Rojo Amanecer brings memories
of the Tlatelolco massacre to life
with its vivid portrayal of state
terrorism in Mexico
Jorge Fons, Mexico
96 minutes, Spanish
LATAMROB rating: *****
Reviewed by Georgina Jiménez
OCTOBER 2 marks the 40th anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre but the bloody images and memories of 1968 remain fresh in the minds of the inhabitants of Mexico City.
Years of official silence were broken in 1971with the publication of La Noche de Tlatelolco (translated as Massacre in Mexico) by Elena Poniatowska.
Later, with the crude but moving film Rojo Amanecer (Red Dawn), director Jorge Fons managed to project the fear, anxiety and feeling of outrage caused by the brutal events of 2 October 1968.
The eyes of the world were on the forthcoming Olympics and Mexico was a country desperate to demonstrate its importance and reinforce its artificial image of progress, peacefulness, fiesta and folklore worldwide.
It took a student demonstration to puncture the myth when, under orders “from above”, the Mexican army opened fire upon the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the residential estate of Tlatelolco.
At least 300 young people died – possibly many more – and up to two thousand people were detained during that night. A hundred were jailed for up to three years for participating in the demonstration.
The story remains disturbing and dramatic, and Fons depicts to the point of perfection the impact of the night’s events upon lower-class occupants of the blocks of flats by inventing a family of Tlatelolco residents for whom the screams of democracy from below left an indelible red stain upon their lives.
Rojo Amanecer is without a doubt, one of the best Mexican films of all time. It may not be easy to watch, more so because it was based on real events, but must be recommended viewing for anyone interested in Mexico’s violent past.
Georgina Jiménez is a freelance Mexican writer