The Forgotten Village: Life in a Mexican Village
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The novelist who wrote The Grapes of Wrath and the director who produced Crisis and Lights Out in Europe combined their superb talents to tell the story of the coming of modern medicine to the natives of Mexico. There have been several notable examples of this pen-camera method of narration, but The Forgotten Village is unique among them in that the text was written before a single picture was shot. The book and the movie from which it was made have, thus, a continuity and a dramatic growth not to be found in the so-called documentary films.
The camera crew that, headed by Kline and with Steinbeck's script at hand, recorded this narrative of birth and death, of witch doctors and vaccines, of the old Mexico and the new, spent nine months off the trails of Mexico. They traveled thousands of miles to find just the village they needed; they borrowed children from the government school, took men from the fields, their wives from the markets, and old medicine woman from her hut by the side of the trail. The motion picture they made (for release in 1941) is 8000 feet long. From this wealth of pictures 136 photographs were selected for their intrinsic beauty and for the graceful harmony with which they accompany Steinbeck's text.
This new script-photograph technique of narration conveys its ideas with unexcelled brilliance and immediacy. In the hands of such master story-tellers as Steinbeck and Kline, it makes the reader catch his breath for the beauty and the truth of the tale.
what we found, only arranging it to make a coherent story. The most difficult problem of all was the method of telling the story to an American audience. Sound recorded on the scene was impracticable: the village was inaccessible to sound equipment. Dialogue was out of the question, even in Spanish, since many of the older people spoke little Spanish; they used the Indian language of their ancestors. The usual narrative method did not seem quite adequate. It was decided finally to use the method
ancient life goes on, sometimes little changing in a thousand years. But now from the cities of the valley, from the schools and laboratories, new thinking and new techniques reach out to the remote villages. The old and the new meet and sometimes clash, but from the meetings a gradual change is taking place in the villages. This is a story of the little pueblo of Santiago on the skirts of a hill in the mountains of Mexico. And this is the story of the boy Juan Diego and of his family and of
“it is the water. The well is contaminated.” “Trini will cure it, whatever it is,” the father said. Trini said angrily, “What is this nonsense—these new things—these young men who tell their elders? You will kill the people with your new foolishness. This for your nonsense!” And she threw his medicines to the ground. Trini sat beside Paco. “So the egg did not cure?” she asked. “Well, I have another cure, a better one. “We will draw the pains downward to his feet. We will suck the
happy. They listened, half believing, to the story. The Wise Woman worked her magic, and chanted the old words:“Now he is forming, Now he is ready. “Now he has hands. Now he has eyes. Now he is forming.” When the birth was near, they awakened the father to give strength and comfort to the mother. Between his knees he held her and braced her against her pain, and took some of the pain to himself. And Trini worked with the last labor. She chanted, “Now he is formed, now he is
many children were sick and the fiesta did not cure them. And the white headbands of the Wise Woman were everywhere. And more children were sick, and the people of Santiago were frightened. In fear they carried the Saint and the Christ in procession. “Our Guardian, look on the sadness of Thy village,” they sang. “Look on the children. Save us from this sorrow. “Show us the sin we have committed, that we may repent. Save us from this sorrow. Look on Thy people and Thy village. Look