Tag Archives: Mexico

Skulls, Skeletons and Tequila, Espolón has it all!

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Espolón Advertising by Steven Noble 

Espolón Tequila is one unique, innovative brand that features a smooth, delicate flavour along with a creative label that will leave a very memorable impression! As soon as I recognised the bottle of Espolón, I instantly developed to the urge to purchase a bottle for myself and the product design immediately attracted my attention. While I was tempted to try the tequila, I wanted to keep the bottle for the inspiring label / packaging.

So what makes this bottle of tequila so interesting? Well, the tequila isn’t too overpowering, Espolón does create some fantastic Paloma’s on a warm summers day, the packaging is inspiring and the overall brand features a very compelling story! The label features a range of lively, animated skeletons and the overall style does feature similarities to the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival that invites deceased family members and spirits to partake in the celebration, as referenced by Regina.M Marchi.1 I’ve mentioned these particular elements in my previous posts but I’ll briefly mention some of the most important points. If you are interested in viewing the previous posts just click on the links to Part I and Part II

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Espolón Advertising – Steven Noble

Espolón’s product design features similarities to the works of José Guadalupe Posada and there is an illustration known as the “The Calavera of Don Quixote 1910” that appears almost identical to the label; Espolon’s design presents a very distinctive appropriation that reflect’s Mexico’s cultural and historical background.2 I’m assuming that Posada’s prints would be available under ‘free use,’ this would be a very interesting area to explore or research in the next week. According to Regina.M.Marchi, Posada is an influential artist / printmaker from Mexico who produced a range of delightful prints or illustrations featuring a range of enthusiastic, animated skeletons during the 19th century.

In the illustrations, the playful skeletons partake in a range of activities or events wearing a range of outfits or accessories and Posada’s distinctive style provides a humorous perspective of death, as referenced by Marchi.3 Espolón have used these lively skeletons to advertise their tequila, although I can’t see anything wrong with this, the story does feature some cultural associations or symbology that provides context to the overall brand. Espolón delivers a level of authenticity through the packaging or product design that is inspired by one unique symbol.

espolon-revolutionEspolón Product Design / Labelling 

According to the Espolón official website, “Master Distiller, Cirilo Oropeza” created a brand of Tequila that was named after the spur found on the back of a Rooster’s heal and “Espolón pays tribute to the legendary bird so important within Mexican culture.”4 This is a very fascinating concept that has invited me to research the significance behind the rooster and Elías Domínguez Barajas in the ‘Function of Proverbs in Discourse’ explains that the rooster features a connection to “bravery, pride and confidence” within Mexican Culture.5

This is a very interesting discovery that definitely adds a level of interest towards Espolón and the brand’s overall history. While I’m interested in researching the cultural and historical associations related to the brand, I do enjoy a glass of Blanco with a slice of lime. This particular type of Tequila works exceptionally well as a cocktail or a mixed drink and I would definitely recommend Espolón if you intend to create a Paloma or an Espresso Martini.

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José Guadalupe Posada – Print / Illustration: 
The Calavera of Don Quixote, 1910

The tequila also works as a delicious alcoholic beverage just by itself with some ice and a slice of lime. While there are other brands of tequila that feature an outstanding flavour, Espolón is exceptional for the price and it’s very affordable, especially for the overall quality! So if you’re planning a dinner party and you need Tequila for a dozen Paloma’s, this is definitely the one to go for!

According to Espolon’s website, the tequila features “100% pure agave” that is created / distilled in “Los Altos, Mexico.” From a personal opinion, I do enjoy the Blanco compared the Respado that is aged for several months in an “oak barrel,” as referenced by Espolón.6 This is just my personal preference and I prefer something with a smooth flavour or texture. If you’re new to tequila, I would recommend the Blanco to start off with, if you’re searching for something with a strong, full-bodied flavour then the Respado is an excellent choice.

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Espolón features some very compelling, yet distinctive advertisements that are very admirable and the designs are created by Steven Noble. Last but not least, I thought I would briefly mention my recent discovery in regards to my statistics on my WordPress profile.

