There are many reasons why a movie may be shot in Mexico. Sometimes there isn’t enough money in the budget to shoot elsewhere, and sometimes it is a direct aesthetic and detail oriented choice. Movies from as small as Like Water for Chocolate to as big as Titanic have used the Mexican terrain as their backdrop.
In light of Cinco de Mayo, we have compiled cinco (5) of our favorite movies shot south of the border…
5. Once Upon a Time in Mexico/Desperado
I’m aware that these are two separate movies, but it’s the same director and actors, so it’s only fair that it’s counted as one. Director, Robert Rodriguez shoots many of his films in Mexico, including his low-budget debut El Mariachi, which these two films are sequels of. The plot follows a guitarist who is looking for work, that suddenly gets thrown into a world of violence and mayhem. He becomes a gun-slinging legend who is feared by even the toughest of criminals. Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico capture the atmosphere of Mexico while still giving it some well needed sense of style.
Selma Hayek with a uni-brow. Nice. This one had to be shot entirely in Mexico due to financial issues. It tells the true story of famed Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. Much of it revolves around the chaotic nature of her relationship with Diego Rivera (also a famed Mexican painter).
This movie won two Academy Awards and probably couldn’t have done it without the help of Mexico. It really does add to the accuracy and believability of the film. It also shows much of the beauty that is little scene in Mexico.
One of the best scenes, in my humble opinion, was the stop motion scene done by the brilliant Brothers Quay. Known for their dark and eery stop-motion films, they added Mexican motifs that give you a great sense of the cultural imagery.
3. Romeo and Juliet
Here is a good example of Mexico becoming a completely different place, in this case Verona. Whether your a fan of this film or not, it is a pretty radically impressive adaption of a Shakespeare tragedy. Baz Luhrmann uses the grittier side of Mexico to further the story of despair that ensues.
2. Fun In Acapulco
This is the Elvis movie in which loses his job as boat worker in Acapulco, so he gets a new job as a singer and a lifeguard while trying to win back his girl. Amazing. The funny thing about this movie is that even though they shot some exteriors of Mexico, Elvis never went. In his entire life, he’d never made it down to that place. Movie Mexico Magic.
1. Man on Fire
Denzel Washington kicks ass in this movie. He’s trying to find a kidnapped little girl, and he has to get through miles of Mexico to get to her. Mexico is the villain in this movie and Denzel is America and America always wins. Mexico is portrayed in the way that it is now understood: corrupt, lawless, and dangerous. So make sure you watch this one next time you take your trip down south.
What’s your favorite movie filmed in Mexico?