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Marcario - please comment below

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 9 months ago

Film Review: Macario


Film Info


91 minutes

black and white



The Mexican film Macario (1960) weaves a tale of magical realism - with special appearances by God, the Devil and Death. It all begins on the Day of the Dead, when a peasant named Macario goes on a hunger strike. Macario vows he won't eat again until he can dine like a rich man - with an entire turkey all for himself. Eventually, he gets his wish (thanks to some pilfering on the part of his wife). But Macario cannot eat his meal in peace. He is visited in turn by God, the Devil and Death, each of which asks for a portion of his feast. Macario wisely declines the Devil and asks mercy from God, but he tries to bargain with Death. In exchange for some of the turkey, Death grants Macario a powerful gift - a vial of water able to cure any illness.

The story of Macario is based on the novel The Third Guest by the writer known as B. Traven. It is said he drew the plot from a Mexican folk tale. Traven's story The Third Guest was adapted for the screen by writer-director Roberto Gavaldon. Gavaldon was one of Mexico's leading directors from the 1940s - 70s. Under Gavaldon's care, Macario received international recognition, earning Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Foreign Film.

Following the film, we will have a discussion on the following topics:

The pain of poverty and deprivation

Personnel obsession

Organization of the family

Relations between the rich and the poor. Please start comments here...















Please start comments here...




[Dave Roberts, dlr4@geneseo.edu, 10-4]


1.) E. Ideology/Symbolism: Throughout the course of his bizarre journey to eat his turkey all by himself, Macario encounters people representing the Devil (temptation), God (salvation), and Death (the power of mortality.) These encounters give the story the simplistic, folkish values of fables passed down through many, widely varying cultures.


2.) E. Ideology/Symbolism: The elements of supernatural in an otherwise normal setting give this story an element of "natural realism," a literary trope mainly present in Latin American literature. It is of note that this film was made in 1960, just before the boom of Latin American magical realistic literature of the 1960's from the likes of Alejo Carpentier and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


3.) C. Economics: Although this film is obviously a piece of entertainment with little to no true anthropological value, it does make a statement on class in Mexico. The fact that Macario feels that he and his family are merely slowly "starving to death" while abundances of food are brought to the wealthy deceased illustrates that stratifications in class and standard of living for Mexicans living in poverty.



[Larkin Kimmerer, llk5@geneseo.edu, 10/4]

1. Economics: The family clearly lived in a poor, rural area but would travel to the city with some frequency because that was how they made money. The wife did laundry for a rich woman, and Macario sold firewood to the baker. There was a highly visible gap between rich and poor in the movie.


2. Ideology: Religion was very strong in this movie, especially with the relationship between the supernatural and the people. Like Dave said, Macario meets the Devil, God, and Death on his quest for a turkey, which makes clear the religious aspects of the story.


3. Ideology: The flask of water that can save lives is a symbol that seems to turn up a lot, because in every culture there is someone who cheats death, or tries to extend life, etc. This culture is no different, and the story reflects some of the same cultural/religious values.







[Heather Warren, hrw1@geneseo.edu, 10/5]




  1. Environment: The environment in this film certainly reminded me of when I visited Mexico. Both the environment and living styles and clothing seemed to be accurate enough.
  2. Ideology / Symbolism: The symbolism in the film was certainly interesting as well as deep. When Macario asks for 100 weight of gold to cure that rich man’s wife and then only really takes 10, that certainly says a lot!
  3. Ideology / Symbolism: I also liked the myth / story that is portrayed in this movie. Unlike most ethnographic films, this one explores a legend by bringing it to life for the viewers. An interesting technique if you think about it.





[Dan McConvey, dpm5@geneseo.edu, 10/7/]




Economics- The family compared to the rich family that the mother works for shows class stratification with Mexican culture. The rich woman rudely turns her away for not doing her job correctly.

Ideology- The class stratification seems to fall apart momentarily as Macario says that he can cure the sick rich woman. The idea that Macario can somehow magically cure this woman creates a temporary role reversal where the rich man is willing to bargain with a poor man. This temporary role reversal is further emphasized when it is immediately switched back following the magical act of curing her. Macario knows his place and does not ask for the 100 ounces of gold to which he is entitled.

Symbolism- Macario is a very strong character in this story. He is given extreme power when he is given this water that can clearly cure anyone. He has the ability to rise above everyone and pick and choose who should and should not live. In allowing the rich woman to live we see that he truly is a symbol of goodness. He does not seem to think that he has the right to play God among humans.