This year so far, I’ve received 482 views for my previous post in regards to Espolón tequila that ranked number six on my top posts for 2015. This is a very interesting conclusion that demonstrates Espolón’s increase in popularity. Perhaps there is a demand for skulls and tequila, it’ll be interesting to observe the statistics overtime in order to view any significant changes.

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So if you enjoy relaxing on the deck chair with a refreshing glass of tequila, I would recommend Espolón! Not only will you receive a high quality product, you’ll obtain an awesome bottle with some incredible designs including skulls, skeletons and a rooster, what more could you possibly ask for? If you love skulls and tequila, this is the brand for you.

Espolón also features a Facebook Page and a Twitter Page that is worth viewing if you wish to acquire further information! These amazing advertisements are created by Steven Noble, click on the link to view the artist’s Behance Portfolio.

References

1.Marchi, Regina.M, The Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenan (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009) p.26-27
2.Regina, The Day of the Dead in the USA, p.27-28
3.Regina, The Day of the Dead in the USA, p.27-28
4.Espolón Tequila, “A Legend in the Making,” 2013 (Accessed 9/2/15) http://www.tequilaespolon.com/en/?age=verified
5.Barajas, Elías Domínguez, The Function of Proverbs in Discourse: The Case of a Mexican Transnational Social Network (New York: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, 2010) p.100
6.Espolón Tequila, “Tasting Notes,” 2013 (Accessed 9/2/15) http://www.tequilaespolon.com/en/?age=verified


Compartes Chocolate: The Aztec Jungle Milk Chocolate Mole Works a Treat

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Compartes Chocolate – Aztec Jungle Chocolate Mole 

Yesterday I decided to clean the study, where I discovered a colourful and decorative box sitting on top of the desk. I was immediately excited when I realised that I have discovered a block of chocolate, although I was disappointed when I realised the box was completely empty. I began to wonder why would I keep an empty box of chocolate in the study? I admire the packaging, the various patterns and designs are very creative!

The box finally triggered my memory and I remembered receiving this amazing block of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Honestly how can you go wrong with a block of chocolate concealed in a bright, colourful box? The chocolate was purchased from a store that has recently opened in Geelong on Pakington Street, known as the Chocolate Supply Co.

The store features a range of chocolates that are imported from influential chocolateries or businesses around the world, as referenced by the Burger Inc website. When I walked into the store for the first time, all I could smell was the aroma of chocolate, honestly it’s enough to make your mouth water! All the shelfs and the benches are filled with these amazing chocolates and it does take quite a lot of will power to walk out of the store without buying anything.

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Compartes Chocolate, Aztec Jungle – Photo Two

The chocolate I received was imported from Los Angles from a company known as Compartes that produce and distribute their own chocolate. According to the Compartes official website, the company  use high quality ingredients from South America and Los Angeles in order to create a range of delicate, hand crafted chocolates.

I received a block of Compartes milk chocolate mole known as the Aztec Jungle that also contains a range of spices. It’s quite different to anything I have tasted before and the chocolate has quite a rich flavour, it would be difficult to eat this whole block of chocolate in one go. The Aztec Jungle has a spicy, bitter taste, which is quite different compared to the standard or traditional milk chocolate that you often find in the supermarket.

For those who are unfamiliar with mole, this is often recognised as a traditional dish that is associated with the Mexican / Aztec culture. In reference to Maria Herrera Sobek, mole derives from Aztec and European traditions; the sauce contains a mixture of chocolate, chillies, nuts and spices.

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Compartes Chocolate, Aztec Jungle – Photo Three

I throughly enjoyed my block of Compartes chocolate and I remember enjoying every bite as I didn’t leave anything left behind. I am particularly fascinated in the packaging, the patterns and the designs feature similarities to traditional Aztec art.  The overall design is incredible and I couldn’t bear to throw away this colourful rectangular box; the packaging also features a pattern across the front that appear similar to the human skull. This is one of my favourite designs, the over shape and composition are quite distinctive, the patterns also remind me of a kaleidoscope.

