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FridaReview - Frida
Bringing Frida Kahlo's Life and Art to Film
by Clancy Sigal, Julie Taymor, and Linda Sunshine (editors)
Newmarket Press, 2002
Review by Su Terry
Apr 7th 2003 (Volume 7, Issue 15)

Frida: Bringing Frida Kahlo's Life and Art to Film is an absolutely gorgeous book! The book contains the movie script lavishly illustrated with photographs from the film and is liberally supplemented with the film makers’ interviews, as well as historic quotes and photographs of the real Frida and those who knew her.

Frida: Bringing Frida Kahlo's Life and Art to Film is a volume with two distinct purposes. First, it is a biography of the 20th century Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Second, it is the documenting of the making of the film Frida as told by the actors, directors, and graphic artists who worked on it. Frida Kahlo lived a flamboyant life filled with violence and geared to shock. She was born in Mexico City in 1907. Frida wanted to be a doctor and loved to dance.  At 15-years old, her dreams were destroyed by a bus accident that left her alive, but physically challenged for the rest of her life. Her creative urge, however, would not be stifled. During her initial convalescence, Frida turned to painting in order to pass time and in order to express herself. She painted miniatures due to her physical limitations, but her choice of Mexican folk art as a style was her own choosing. It was inevitable that she would meet and marry Diego Rivera, the outspoken Communist muralist. Their relationship was intense and fiery. Through Diego, Frida was introduced to famous artists and politicians. She traveled with him to America and in response to his many dalliances with women had an affair with his idol, Leon Trotsky. Her medical condition continued to deteriorate throughout her life, and finally in 1954 at the age of 44 years she died. Frida (the movie) was the dream of actress Salma Hayek (who plays Frida in the film) and director Julie Tamor. It was not enough to simply tell her story, but to document her life in a historically accurate yet interesting (and financially lucrative) way. This necessitated gaining the trust of Frida’s family and friends who consulted on the film and getting the support of the Mexican government for access to historic sites. Everything from clothing to décor to finding or replicating archaic machinery was done. Sheer commitment and determination was necessary to see this project to completion.

The book is interesting, colorful, and educational. It is filled with photographs, artwork, and original quotes from those who shared Frida’s life story. Addition insights are given from the actors who portrayed the characters. The book is filled with bright and colorful high-grade photography. It is also lavishly illustrated with decorative borders and colorful insets for quotes. While any portrayal of Frida must fall short of the reality, I trust that those who took such care to accurately portray Frida and labored under the direction of the Frida Kuhlo Museum and those who knew her personally, would allow the woman to be misrepresent. Also it is easy to compare the script and depictions based on the descriptive quotes of Frida and others scattered through the book.

            Julie Taymor is the two-time Tony Award winner for The Lion King and one of the most imaginative and respected directors working in the performing arts today. Her work is celebrated in the art book Playing with Fire (Abrams) and a Bravo TV profile. She previously directed the Academy Award®-nominated adaptation of William Shakespeare's Titus. She lives in New York.” Frida (the movie) has been nominated for six Academy Awards.

Frida: Bringing Frida Kahlo's Life and Art to Film is more than a colorful coffee table book. The book is Frida bright and colorful ­and of course gutsy and shocking. Like the film it is wonderful way to enter the life of an artist through her artwork. It is a book to return to again and again.  I highly recommend this book.

 

© 2003 Su Terry


 Su Terry: Education: B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.


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