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“Modernized” La Llorona Is Still Worth Watching

Although+The+Curse+of+La+Lorrona+lacks+a+Latina+protagonist%2C+the+film+still+brings+attention+and+fame+to+the+old+tale+itself.+%28Courtesy+of+Flickr%29
Although The Curse of La Lorrona lacks a Latina protagonist, the film still brings attention and fame to the old tale itself. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Although The Curse of La Lorrona lacks a Latina protagonist, the film still brings attention and fame to the old tale itself. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Although The Curse of La Lorrona lacks a Latina protagonist, the film still brings attention and fame to the old tale itself. (Courtesy of Flickr)


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By Dane Salmon

The Curse of La Llorona, set to hit theaters in 2019, caused what some might call—putting it lightly—a “stir” among the Latino community and others. It has received flak from many Twitter users and others for its white woman lead, not being faithful to the original legend, the inability of the lead actress to correctly pronounce “La Llorona” and its misrepresentation of Mexican people in the casting choices.

For some context, La Llorona is a Latin American—but primarily Mexican—folk tale about a woman named Maria who marries a rich man, has two children, a son and a daughter, but notices eventually that her husband is falling out of love with her and only paying attention to the children.

One day, Maria’s husband leaves and does not return. Years later, Maria is walking next to a river with her children and spots her former husband riding in a carriage with a beautiful young woman. In a fit of confusion and grief, she throws her children into the river. When she realizes what she has done, she jumps into the river and drowns herself as well. At the gates of heaven, she asks where her children are and is denied entry until she can find them.

Because of this, she is condemned to search for her children for all eternity, constantly weeping for them, hence the name “La Llorona,” which means “the crying woman.”

In Spanish, this story is used by many in the Latin American community to keep their children from staying out too late, as La Llorona is said to kidnap and kill children who look like her son and daughter. But how did I know this story? I’m hardly Latin American. I know it because it was told to me as well, by my aunt, a former resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, born in Canyon, Texas. I doubt that this was done with malice or as an attempt to erase or “whitewash” Latin American culture. It’s just Hollywood, and this type of irresponsibility when it comes to treasured cultural artifacts is to be expected. The era of faithful storytelling by the movie industry at large is over, and has been for a long time.

Gone are the days when one could go to a movie theater and expect a faithful retelling of “The Odyssey,” for example. We now live in the days of ticket selling and massive budgets, with the movie industry intending to do nothing but pander to those who would give them the highest return on investment. Quality of film has been sidelined for “entertainment value” and box office sales.

I would love a faithful telling of this story to show on the big screen, as it’s a story from my childhood as well, but I have all but given up hope in good stories from Hollywood. Legends from all over the world would have a place in the movie theater if only directors were not concerned with making hundreds of millions, but rather on staying faithful to the story. As they say, sometimes it’s best to give the people what they need, not what they want.

Nevertheless, I am happy that this story is being represented on the big screen, albeit in a perverted form.

 

 

Dane Salmon, FCRH ’21, is a philosophy and economics major from Coppell, Texas.

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“Modernized” La Llorona Is Still Worth Watching