightful guardians," it intoned piously.
Early examples of news management abound, with one of the most notorious examples being the treatment of Pancho Villa's peasant army.
They had just taken Ciudad Juarez and the struggle to overthrow the reactionary president Victoriano Huerta, implicated in the assassination of Villa's progressive ally President Francisco Madero, was gaining momentum.
For a while Villa was the good guy who was not overtly hostile to US interests in the country.
He thus became a celebrity and, seeing the PR potential of the new media, he signed an exclusive deal with the Mutual Film Corporation.
This obliged him to conduct all battles in broad daylight to facilitate filming and produce "moving picture thrillers" on a weekly basis until Huerta was deposed.
It proved to be a money-spinner probably only to be surpassed in contemporary times by the Avatar blockbuster. Audiences flocked in droves, attracted by the novelty of this "news" presentation.
In one comical interlude during that pre-talkie era a pianist accompanying the screenings was perturbed by his own ignorance of Mexican musical themes and sent an SOS letter to Moving Picture World, the most prestigious industry publication of the time.
In no time he had a reply. Battle scenes, it was suggested, required "heavy and stormy" melodies and "strenuous action" could be enhanced by Mexican patriotic songs and hymns - providing they didn't offend the audience.
And the odd Spanish waltz or habanera could be thrown in for good measure.
This and the other gems Orellana has unearthed makes Filming Pancho a treasure trove for any cinema buff, radical or no.
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