Jonathon Baker, jlb22@geneseo.edu, 10/10]






1- Ideaology/Symbolism- I think the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico is very fascinating. All those skeletons and heads. It is a Catholic holiday, but I feel that the practices here would be considered by some to be grotestque and strange. I think it is a very cool holiday though because you do spend a lot more time dead than alive.



2- Economics- I wonder sometimes why it is that there is such a huge gap between the rich and the poor in Mexico compared to the United States. Is it because there was a larger middle class in Britain than there was in Spain? You would think that by now though that things would be different. Obviously, the film shows the same large gaps in wealth back then as the current gaps we discussed in class.



3- Ideaology- I thought it was very interesting that Macario was so obsessed with eating a whole turkey by himself. He obviously was poor but it didn’t seem like he was starving to death. I thought it was very touching that his wife fulfilled his dream by stealing a turkey and cooking it, keeping it hidden from the children. I hope I can find a woman who would do that for me.





[Elen De Oliveira, emd10@geneseo.edu, 10/10]




1. economics- It is obvious that there is a huge distinction between the poor and the rich in Mexico, at least during the time this film was made. There was the poor who, like Macario's family, never felt full and spent their lives "starving to death" and there was the rich who had whole turkeys for themselves, never lacking food or money. This film shows the effects this can have on a family as well as an individual person.


2. ideology/symbolism- The film makes it clear that religion is very important to the Mexicans. Macario dealt with the devil, God, and death differently according to what he knew this symbolized. His actions towards them and their words and actions highlight Mexican opinions of these symbols of religion as well as the role they play in daily life. The devil should never be bargained with or listened to, God is one you should be humble and honest in front of and death is something you want to avoid at all costs.


3. kinship and family- family appears to be very important in the film becuase the parents often don't eat in order to feed their children and they will spend their last dime in efforts to make their children happy. The fact that Macario's wife was willing to steal, kill and cook a turkey for her husband to eat all by himself while she and her children remained hungry, shows the love and dedication she has for her husband. The family also seemed to depend on the father to do something when the son was dying. Even before they knew he could cure him, they were waiting for him to arrive exclaiming that he would know what to do.





Charlie Genao cg7@geneseo.edu 10/11/07


1. Economics/Political Maricario family was very poor and he always sacrificed his food for his kids. I liked how the film portrayed women because the wife was very helpful and had a lot of influence. It kinda showed different sides of power. There is a wide gap between the rich and the poor and the film.


2. Religion: Religion is a very powerful symbol in the movie with spirits and so forth but greed is still seen in the main character and the effects of poverty can have on people are expresses without question. I liked how in the end it was only a dream and Marcario was dead from the beginning and it was the wife who was telling the story.


3. Kinship: Family is the central unity of Latin American Society and I believe it is this film shows the kinship and the power of the family. In Latin American/Carribean literature Magical Realism is used to explian moral conepts and beliefs that people oght to follow which is very cool. American culture is very scientific in the sense that everything has to be straight foward. In Latin America they tend to be more indirect and forces you to think outside your "cultural box"



[Lanh Nguyen, ltn2@geneseo.edu, 10/10]


Ideology/symbolism: The Day of the Dead is an extremely interesting holiday. It’s completely opposite from what we as Americans do because instead of celebrating the wonderful lives of our ancestors and the recently deceased, we tend to forget about them and find it extremely painful to talk about in public.


Kinship: I found it extremely rude and selfish of Macario to demand a whole turkey for himself. Maybe it’s just me, but I know that my mother would NEVER demand an entire turkey for herself. She would starve to death before she allowed any of her children to.


Ideology/symbolism: it was interesting to see that Macario shared the turkey with Death rather than God. I suppose it’s symbolic in the sense that it was the day of the dead, and who else would you rather share something with than death himself, right?




{Isobel Connors, icc2@geneseo.edu, 10/11}




IDEOLOGY:  Marcario and the villagers are Catholic and worship the Holy


Virgin. They believe they must appease their God with offerings to earn

good fortune.



MARRIAGE: There are very distinct gender roles in their society--the

women are responsible for all internal aspects of life (raising children

and keeping house)and the men take care of external affairs (earning a

living and political affairs).



IDEOLOGY: The villagers are very superstitious of witchcraft. Sorcery is

punishable by imprisonment and death.