I’m not entirely sure if the patterns are meant to represent skulls, although this would compliment the aztec theme and the nature of the packaging. If you are looking for something different, try some Compartes chocolate, I believe there are different flavours available, although the Aztec Jungle is definitely worth a try. Please visit the sites below for further information.

References

Burger Inc, “Chocolate Supply Co”, http://www.burgerinc.com/2013/11/chocolate-supply-co/

Chocolate Supply Cohttp://www.chocolatesupplyco.com.au/

Compartes, “Compartes Chocolatier Chocolates Handmade in LA since 1950”, http://compartes.com/pages/about-compartes-chocolatier

Compartes, “Milk Chocolate Mole”, http://compartes.com/products/spicy-mole-chocolate-bar-compartes

Maria Herrera Sobek (ed) “Mole” in Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopaedia of Cultural Traditions (California: ABC-CLIO) p.804


Skullavera showcases unique ceramic skulls at Melbourne’s Day of the Dead Festival

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All the skulls in the photographs are produced by Skullavera

Last Saturday, I attended a Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne that featured a range of hand crafted skulls, printed t-shirts, altars, traditional Aztec dancing, Mexican street food and face painting! The event was located at the Trust Bar and Restaurant in Flinders street that was full of visitors with their faces painted as the Mexican sugar skulls, it was fascinating as there were so many different patterns and designs!

It was interesting to see how each person had interpreted the Mexican sugar skulls, some had used colourful face paint while others had decided to go with a  minimalist approach. Furthermore, I did find the event particularly fascinating as I have never been to a Day of the Dead festival in Melbourne and the event was quite different to what I was expecting! At first the venue was rather crowded, although I throughly enjoyed watching visitors passing by with their sugar skull face paint!

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As I was walking through the venue, there was one stall that had captured my attention. There were a range of colourful and illustrative skulls that were displayed onto a wooden surface along with a selection of skeletal figurines including Frida Kahlo and Marlyin Monroe. These hand crafted skulls featured elaborate and decorative designs that are quite unique compared to the other ceramic skulls that I have seen throughout the city of Melbourne.

These incredible hand crafted skulls are produced by a company known as Skullavera that is currently based in Sydney, Australia. BME Melbourne have conducted an interview with the artist who explains that the skulls are inspired by Chicano / latino tattoo designs as well as “the Mexican Drug Cartels.” 1 Each skull features a completely different style, there were so many different patterns, designs and illustrations, in fact the stall at the Day of the Dead celebration was definitely vibrant and decorative.

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In a way, the artist applies a unique and distinctive style to the ceramic skulls, the level of detail and craftsmanship is incredible! The illustrations provides each skull with a unique characteristic, these models appear to have an individual personality, a personal style!

While there were bright and colourful designs available, there were other skulls that featured a range of black and while illustrations, the stall at the Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne featured some extraordinary ceramic skulls in all different shapes and sizes, I was seriously tempted to buy one for myself!

The official Skullavera blog does mention that the hand crafted skulls are inspired by the Day of the Dead celebration; from a personal perspective the ceramic skulls do feature both Mexican and European influences, there are various designs that do remind me of Western popular culture. 2 The way the skulls were displayed do feature similarities to a traditional Mexican altar that is usually installed during the Day of the Dead in order to welcome spirits to the celebration, as referenced by Maria Herrera Sobek. 3

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In fact the display in general was creative and inspiring, it was seriously hard to walk past the stall without taking a dozen photos, I was in awe for at least 30 minutes, I just could not take my eyes off these hand crafted skulls! I f you haven’t seen Skullavera’s work, then I would strongly suggest to visit the Facebook page or the blog, there is some incredible work displayed online.

For those who have never even heard of this Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne, I would recommend buying a ticket for next year! As if you can go wrong with beer, tequila, nachos and ceramic skulls all in the same venue? While the event itself was crowded to begin with, the works on display were definitely worth seeing!

