Tribute to Gabriel Figueroa: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Tribute to Gabriel Figueroa

Tribute to Gabriel Figueroa

Event Details

Date & Time:

Thu November 12, 2015 - Thu December 3, 2015


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public


From the early 1930s through the 1980s, cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (1907–1997) was instrumental in forging an evocative and enduring image of Mexico. Figueroa worked with leading directors from Mexico, the United States and Europe, traversing a wide variety of genres while maintaining his distinctive and vivid visual style. His precise attention to framing, dramatic use of light and shadow, and signature deep focus compositions are the work of a truly exceptional artist. Figueroa was part of a creative community who, in the wake of the Mexican Revolution, sought to convey the country’s transformation and create “una imagen mexicana.” This series features four films Figueroa shot with directors Luis Buñuel and Emilio “El Indio” Fernández. The gritty realism of Buñuel is contrasted by Fernández’s romantic depictions of rural life—showcasing both Figueroa’s range and the two directors’ very different approaches to the representation of Mexico.


María Candelaria

Thursday, November 12, 2015 7:00 PM
(Emilio Fernández, 1943, Mexico, 16mm, 90 min.)

Emilio Fernández’s penchant for melodramatic excess is balanced by the aesthetic sensitivity of Figueroa’s cinematography in this tragic tale of two young lovers who struggle to overcome the cruelty of fate. The film’s titular protagonist is played by international star Dolores del Río who, after a successful career in Hollywood, returned to Mexico and became one of the most celebrated actors in the nation’s history. Set in 1909 on the eve of the Mexican revolution in Xochimilco, María Candelaria portrays the region’s indigenous population with a contradictory mix of romantic idealism and stereotypical exoticism.




Friday, November 13, 2015 7:00 PM
(Emilio Fernández, 1946, Mexico, 35mm, 99 min.)

Set in scenic Cholula, Enamorada tells the story of the city’s conquest by Mexican revolutionary General Reyes (Pedro Armendáriz) and his unlikely romance with Beatriz Peñafiel (María Félix), the fearless daughter of one of the most powerful and wealthy men in town. Loosely based on The Taming of the Shrew, Emilio Fernández’s sweeping historical melodrama is widely considered to be one of the most influential films of the “Golden Age” of Mexican cinema. María Félix’s captivating portrayal of the fiery Beatriz won her an Ariel Award for best actor in 1947, and solidified her status as one of the most iconic stars in the history of Latin American cinema.


Los olvidados

Friday, November 20, 2015 7:00 PM
(Luis Buñuel, 1950, Mexico, 35mm, 80 min.)

The first of seven films Figueroa shot for Buñuel, Los olvidados shines a light on the slum life of Mexico City (though as the prologue suggests—it could be set in any metropolis), following a gang of children who are driven to crime due to their circumstances. Unlike Buñuel’s best-known work, stylistically Los olvidados is nearly neo-realist aside from its beautiful surreal dream sequence.



Thursday, December 3, 2015 7:00 PM
(Luis Buñuel, 1959, Mexico, 35mm, 94 min.)

Nazarín sees Buñuel tapping into one of his most frequent themes: the test of faith. A Catholic priest’s life begins to fall apart when he provides shelter to a murderer. His parish is threatened and he resolves to become a beggar. Two women think he has healing powers and, to his dismay, begin to follow him. Buñuel’s tone is complicated—he is sympathetic to the protagonist, yet derides his naiveté and unceasing devotion to religious idealism. Although Nazarín is one of Buñuel’s lesser known films, it is a favorite of Guillermo Del Toro, Andrei Tarkovsky, and the director himself.

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at