image001                                                                UNC-CH and Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Video Collection/Outreach Office

                                                Contact Information: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

                                                3200 FedEx Global Education Center

                                                Phone: (919) 843-8888          Fax: (919) 962-0398






85 minutes

Directed by: Matilde Landeta



This Mexican classic, by the pioneering director Matilde S. Landeta and adapted from the novel by Francisco Rojas Gonzales, is based on the like of a mulatto woman who served as a colonel under Emiliano Zapata during the revolution of 1910-1916.  The film centers on the struggle of Angustias to overcome the sex and race barriers to full participation in the fight for social justice.  As a young girl, Angustias recoils form the traditional role of female as victim and comes to identify with her father, the legendary bandit Anton Ferriera.  Harassed  by the villagers for rejecting marriage, she is eventually forced to flee after committing murder as a defense against rape.  Tougher than most of the men inspired by her revolutionary fervor, Angustias faces her most pronounced spiritual crisis when she falls in love with a fair-skinned aristocrat who teaches her to read and write.  In contrast  to other strong female characters who typically renounce nonfeminine  behavior at the end of most films, Angustias overcomes her momentary lapse and returns to her revolutionary ideals with renewed vigor. 


Strengths and Weaknesses:

This film is engaging as a historical period piece.  It is an early Latin American film directed by a woman who attempts to establish a parallel between sexual and racial discrimination.  The film is particularly bold in its approach to gender issues.  From a 1990s perspective, the critique of racial stereotyping comes across with less force, in large part because Angustias and her father are played by white actors with their skin painted black.  For its period (1940s Mexico), the film has an engaging and original plot and professional cinematography.  It should, however, be viewed only as a period piece and will not hod up if viewers approach it with the expectations they bring to a contemporary film.  The sound quality is poor, and frequent use of colloquialisms can be confusing for novice language students.


Introducing the Tape:

The tape needs to placed in the contexts of both Mexican cinema and Mexican history.  Viewers should be told that director Matilde Landeta, with the support of her brother Eduardo, was able to maintain artistic control over the production of the film and thus it is refreshingly daring in its approach to gender issues.


How to Borrow this Video:

The videos owned by the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies are housed in the Outreach Office of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  They are lent free of charge.  For information on films and reservations, please visit



Ranucci, Karen, ed. A Guide to Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino-Made Film and Video. Lanham, MD. Scarecrow Press. 1998.