1. BME Melbourne, “Skullavera Interview”, June 28th 2013, http://www.bmemelbourne.com/bmeinterviews/skullavera-interview/ (accessed 5/11/13)
2.  Skullavera Official Blog, http://skullavera.blogspot.com.au/ (accessed 5/11/13)
3. Sobek, Maria Herrera (ed) “Altars” in Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Cultural Traditions, Volume 1 (California: ABC – CLIO, 2012) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=bDIwZ8BieWcC&pg=PA423&dq=traditional+mexican+altars+
celebration+latino+folklore&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6hR6UpbuJMO2kgWqh
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Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=traditional%20mexican%20altars%20
celebration%20latino%
20folklore&f=false

Other References:

https://www.facebook.com/Skullavera73

http://skullavera.bigcartel.com/

http://www.dotdfestival.com.au/


The Black Calavera Facebook Page

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Ok so the other day, I created a Facebook Page for Black Calavera, I had this planned for a while, although I was incredibly busy at the time. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to add to the page, although I decided to include a photograph of the Mexican beaded skulls that I received as a birthday present. The photograph I have taken is displayed next to the logo that Sean has designed, Sean is also apart of Black Calavera who does quite a lot of the design work.

So you are properly wondering….doesn’t Black Calavera already have a logo? it sure does, although the logo on the Facebook page is specifically designed for both our design and photography work, you could say the skulls project has become a sub brand of Black Calavera.

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The page is primarily used to advertise the Skulls Project and Sean’s blog, Art&Stuff is also linked to the Facebook site aswell. I guess you could say the page contains everything all on the one site so the viewer can visit various social media profiles.

We’re still currently working on an official website, which should be finished in the next week that will contain a range of work associated with the skulls project as well as other design / photography projects. The Facebook link is attached below if you would like to have a look, if you would please be able to like the Facebook page that would be fantastic! Don’t forget to tell your friends, enjoy! 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22


Two New Beaded Skulls from Mexico

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Photography by Charlotte Pridding, 2013

On the day of my birthday, I received two small gifts from an authentic day of the dead store in Melbourne called Amor Y Locura. On the 22nd of September, I received two beaded skulls that feature intricate patterns and designs, the skulls were imported from Mexico and there were only two left in Australia, how how lucky is that?!

While visiting the Day of the Dead store in Melbourne, I was amazed by the two large beaded skulls on the very bottom shelf, the level of craftsmanship is remarkable! A customer within the store had advised me that these colourful beaded ornaments are also known as the huichol skull, I must admit I was intrigued by the name so I decided to undertake some online research.

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According to Lynne Bairstow, Huichol Art derives from many ancient traditions and rituals that were commonly practised amongst the aztecs. Bairstow explains that the patterns and the designs found in Huichol Art represent nature, these beaded sculptures often contain a strong association to various animals and plants.

In comparison Harald Prins and Dana Walrath in Cultural Anthroplogy: The Human Challenge also comment on the extraordinary designs found within Huichol art that also refer to the values and beliefs practised amongst the indigenous communities within Mexico. Prins and Walrath refer to Schaeffer & Furst in People of the Peyote : Huichol Indian History, Religion and Survival, both authors explain that these particular designs refer to a “sacred plant” in Mexico also known as the “peyote”.

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The indigenous communities in Mexico also associated this particular plant with a deer that would deliver important messages to many of the “gods and goddesses”. It’s quite fascinating to actually discover that all of these designs have such a strong meaning / signification; these beaded sculptures certainly reflect Mexico’s cultural and spiritual heritage!

So what else did I discover? Well, I also discovered the works of Catherine Martin who was also inspired by Huichol art during her trip to Mexico, Martin has also spoken directly to some of the tribes who create these exquisite sculptures. According to LN-CC, Martin collaborates with these ancient tribes in order to produce colourful, vibrant and remarkable designs! This is a very unique idea as I’ve never really seen too many artists or designers appropriate the Huichol beaded sculptures, in fact I’ve never even heard of Huichol art until I visited the Day of the Dead store in Melbourne.

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I decided to take some photographs of the beaded skulls out in the backyard; I do find the patterns and designs particularly fascinating! The beads create a gradient around the eye sockets, the nose and the mouth, this also creates quite an interesting effect. Some of the patterns do resemble plants, animals and even flames that are located around the edge of the skull.

