Frida Film Review (2002), Two Hours Portrait of the Life of Frida Kahlo, A Key Figure in Mexican Art


Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is hard not to think about when it comes to Mexico. As a female painter, Frida Kahlo is an important figure who is very vocal and loyal in promoting local Mexican culture. He is widely known through several peculiarities that cannot be separated from his figure: the many self-portrait paintings he paints with the theme of a painting that is ‘heavy’ because it depicts the tragedy of life, including the exploration of the theme of death, and his appearance is often wearing the Tehuana traje, a traditional dress from the local community. Mexico and its accessories and hairstyles. Frida Kahlo’s complex life as a female painter is summed up in a two-hour portrait in the film Frida(2002), a film by female director Julie Taymor based on the biographical book written by female writer Hayden Herrera. A film that is able to bring us one step closer to the figure of Frida Kahlo.

Frida Film Review (2002)

The film Frida (2002) begins in 1925, bringing us to know Frida Kahlo who is still 18 years old who is free-spirited and full of passion and energy. The same year became an important point where Frida Kahlo’s life became very challenging: she got into a bus accident. The accident was very fatal impact for Frida. Many of his bones were broken, especially his spine and legs, so he became paralyzed. Lying in bed for so long, with the support of her parents who helped provide special painting tools, Frida Kahlo started painting.

Film Frida(2002) arranged in sequence. Although it cannot cover all the details of Frida Kahlo’s life, this film does not escape retelling important moments in Frida Kahlo’s life. Those moments include how Frida Kahlo mourns deeply after a miscarriage and the loss of her baby (in a bus accident in 1925, an iron stabbed into her stomach and damaged her uterus, unfortunately because this is not described in detail in the film), two marriages and one divorce with Diego Rivera (Diego divorced Frida, then proposed to her again for a long and lasting second marriage until Frida died), the amputation that cost him his left leg, his affair with Leon Trotsky, founder of the Red Army and Russian revolutionary, until his first solo exhibition in Mexico. Sadly, This film seems to give more of a portion to tell Frida Kahlo’s passionate and turbulent romantic relationship with muralist Diego Rivera, rather than explaining more clearly about Frida Kahlo’s own career as a female painter. However, some of Frida Kahlo’s phenomenal paintings and the inspiring life tragedy behind them are also described in this film.

The film Frida (2002) tries to present a unique local-traditional Mexican culture. Mexican-style music can not be separated into the background music. The scene in Teotihuacan, one of the historical sites of the Aztecs in Mexico, is as close to the theme of death as this theme is to Frida Kahlo. A glimpse of the ritual scene of Día de Muertos, a special day of remembrance of those who have died in Mexico. Tequila, as a Mexican alcoholic beverage served and consumed throughout the film. Everyday life where monkeys and Xolo Dogs are no strangers to roaming residential areas. Until the Tehuana traje which is often worn by Frida Kahlo, as in the original story.

Even so, this film does not explain in detail the political reasons why Frida Kahlo herself chose to wear the Tehuana traje, a traditional Mexican traditional dress—which is actually very important because it is a symbol of pride for one of the matriarchal communities in Mexico (the Isthmus of Tehuantepec) . Frida Movies(2002) also failed to explain in detail how Frida Kahlo’s view of values ​​personally, especially in interpreting communism and the Mexican Revolution of 1910. This view of communist values ​​is even more strongly narrated in the characterization of her lover and husband, Diego Rivera. Only one dialogue in the film depicts Frida Kahlo’s view, namely in the scene where she visits the United States for the first time with Diego and is interviewed by journalists. In the film Frida (2002) , he replied, “ I see the majesty that Diego sees. But all that American comfort is a myth. While the rich drink their cockelitos, thousands are starving. ”

The film Frida (2002) however remains a biographical summary of Frida Kahlo which helps the audience to get to know more about the life of this Mexican female painter. How she paints from the tragedy and bitterness of life, how she interprets painting as a way to be more empowered as an independent woman, how her paintings carry a very philosophical message. Salma Hayek, who plays Frida Kahlo in this film, also managed to display the strong and impressive figure of Frida Kahlo. This film also closes the story of Frida Kahlo’s life by symbolizing her death in an epic, artistic epilogue. Summarizing well how Frida Kahlo wanted to be burned (cremated) and not forgetting to quote what she wrote in her diary about death, “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.”

