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Time to Die

Video Intro by Alex Cox • Muenzinger Auditorium

Time to Die
Video intro by Alex Cox. From Mexico: Something classic, something new.

A man returns to the dusty village of his youth after an 18-year absence. A couple is fleetingly reunited after decades apart. A pair of hot-headed brothers seeks to avenge a murder they neither witnessed nor fully comprehend. There is a gun battle.

In many ways, “Tiempo de Morir” (“A Time to Die”), the 1966 debut drama by Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein, a protegé of Luis Buñuel, fits squarely within the category of western — in which life-and-death issues of honor and justice play out amid lawlessness and parched landscapes.

But the film may be most notable for the writer behind its screenplay, a former journalist from Colombia by the name of Gabriel García Márquez.

The film touches on many of the themes that would materialize in García Márquez’s fiction — tradition, propriety, fate. It is a story of vengeance that is also at its essence about the dynamics of family. And there is the setting that feels as if it’s at a remove from reality.

But above all, there is the sense that individuals can’t escape destiny. In “Tiempo de Morir,” the lead character’s impending death is ultimately what gives the film its tension. The viewer knows it is coming — it’s announced right at the beginning.

“Film is extremely concrete,” [Rodrigo] García says. “Even now with the great resource of visual effects, you still need a great deal of mastery not just of technique but storytelling. To try to get poetry out of that will always be hard.”

Still, cinema would remain García Márquez’s passion, even if it was one he observed at a distance. As he told the Paris Review in 1981: “My relation with it is like that of a couple who can’t live separated, but who can’t live together either.”

Time to Die

Tue November 14, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium

Mexico, in Spanish, Black and White, 90 min, 1.37 : 1

Director: Arturo Ripstein, Writer: Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, Cast: Marga López, Jorge Martínez de Hoyos, Enrique Rocha, Alfredo Leal, Blanca Sánchez

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