In a way the patterns remind me of an abstract landscape painting as strange as it sounds! The skull to the right has green along the bottom and the blue around the eye sockets reminds me of a river streaming along a field or a mountain; on the other hand, the white, orange and yellow remind me of a rising sunset. I suppose there would be various meanings and interpretations in relation to the beaded skulls, I must admit these sculptures do appear bright and colourful in the front living room, in fact they make fantastic ornaments for the house!

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So if you haven’t seen one of these beaded skulls before, I would definitely recommend visiting Amor Y Locura in Melbourne, Fitzory. It’s definitely worth the visit, especially if you would like to see these exquisite Huichol Skulls in the flesh!

References

Schaeffer. S.B & Furst P.T, People of the Peyote: Huichol Indian History, Religion and Survival in Harold Prins and Diane Walrath’s,
Cultural Anthropology  : The Human Experience (California: Thomson Higher Education, 2008 – 2005, http://books.google.com.au/booksid=8WMGAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA331&dq=huichol+beaded

+art&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tf1LUpPqCIa3kAWF8oDgDg&ved=0CEYQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=
huichol%20beaded%20art&f=false

Baird, David & Bairstow, Lynne, Frommer’s Mexico (New Jersey: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2006) 
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=th1ehvI1hrwC&pg=PA303&dq=huichol+beaded+art&hl=
en&sa=X&ei=pk9RUrK3BqiZiQfaw4H4C

w&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=huichol%20beaded%20art&f=false

LN-CC, Interview with Catherine Martin, LN-CC, undated (accessed 4/10/13) 
http://www.ln-cc.com/en/restofworld/mens/interview-with-catherine-martin-our-exquisite-corpse/page/catherine-martin-int

http://www.ourexquisitecorpse.com/


Ceramic Handcrafted Skulls from Amor Y Locura

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Photography by Charlotte Pridding

A couple of weeks ago, I received a small graduation gift from a local Day of the Dead Store in Melbourne, Gertrude Street that sells a range of hand crafted items from Mexico. I received four ceramic skulls with colourful and decorative designs that have been painted onto the front and the back; I soon realised that the hand crafted skulls could be used as a necklace.

There are two small holes on the left and the right hand side of the skull that would allow you to create a bracelet or a necklace, I must admit the thought is rather exciting as the skulls are rather vibrant and colourful, they would compliment all my grey and black t-shirts that are hanging in my wardrobe. At the moment, I have placed the ceramic skulls on top of the television cabinet, I must admit all the different patterns and designs compliments the furniture within the lounge room, in fact the colours are so bright I just can’t seem to take my eyes off them!

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The ceramic skulls are very small, they’re minuscule to be precise, although it is the actual size that provides these hand crafted skulls with some interesting characteristics. I have to hold the skull with my fingers in order to closely examine the various patterns and designs, when I am holding the ceramic skulls, I always find something different, something I haven’t noticed before. The base of the ceramic skull features quite a high level of detail for something so small; I also noticed that the hand crafted skulls also feature lively and animated expressions, all four of them seem to be grimacing or smirking.

So I’m not exactly sure who has designed these ceramic skulls, although I do know that the skulls were purchased from Amor Y Locura, a local boutique store that sells a range of Day of the Dead merchandise. The skulls are associated with the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration, a celebratory event that reunites the living with the deceased. The hand crafted skulls are often used for parades, markets, altars and other activities that symbolise Mexico’s cultural and spiritual connection with the deceased, as referenced by Regina. M. Marchi.

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A couple of weeks ago, I decided to browse through a magazine known as “Latin Flavours”, the publication features various articles and reviews in relation to   authentic latin cuisine as well as small local businesses around the city of Melbourne. At the very front of the magazine, I discovered Amor Y Locura (Love & Madness) that is currently owned by Mandy Patron who is inspired by traditional and contemporary Mexican art. Patron ensures all artists receive a profit for their delicate hand crafted items that are imported from Mexico to Melbourne, Australia.

