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Lizards in Movies
Que Viva Mexico (1932/1979)
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
Que Viva Mexico Que Viva Mexico Que Viva Mexico
Que Viva Mexico Que Viva Mexico Que Viva Mexico
This pseudo-documentary film was shot in Mexico in 1932 by the great Russian director Sergei Eisenstein who ran out of money and was never able to film everything he needed or edit any of it. The most complete version was edited in 1979 by the only one of the three filmmakers who was still alive. The edit was based on Eisenstein's notes and drawings. The cinematography is outstanding with wonderful depictions of a fiesta where people imitate Spanish conquistadors, a Day of the Dead celebration with people dancing in skull masks and children eating skull candy, penitents with cactus branches tied over their shoulders and pilgrims crawling up the cathedral stairs on their knees at the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a graphic bullfight sequence showing the celebration of animal torture for entertainment. There's also a sequence where a guest of an evil wealthy landowner exercises his right to take any young woman who is the fiance of one of his workers. Outraged, the girl's poor noble peasant worker fiance and his friends steal some guns and fight back until they are captured, tortured, and cruelly slaughtered. This is the sort of revolutionary propaganda that you expect from the Communist filmmaker, but that doesn't mean it seems false.

Early in the movie we see views of tropical Tehuantepec where a Matriarchal system is in place. We learn that a girl there starts works from an early age until she can earn enough gold coins to make a necklace that will be her dowery. Then she chooses a husband and brings him into their new house. The men seem to lie around in hammocks all day being fed coconut water by women. (Sign me up for some of that.)

To illustrate how girls work for their dowery, we see a market full of women selling fish, fruit, breads, baskets, and other items. One girl is sitting next to a pile of live spiny-tailed iguanas whose legs and mouths are tied up with strings. Some of them are trying to move around, others look half dead. She picks up a large one and strokes it on the side of the head like a pet, but it's obvious the lizards are destined to be roasted or stewed.

The lizards all seem to be Ctenosaura similis - Back Spiny-tailed Iguanas, which are native to that region. Like Green Iguanas, Spiny-tailed Iguanas are a traditional food in Mexico and Central America, known as "chicken of the trees."