Frida by Julie Taymor


Frida Front Cover

2/1/2013 – Frida presents the life of Mexico’s most predominant artist

On the week before christmas, I received another amazing gift, inside the Christmas wrapping paper was a DVD also known as “Frida”. The other night I had decide to watch Frida just because it was way to hot too fall asleep, the film features actress, Salma Hayek who plays Mexico’s most predominant artist, Frida Kahlo. The film is based upon true events as well as Kahlo’s troublesome relationship with muralist, Diego Rivera who has significantly influenced traditional Mexican Art since the 1920’s.

While the film does reflect Frida’s traumatic experiences; the film does appear quite glamorous, it was something I would expect to see in America rather than Mexico. At a very young age, Frida had injured her back from a tram accident, although the film could have intensified or elevated the pain or the trauma from the artist’s perspective. For someone who had experienced a severe back injury, “Frida” wasn’t as sad or distressing as I thought it would be.

Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo and Alfred Morlina as Diego. 

On a positive note, the cinematography is excellent and the use of colour definitely adds vibrancy to the overall film; the acting also receives a thumbs up, both Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina played an excellent role as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. What I do find particularly interesting is the Day of the Dead skulls and skeletons within the film, that would frequently reappear throughout the duration of the film.  There was one scene in particular where Frida does visit her mother’s tombstone during the Day of the Dead, in the background I had noticed there were sugar skulls in different colours, patterns and designs. On the DVD cover, I also realised that Frida Kahlo is wearing skull earrings; in fact the skull was a popular icon throughout the entire film.

Skull Animation in Frida

The skulls did work well within the film as they effectively portrayed Mexico’s cultural and historical heritage; the skull also corresponded with Frida’s death right after her very own solo exhibition. I would say the most disturbing part of the film was when Frida had injured her back on the tram, the scene then cuts to a short animation that features Day of the Dead skulls with a red liquid substance spilling from their mouth.

This was the only part of the film that did provoke a response; the animation was quite dark, even morbid, it almost reminded me of a Tim Burton production. Normally the Day of the Dead skulls are quite vibrant, artistic and cheerful, in the film the grotesque quality of the animated skulls was something I haven’t really seen before. The animation was very clever in a way, as the skulls reflected Frida’s pain and agony.

Frida was quite an extraordinary painter and to me personally her own physical and psychological pain made her into a great artist. You can really see through her own paintings how much pain the artist had experienced in her lifetime. It is the pain that makes Kahlo’s work so fascinating, the colour and the composition in Kahlo’s work is very unique,  even stylised.

I would definitely recommend this film, especially to anyone that is interested in Mexican Art and Frida Kahlo, her own artistic, personal and professional career is quite interesting to watch on-screen.

Julie Taymor, Frida, USA: Miramax, 2002, 123 Minutes.

Foard, Sheila. W, Diego Rivera: The Great Hispanic Heritage. USA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003. p.11-12

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