What I truly love about this store is the fact that nothing stays the same, every time I walk into Amor Y Locura, I always find a new selection of wooden, ceramic and papier-mache skulls. The store does sell a range of unique hand crafted products that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else within the city. Another thing I find particularly fascinating is the name of the business, Love & Madness reflects Patron’s own fascination with Mexico’s cultural and spiritual heritage.

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Latin Flavours features a monthly magazine that is often found within restaurants, cafes and boutique stores around Melbourne, if you ever find yourself wondering around the city, I would suggest taking a copy to read, the magazine often features some very interesting articles and recipes. Don’t forget to visit Amor Y Locura the next time you are in Gertrude Street, they have a wide selection of Mexican hand crafted antiques! Please click on the link below for further information.

http://www.amorylocura.com/

David James (Ed) Latin Flavours, Autumn Winter Edition 2013, published by Insubstantial Pageant p. 7-8

Regina.M. Marchi, The Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenan.  New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009.


Savages

Savages

Over the weekend, I decided to watch Savages, an American thriller directed by Oliver Stone. The film features Blake Lively who acts as the main protagonist who assists with a successful marijuana company with her two best friends, Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Taylor Johnson) So, what were my very first impressions of the film? Towards the very beginning, the amount of violence, sex and gore was very over the top, in fact the entire film was slightly over dramatic.

There was definitely a slow build and I was more impressed with visual effects and the car explosions rather than the storyline or the dialogue. Lively did play a very unenthusiastic character and the dialogue was very boring to begin with, the actual kidnapping was the most shocking part of the film. There were several times were I started to lose interest, although it was Benicio Del Toro’s ruthless and vindictive character, Lado that convinced me to watch the rest of the film.

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Ben wearing a skull mask

Lado is apart of the drug cartel and his violent, corrupt behaviour does deliver a strong impact within Oliver Stone’s, Savages. Lado is the reason why so many characters die in one giant blood bath, wherever there is Lado, you know that you’ll be expecting blood left right and centre. Benicio Del Toro does play an excellent villain along with Salma Hyek as Elena who owns the notorious drug cartel in Mexico. Without Del Toro or Hyek, the film would seriously lack any sort of impact or shock, the storyline would be rather flat without these two particular characters.

In Savages, there is a strong reference to the Mexican sugar skulls, through the masks that are worn by Chon and Ben who begin to terrorise members of the drug cartel. This is basically the reason why I am writing about this film in the first place; the masks feature decorative patterns and designs that add an interesting effect to the overall film.

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Both Ben and Chun wearing sugar skull masks

While Savages features a strong reference to the drug trade in Mexico, the sugar skull masks may reflect both Chun and Ben’s opposition to this violent activity. In the past, the Mexican community have used skull masks as a way to protest against the drug trade, I have often wondered whether Chun and Ben use the skull as a way to retaliate against the drug cartel.

Who knows really, while there are plenty of reviews on Oliver Stone’s, Savages, there is limited information in terms of the symbology behind the sugar skull masks. Lado also wears a skeletal handkerchief during the very start of the film; in a way the skull features a strong parallel between life and death, Savages also features a strong reference to the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival through the skeletal figurines and the sugar skulls.

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Lado wearing a skeletal handkerchief 

Overall, the costumes, the props and the masks were visually interesting, although the dialogue didn’t make much sense in terms of the storyline or the narrative, in fact the film would have been better if they didn’t use Blake Lively as the dialogue. While Savages featured some very violent scenes, the film was rather glamorous and superficial, even the storyline was predictable. Savages was rather tame for a film that represents the Mexican drug cartels; don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed watching the film, it was a little too dramatic for my liking.

Nevertheless, Savages is still a good film with some astounding actors and some remarkable visual effects, if you are comfortable watching violent films then Savages is perfect if you have nothing else planned on a Saturday afternoon. For more information please click on the links below.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615065/

http://www.savagesmovie.com.au/

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/savages_2012/

URL Links:

http://www.cultureslap.com/savages-review/

http://popcultureninja.com/category/reviews/page/5/

http://darkeyesocket.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/at-cinema-savages.html

http://purefilmcreative.com/killough-chronicles/mozart-vs-bach.html