Arturo Ripstein's film "A place without limits" was extremely interesting and beautiful to see because its desperate symbolic and creative cry is extremely similar to that of Jorge Fons's "El callejon de los Milagros" and Ignacio Ortiz's "La horilla de la tierra". All three films are symbolic studies of an incredible Mexican mystical alienation, and the disturbing relationship of sexuality and violence. Although Ripstein's film is about twenty years older than the other two films, it is my belief that these obsessions of mysticism, sexuality violence, and identity have haunted the Mexican artistic mind ever since the demon/angel of modernism was released due to the fragmentation caused by WWI and the second modernist wave after WWII. In Europe Surrealism, Dadaism, Cubism, Futurism, and Vorticism had an extreme impact upon social and cultural behavior due to the amount of individuals involved within these groups. Mexico, however, did not see these impacts as profoundly, until some of these European rebels, anarchists, and artists sought Mexico as an escape from Europe: People like Andre Breton, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dali, Luis Buñuel, etc. Three very important figures in Mexican modernism, however, are Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Octavio Paz. Of the three, Octavio Paz is, at least to me, the most important artist to have ever come out of Mexico: A Nobel laureate surrealist master whose work represents the Mexican spirit better than any other voice. And it is Paz's voice I hear, and his poetic angst echoing in "A place without limits". Just like Paz's poetry depicts an ancient Mexico that can only be dreamed of and witnessed through poetic visions, Ripstein brings his viewers to a rural and long forgotten small town in Mexico where violence and sexuality blindfold the population's unconsciousness like a soft and sensual fog. Something I disliked about the film was the acting, which seemed extremely theatrical: although the language used in the film is very quotidian the delivery by the subjects seemed false. On the other hand, the editing and cinematography were extremely raw. The cuts are not very fluid, and the camera movements are not conventional: when we want to see more, Ripstein shows us less, and when we want to see less he shows us more. This has a powerful effect on the audience due to the graphic and taboo content of the film. I found it extremely interesting that Roberto Cobo took on the role of Manuela, but at the same time, I saw it as both an artistic and spiritual necessity: about twenty years before this film he played Jaibo in Buñuel's Los Olvidados. According to Julio Cortazar: "Everything is fine in the outskirts of the city
poverty and promiscuity do not alter the established order, the blind can sing and beg in squares, while the young boys play at bull-fighting on dry waste-ground
then Jaibo enters". If one pays attention at the description, it could apply to both Los Olvidados and to A place without Limits; however, in Los Olvidados Roberto Cobo plays the Alpha Male, the destroyer of balance and peace, while he plays the peaceful and abused victim in A place without Limits. To me this is not only brave, but beautiful and magical: if he had played the role of Pancho in this film (which he could of),he would have become a clown
a routine, an actor that fulfills the same character over and over again
but he took on the role of Manuela, which is the complete opposite of what Jaibo was. By taking this chance he experienced ambivalence and exorcised himself (as originally a non-actor) of the image the character of Jaibo created for him. Becoming Manuela was not only powerful, but also glorious for Roberto Cobo's image in Mexican Cinema. Returning to the earlier comparison between Ripstein and Paz, I must admit that "A place without limits" is a pure Mexican film: the beautiful imagery and presentation are "Mexican", the places, the images, the words: they belong there
sociologically, culturally and collectively the film is a Mexican mesh. The film is an obsessive study of a dreamer's imagination, attempting to collect the pieces that make the whole of his culture: and by creating a very simplistic form of film-making, with no bull, and no unimportant and unnecessary complex flamboyant embellishments, Ripstein saturates his mise en scène with colors, shapes and objects that cannot be found anywhere else. Similarly, Octavio Paz's glorious surrealist imagination saturates the white pages of his work with images, sounds, tastes, places and occurrences that cannot be experienced anywhere else. Their incomprehensible connection of sexuality and violence are also part of the Mexican Mythological archetypes of contemporary existence: Don Aleju represents the Old-Rich man who moans and bitches at everyone
the stereotypical man who "asks" for the respect he believes he deserves, and lives behind a well-mannered mask for personal interest. Pancho is the stereotypical alpha-male, a macho feared by all, and Manuela represents the free spirit of change, originality, freedom, and carelessness, which is a force that is feared by those who fear their very own self. Pancho's obvious, yet unconscious homosexual tendencies are his self-purification: a counterattack on his macho fixation
. While Don Aleju's attempt at ultimate control and ownership only take him further away from himself and from others, yet one can see (in the party scene where Manuela dances) that he indeed needs of others and that unconsciously he desires to be liked and accepted rather than feared and revered. A place without limits is a fierce, magical and hypnotizing film. What else could Ripstein have done to achieve perfection? Have Manuela dance more than two times.