[Steph Aquilina, sma8@geneseo.edu, 10/11]


Film: Macario


1. IDEOLOGY/SYMBOLISM: This film began with depictions of the Day of the Dead celebration, where the spirits are celebrated joyously. The Nahua believed that Death is hidden in the liver or stomach, or heart when a person is born. Macario’s dream sequence indicated the human desire for some magical potion to prolong life, but when Macario finally entered the cavern, he saw that a burning candle represented each living individual. He was reminded that there is a higher order that no one can access, which determines everyone’s fates; no matter how alluring a magical potion to prolong life would be, death cannot be avoided.

2. ECONOMICS: There is a huge disparity in wealth distribution. The poverty level that Macario reached made him desperate to rise in social class and resources. He wanted a taste of “higher” life for himself (illustrated by a full turkey on which to feast), but when a man who was even more hopeless approached him, Macario became relatively wealthy, and could not deny the man’s plea.

3. POLITICS: The Inquisition was a powerful force that resulted in Macario’s arrest; he was believed to be a sorcerer and thought to be working with the devil. The police searched his house, telling his family that they were all heretics and must learn about true authority. They created an obscure test to determine if he was a charlatan or a sorcerer, and put his life at their discretion. END



[Shamiran Warda, sw11@geneseo.edu, 10/11]


Film: Macario


Economics: What was apparent from this movie was the huge gap between the rich and the poor families. But what was more surprising was how much more the poor people were giving then that of the rich. For instance, in the movie Macario was unable to heal one man, thus he refused the money given to him, whereas the rich man wanted all the money from the widow. Maybe that is why the rich are rich, because often times they are stingy with their money. Another thing I noticed that might tie to the economy aspect was how large the families of the poor were compared to the rich. Why is this? Is it because the poor have more kids in hopes that someday the children will help support the rest of the family? Or more to live on the family name.


Ideology/symbolism: Macario’s dream as the puppet master, controlling the small puppets was symbolic in that it showed the role that he had within his family. Appentely, the puppets Macario was controlling was supposed to symbolize his family. And he controlling them meant the lives of his children and wife was all in his hands, meaning he was the man in charge; to provide and protect them. The candles were also portrayed differently in the movie. In this movie, the candles represented life and when the candle went out, your life ended with the flame; like much often life is compared to an hour glass.


Ideology/symbolism: The religion seemed very important in this wonderfully made movie. What I noticed was when people were questioning Macario’s powers in healing, some of the people would respond that it was the Virgin Mary’s doing; like she is the one responsible for teaching him to heal. Overall, I was just amazed with the relationship between the supernatural and the people. I liked how at the end God, the Devil, and Death were all tied together, thus making the movie more apparent about religion and life. END



[Lok Yung Yam, ly5@geneseo.edu, 10/11]




1. Kinship/Marriage: It was interesting how the Mexican families were so similiar to ours. Rather than having large communal dependent families, they live only with their immediate family.


2. Politics: Religious groups were essentially the most powerful people in Macario. It was disturbing how easily the church got to Macario, despite his miraculous work.


3. Economics: I can really see and understand the rigid social hierarchy that was based almost solely on how much money someone had. Macario became upper class overnight just from having money, but normal people don't usually get super powers.



[Laurie Sadofsky, las22@geneseo.edu, 10/12]

Film Review: Macario

1.Economics/Politics: The rich in the film are depicted as greedy and ungrateful. In his dream, even when he becomes wealthy, he still does not take advantage of people. He accepts sheep as payment because he understands the hardship of being poor. On the other hand, the rich man wanted to take the money of a person who Macario could not cure. The rich have all the power, but none of the compassion.

2. Kinship/Marriage: In the film, the role of money-maker is shared by Macario and his wife. They do not live the life of luxury but both work hard and appear to suffer despite their efforts.

3. Ideology/ Symbolism: The fact that Macario is destined to die in a dream and then does actually die shows the belief those who made the film have in dreams. In American films and television shows, people have an epiphany after a dream; they are not subject to the results of their dream. An obvious role of ideology is the presence of the Devil and God.




[Rebecca Coons, rsc2@geneseo.edu, 10/12]

Film Review: Marcario


1. Kinship/Marriage - I noticed how the film provided evidence of gender roles as well as the significance of one's family in Nahua society. I was shocked at Marcario's desire to have an entire turkey to himself even if it meant his children would starve. I couldn't help but think maybe if he had less children, but in their culture family is a lifeline and the bigger your family, the more of a lifeline you have. It was still shocking though that he was that desperate to go just one time not feeling poor. It gave some insight into how bad life really can get.