The typical Mexican Tehuana traje along with accessories full of flowers in her hair is one of the most visually striking impressions shown by the female painter Frida Kahlo, played by actress Salma Hayek in the film Frida (2002). Coupled with facial hair that he never hides in his self-portraits , even at that time, the acceptance of women’s facial hair , which tended to be juxtaposed with a masculine impression, was still not as good as it is today. As a painter, he often paints self-portraits— painting himself with the help of a mirror placed in a special position in his room. Even so, the reason why he often paints self-portraitsthere is no explicit mention in the dialogue or monologue of this film, only in symbolizing the scenes where Frida Kahlo spends her time painting alone in her room in the process of recovering or being treated for her physical condition. Exactly describes the reason indeed.

In the film Frida (2002), through the characterization of actress Salma Hayek, the figure of Frida Kahlo is described as a woman who does not stop fighting with all her might to keep on living. A rebellious woman, with free spirit and very strong will. He struggled and did not give up to be able to walk again, although a bus accident in 1925 really damaged his bones and caused paralysis. He also struggles to fight and at the same time embrace all the bitterness of the tragedy of his life, or the lives of others as well, through painting.

Some of Frida’s paintings are also included and told in this film. The painting “ Henry Ford Hospital ” (1932) can be seen at minute 1:03:34, against the backdrop of deep sorrow and pain after Frida Kahlo suffered a miscarriage. The painting “ A Few Small Nips ” (1935) at minute 1:19:45 is a tragic and ‘heavy’ one, but it is a form of deep reflection on the tragedy of other people’s lives in relation to the tragedy of his own life. He painted this painting after reading the news in the newspaper about a man who stabbed his girlfriend with a knife 22 times to death, but defended himself by ” in the court. Painting “ The Suicide of Dorothy Hale” (1938) at 1:26:30, “ Four Inhabitants of Mexico ” (1938) at 1:26:54, “ What the Water Gave Me ” (1938) at 1:27:06, and “ My Dress Hangs There ” (1933) at 1:27:17 minutes, also shown without further explanation about the background of the painting. His painting “ The Broken Column ” (1944) at minute 1:46:11 becomes an expression of himself who remains strong in the midst of the difficult therapy and surgery he has to undergo to support his spine. One of his most famous masterpieces , “ The Two Fridas” (1939), ‘repainted’ through a scene played by Salma Hayek at 1:43:17, becomes a symbol of Frida Kahlo’s despair after divorce and separation from Diego.

As a fellow artist and painter, her husband, Diego Rivera, admits that he really admires Frida Kahlo’s talent and paintings. This admiration was conveyed by Diego Rivera, played by Alfred Molina in Frida (2002), to the public at his wife’s first solo exhibition. “ I want to speak about Frida not as her husband, but as an artist. I admire her. Her work is acid and tender… hard as steel… and fine as a butterfly’s wing. I don’t believe… that ever before has a women put such agonized poetry on canvas, ” said Diego Rivera in the dialogue script for the film Frida (2002).

Regarding her romantic relationship with muralist Diego Rivera, the film Frida (2002) really gives a holistic picture of Frida Kahlo as a woman who is closely related to Diego Rivera, without losing herself. In Frida (2002), Frida Kahlo with the characterization of Salma Hayek, is described as an independent woman who can equalize her relationship with Diego in many ways. Including Frida’s affair with Trotsky, in the film Frida(2002), described clearly as ‘revealing’ Diego Rivera, who previously hurt Frida a lot after having an affair with Christine, the biological sister who was very close to Frida Kahlo. Including how Frida doesn’t want to be pitied in her health and bone condition, which is getting worse after her divorce from Diego Rivera.

One scene adapted from the original that is particularly impressive is in 1953 when Frida Kahlo continues to attend her first solo exhibition in Mexico, even though she is there still lying on her bed with her. Frida Kahlo, however, is indeed a woman who continues to try to fight-and-embrace every tragedy in life—until the very last second of her life.

The figure of Frida Kahlo in the film Frida (2002) represents every woman who is trying to survive, continuing to live even though life is full of tragedy. Every woman who does not stop because of limited conditions, to try to be empowered and independent, no matter what happens. Every woman who continues to express herself, through art on canvas. The figure of Frida Kahlo in the film Frida (2020) also represents every woman who places great pride in her local culture and her own country, and does not stop defending her in her own way, as Frida who will never leave her image from Tehuana traje.