Alfonso Cuarón’s Autobiography
Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma draws from the director’s tides of waves growing up in Rome. It was a bourgeois district in Mexico City, circa 1970. He said in an interview that he was not aware of the social, racial, or political conditions that occurred around him. He grew up in a cosmopolitan city. In addition, he is also unaware of the past difficulties his caregivers have experienced. Libo, Cuarón’s caretaker, grew up poor in a small village in Oaxaca. She was always there in Cuarón’s childhood. She takes care of him and shares stories about her life before. Before long, the young artist learned more about his country. He also learned about the socio-political forces at work. Libo is a 74-year-old native Mixtec.
The class belongs to the lower class in Mexican society than the director’s upper-class Spanish descent. While reflecting on his past, Cuarón thinks back to Libo. His role in his family, and many events, shaped his childhood. It all weaves into the film. The film refuses to elaborate on his autobiographical significance. In articulating a personal memory, Cuarón provides a shot of social drama. He uses Spanish in pure black and white. The audience, therefore, pays attention to self-conscious camera movement. Despite not being a masterpiece of realism, the material delivers an authentic yet elegant forgettable class. After all, Roma established life without irony. It reminds the audience of potential bonds, weaknesses, and love.
Netflix and Academy Awards
Even to note that Roma is an Oscar winner, it can hardly describe the unique phenomenon. Additionally, Netflix is forever changing its strategy around how to promote the movies. Radically, the film is changing the public’s expectations and the business world about what kinds of films win on digital platforms. Apart from the epic story that the filmmaker has not been able to write yet, the status becomes a crucial moment in film history by looking back. Netflix is leading an ambitious Oscar campaign that seems to cost nothing. The crew held commercials, interviews, and screenings for Oscar voters. Even though lunch is included, they host all the events with top celebrities. As with all tides of Roma, the same waves to the depiction of the main protagonist, Yalitza Aparicio.
She is a native Mexican woman and preschool teacher who never intended to pursue acting. However, Roma is her acting debut. Her fame itself is a phenomenon that people have to witness, especially in her country of origin, which is Mexico. Her presence in the highest echelons of the global entertainment industry issued racist words. It sparked a heated debate about the representation of indigenous peoples in Mexico. A stark difference becomes apparent between the film’s politically overt content and the main topic. Additionally, the context barely touched people during most of the interviews. Intrinsically, the politics of motherhood with the background of film politics and why the film is ultimately a more complex visual evidence.
The Ironic Term
As a newcomer, Aparicio plays a fictional version of Libo named Cleo. She works with Adela in Sofia’s privileged household and her husband, a doctor, Antonio. Apart from babysitting, cleaning, and cooking, Adela and Cleo remain in a world separate from their masters. They speak to each other in Mixtec Language. It is a language their employer cannot understand. They also live far from family members’ rooms. However, every night when Cleo put the kids to bed, they never said “goodnight.” They prefer to say, “I love you.” Likewise, with children who seem to understand what adults do not say, Cleo becomes a family member.
In the first sequence, the audience sees that the Rome people thought Cleo and the others were from the lower classes. If it is not seen, the lower class becomes an ironic term. Despite considering Cleo’s many tasks on the roof, space had almost become exclusively reserved for maids. Inside the house, adults-only recognizes Cleo when she is needed. Sofia scolds and orders Cleo to clean up the dog poop in the sequence. Antonio and Sofia also blame Cleo when a child hears a marital quarrel through a closed door. Regardless of which, she persisted and was steadfast, considering she was afraid of losing her job and returning to her hometown.
In short, Roma is tides of waves to the women’s endurance. The film appreciates Libo or the acknowledgment of a class of servants that people ignore in most cultures. In one sequence, Sofia is fed up with her husband, who is now a stranger. She approaches Cleo and says that people are always alone no matter what they tell Cleo. It became a lesson for Cleo after her single date with Fermin. He is a “martial artist” who practices his routine of using the shower curtain rod like a staff in a sort of mating ritual. After many weeks, Cleo found out that she was pregnant. Sofia’s reaction was one of surprising sympathy. It might be due to her marriage with Antonio falling apart.