2. Economics - Obviously the class roles were prominant in this film. Marcario was so poor that he had never once known what it was like to have something all to himself. I'm the middle child, so I can relate (a little anyway). He didn't hold a grudge though and when he saved the rich man's wife, he allowed the man to pay him a low amount because he didn't want to be resented. It shows that even though Marcario was of a low class, he had a high moral caliber (also evidenced when he shared the turkey with Death).

3. Religion/Symbolism - The twist at the end - that it was all a dream - was a very Hollywood ending. The concept of God, Death, and the Devil coming along also reminded me of "A Christmas Story" with the ghost of Christmas Past, etc. It seems like the story was meant to teach a lesson, the way a lot of fantasy/supernatural stories do.





(Cameron Mack, cfm6@geneseo.edu, 10/13)




Economics: The role of class played an essential part in this film. Had there not been such a clear distinction between the rich and the poor, the film would not have been as effective in getting its message across. Macario was at the very bottom of the social order, as a wood deliveryman for the baker, until he receives the gift from the being he helps. This catapults him to the top of the social order, but not necessarily the political order.

Politics: As Macario slowly grows in popularity, the men who were previously in positions of power begin to take notice and envy/hate him for his success. These feelings, which continue to grow in them, cause them to take action (mostly the Doctor) against a man who is bringing happiness, health, and hope to people who had been nothing but mistreated. It is unfortunate that this probably happens frequently in this day and age.

Ideology/Symbolism: The concept of Macario being faced with symbols of God, the Devil, and Death was a unique idea; similar to that of the traditional Scrooge story. The way that the film chooses to use the images of the eternal spirits plays into the culture of the time, much like the Scrooge story. There are many parallels between the two stories, making them interesting to compare.




[Dilek Canakci, dc11@geneseo.edu, 10/14]





Economics: There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor. This film makes it obvious that the opinion of the poor have no value. We see that Macario’s family is always hungry due to the shortage of food and this is what angers Macario the most.



Economics: We see the labor that the poor go through and how little the get in exchange for their awfully restless lives.


Kinship/Marriage: The roles of men and women were obvious. Macario was the man of the house who worked to feed his family and his wife stayed home, cooked, cleaned, and took care of their children. Finances were none of the wife’s business and Macario made this clear when his file asked where he got the potion from.



[Jennifer Ritzenthaler, jkr5@geneseo.edu, 10/14/07]




1.Kinship-The relationships within Marcario’s family are so strong that his wife is willing to sacrifice a lot for her husband. They all rely on each other through good times and bad. The people that live around Marcario’s family are also very close and come to help when Marcario’s son falls down a well.

2.Economy of Life-The only way that Marcario and his family can leave their life of not having much money and become rich is through a dream that Maracario has when he dies. This shows the real impossibility of social movement in his society.

3.Religion-Marcario decides to never trust the devil but he doesn’t share his turkey with the devil or God. His willingness to share with God if God truly wants the turkey shows that he does have some Catholic morality or background. When he is charged with witchcraft for healing people and knowing who will live or die, it shows the religious atmosphere of the time.




[Dan Lilly, djl5@geneseo.edu, 10/14]



kinship - Macario's wife really had a subordinate role throughout the movie, but it was interesting to see her strength at the end, when she found his body.

religion - the movie did a good job of showing how scary the Inquisition was, they really had almost complete power, and it was terrifying

economy - The portrayal of rich people certainly says a lot. There wasn't a single rich person that was respectable at all. There was the man that wanted to make a profit off of Macario, the jealous doctor, the stuffy and superstitious politicians and anybody else that was rich was just self-absorbed.






[Anne Kim, ak13@geneseo.edu, 10/16]




1. The huge gap in economics can be seen between the rich and the poor through the film. When Macario is poor, he cannot even afford for himself to eat but has to give all of his food to his children. However, the rich live in splendor in mansions without a worry about economy.

2. The kinship between the family can be seen when Macario gives all of his food to his children, while he is starving himself. In addition, when the wife gives the whole turkey to Macario, I can see how much she loves him and how much she is devoted as a wife to her husband.

3. The culture can also be seen in this film when Macario is accused of talking with the devil. It can be seen that they are very religious and that there is a clear line between good and bad. The culture can also be seen through the daily activities as the people work in the movie.




[Kaitlyn Northrop, krn3@geneseo.edu, 10/19]




1.) I thought it was interesting how they portrayed the economic hardships among the people in this film. Everything was about money and being better than someone else.


2.) After Macario became rich, he and his family moved to a huge house, big enough for the family to get lost in. The family did not want to stay there, they wanted to be back in their one room home. This just goes to show you that money is not of the essence to everyone, and some people are just happy with the things that they have.


3.)I thought that the movie was very engaging. Even though everything was in subtitles, it was still interesting and easy to watch. A lot of the time, people are not interested in subtitled movies, but this one was simple enough to keep anyone interested.




[Brendan Ryan, bmr4@geneseo.edu, 10/20]




1) Kinship/Marriage: Macario gives us an insight whether conciously or not into some of the gender roles and marital conditions of Mexican society, or at least in poor Mexican society.

2) Ideology/Symbolism: The Church and its dogmatic approach to faith and religion is deifintely portrayed in a negative light throughout the film in contrast to the more pure and folksy approach to faith that the poor like Macario have.

3) This film reminds me a lot of the books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it's a really interesting way to tell a story. The surreal nature of it keeps your attention very well.




[Adam Saunders, ars11@geneseo.edu , 10/21]


It is interesting that in Marcario though they are of the Christian faith much of the interpretation of the Devil, God, and Death are much like how we view them today. Now this could be due to the massive westernization that has occurred there, but how their whole ideology of these symbols has changed as well is extraordinary.

The economic level seen in the film has us at a viewpoint of the poorest of the poor in Marcario’s family. We also get to see much of the lifestyle of the wealthy later on in the film once Marcario has established his name as a healer. What we do not see is much of a middle class. Perhaps due to its non-existence in this society, one might only either be poor or wealthy.

Wealth as it seems in this society plays a large role in how individuals view you. For example Marcario though his personality did not change too much, as soon as he went from being poor to being wealthy, the society recognized him and treated him with much respect.



[Nicole Rothman, ngr1@geneseo.edu, 10/22]


Economics- Marcaio and his family start out as extremely poor and are treated poorly by the wealthier townspeople. However, once Marcario’s ability is discovered, this drastically changes. It’s almost like Marcario is above the class system. He cures both rich and poor and at a price they can afford.

Religion/Ideology- obviously religion plays a part in this movie as Marcario meets the devil, god and death. This shows that religion was important in this culture and played a part in everyday life.

Kinship- this film shows that family is very important to Mexican culture. The first person Marcario cures is his son. Marcario’s wife puts herself in danger in order to steal a turkey for her husband. Also both Marcario and his wife go hungry so that their children can eat.



[Skye Naslund, sjn1@geneseo.edu, 10/22/07]


1-I thought the personification of the devil, god and death as religious figures was fascinating. The devil was portrayed as very rich, offering all sorts of goods to Macario. God was portrayed almost as a pushover in that Macario was not afraid to reason with him. Death was portrayed as very poor, even more so than Macario.

2-The gender roles in the film were very clear. At one point Macario tells his wife that she is to take care of the children and the house and not concern herself with the rest of it, which was his business. This shows that the domestic role is that of the woman and that the public domain is that of the men.

3-In the film, the concept of wealth plays a large role. Macario thinks that if he can just have a turkey just to himself he will be wealthy, but this is not the case. Ultimately even though he gets his turkey, he is not better off. He ends up dead, leaving his family behind almost nothing.



[Geni Beninati, gb3@geneseo.edu, 10/22]



1) Kinship/Marriage:  The film did not get into this subject much, besides showing the importance of family.  The wife did whatever she could to make Marcario's wish to eat an entire Turkey come true.  She was also very devoted to her children and did her best to protect them.

2) Ideology/Symbolism:  If this film was ones only knowledge of the Nahua, one would think that they were Christian because of the direct involvement of God and the Devil, also because of the inquisition.  However, when Marcario is tempted with access to the entire forest he mentions that it is not his to have- referring to his Nahuatl beliefs.

3) Economics: There is a very clear gap between the rich and poor. The Spaniards seem to be much richer than the Nahua peasants, no matter how hard they worked.




Alfred Dilluvio ajd12@geneseo.edu 10/22


This film interested me a great deal because it showed the importance of the family in Mexico and the role of the father. It also showed a great deal about the class structure and social interaction between the higher class and the lower or middle class. The relations are anything but friendly and this is emphasized in the interaction that takes place between the women who marcarios wife works for and marcario's wife.

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