The solidarity between these women emerged as a result of Antonio’s betrayal. It leads to the most moving moment in the film. However, it runs through minor domestic scenes and a social scene as the story progresses. In essence, it never loses Cleo’s marginalized perspective. Gradually, it absorbs into the whole family. In a specific moment, Cuarón orchestrates the ongoing human drama against the Corpus Christi massacre in June 1971. Mexican soldiers kill more than 100 student demonstrators. Although it lacks a political context, Cuarón uses the events to reflect Mexico itself. Cleo’s sudden descent into labor finally ended in tragedy. The movies have small ways of making things much more significant.
Roma speaks tides of waves, not just about matriarchy, as the media emphasizes too much in the film. However, it is also about patriarchy and the lingering effects of non-existent father figures. Most represent the personal and family realm but suggest a disease plaguing Mexican society as a whole, regardless of social class. In a specific moment, the film introduces Antonio as the head of the household. He is coming as an alien being driving his “spaceship.” Behind the garage porch, Cuarón aimed the camera, waiting for the Ford Galaxie to enter. The headlights shine brightly, framing an alienation in space. Antonio steered the car with great precision. On the other hand, the narrow parakeet and large car provide one of the most captivating motifs in the film.
From the outset, the visual provides a brief overview in characterizing Antonio. He is unreachable and remarkably absent, being a family member that does not fit into a mold. Funnily enough, the only sign Antonio left his family was the pile of books around the house. He just took the bookshelf. Symbolically, the narcissistic movement underscores the search for form without content. It represents direct violence as Fermin, whose martial arts prowess belittles Cleo and his unborn child. Gun aggression against Fermin in the store’s department is all indicator of his penchant for violence. After all, his role underscores the paramilitary group Los Halcones’s tendencies responsible for the massacres the film depicts.
Cleo and Masculinity
Violence is indirectly associated with Cuarón in Rome. He handled the toxicity subtly. At a specific moment, the final farewell between Antonio and Sofia occurred. When she hugged him on the street before he left, a marching military escort suddenly passed them. Another moment is when Fermin and Cleo watch a movie in the cinema during their last date. When she gave him the news that she had missed her period, the audience could understand that moments like these were significant for understanding film politics. For the most part, the film does not say anything in interviews.
Live performances that focus on the two female protagonists bring to the story are equally lost in the film’s critical margins. For Cleo’s representation, she hardly speaks more than one or two sentences. She did not say anything about her family, her childhood, and life in her village. In essence, she is a young woman who is full of care, love, and warmth towards the family where she works. Overall, Cleo remains the cipher. Roma has served as tides of waves in the serum for domestic women’s rights. In short, the points of view are, of course, not mutually exclusive. However, it is interesting as an example of how the film triggers such diversity and contradictory responses.
Cuarón’s voice is made more striking through his choice of camera, staging, and visuals. The more considerable socio-political power becomes the focus in the fragments that slide together. Back in the first sequence, one of the boys casually mentions seeing a soldier shoot dead a kid who was throwing a water balloon at an army jeep. He started talking from near Cleo’s hand as she prepared a plate of food. The film also interrupts a photo of parents and children watching TV in another scene. Cleo sat next to them on the floor, and her body draped over a child’s arm. Besides editing, Cuarón also writes expositions into casual-sounding conversations to keep the audience engaged.
The film does not step on the story by cutting it. Apart from the audience not needing to know, the audience also sees what they see from a distance. However, the film embodies its existence. Being a stunning yet emotional sequence conjures an oceanic feeling of being at one with the universe. In keeping with the climactic family journey, the audience feels the presence of Cleo and Cuarón in his vision of her, who is determined to fight the threatening waves. It becomes an image that Cuarón has dredged from the past but comes to life again through memory. In conclusion, Cuarón makes Roma his dedication to Libo, the woman who raised him in a house like the tides of waves in the film.
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- Partida, G. D. (2019). Are we or not? Traits of Mexican identity from Roma. Journal of Latin American Communication Research, 7(1-2), 79-105.
- Sharf, Z. (2018). Alfonso Cuarón Talks ‘Roma’: Why the Oscar Winner Partnered With Netflix and Became His Own Cinematographer (Exclusive). IndieWire.