Many were the films we saw in black and white, meeting the Mexican ranchers and listening to their songs. There we learned about the importance of horses for ranchers, for Mexican charros. We met the horses in Mexican cinema and we got to know them.
Mexican cinema galloping in the memories of our childhood
It is difficult to think that the generations that were born in the 50s and 60s, do not have in their memories some memories associated with the family reunion in front of the television watching Mexican films. Even the youngest can remember this trend with retransmissions. The horses in the Mexican cinema and their charro were projected in our memories, dreams and hearts.
First steps of Mexican cinema
From its first steps the Mexican cinema had very present the charro and his horse. Recall that the horse and his photography were precursors of cinema. So we can say that the horse in the Mexican cinema was a normal step of the beginning of the cinema. So anywhere in the world.
The Lumieres brothers send a delegate to promote cinema in Mexico
Mexican cinema began with the “views”. The “views” are filming of everyday situations, such as the cavalcade of horses in the desert or the entrance of the train to a station. In the Mexican case, the views of the landscapes where the ranchers galloped in the mountains and Mexican plains, taken by filmmakers sent by the Lumiere brothers in 1896, are relevant.
The first films
The first Mexican films were silent. For the year 1907, the actor Felipe de Jesus Haro presented a short version was a short version of Don Juan Tenorio, classic work of the Spanish literature of the author José Zorrilla.
The following year, in 1908, El Grito de Dolores or Independencia de México was filmed in a silent version.
El Grito de Dolores (The scream of Dolores)
In El Grito de Dolores or the Independence of Mexico we can see a fundamental scene where the priest Hidalgo, as rider of a white steed, carries in one hand the banner with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, haranguing the town of Dolores.
That white horse will become a symbol in Mexican historical cinema. This would be the first film of Mexican cinema that would become famous and would include the horse as one of the protagonists. This is the first famous film of the horse in Mexican cinema.
Porfirio Díaz the French president who promoted the cinema
President Porfirio Díaz saw France as the country that represented the only progress in the world.
That is why the invention that came from France with the Lumiere, together with the friendship that with the projectionists, led him to consider it a great opportunity to highlight his work of government and the beauties of Mexico, as a way to integrate the different areas of the Mexican space.
Porfirio Díaz in his government was characterized by an enlightened despotism where only a few elites dominated the scene. This is going to change with the Mexican Revolution led by Francisco Ignacio Madero.
Friendship with projectionists and Mexican cinema
Porfirio Díaz struck up a friendship with two of the projectionists of the brothers Luis and Auguste Lumier.
The projectionists were Claude Ferdinand Von Bernard and Gabriel Veyre.
The official interest in Mexico for scientific advances in France was evident throughout the Mexican reality.
Between 1896 and 1897, Mexico became the first country in the Americas where the French made a series of films that will be shown in the country.
The French: first producers in the Americas
The first films filmed by the French in Mexico, had as a source of inspiration, the president of the republic riding a horse in the Bosque de Chapultepec. Also, 35 short films were filmed in the city of Mexco, as well as in the cities of Guadalajara and Veracruz.
These films showed, in addition to different breeds of horses that had begun to be imported into Mexico, it also showed the architectural and landscape beauty of the Bosque de Chapultepec.
Allá en el Rancho Grande (There on the big ranch): the movie
There in the big ranch is a romantic drama shot in 1936. It was directed by Fernando de La Fuente, with the performances of Esther Fernández and Tito Guizar.
It is a look at the customs of the landowners in Mexico, where the importance of horses in everyday life is fundamental at this time. They were not only transport vehicles, but the best friends of Mexican men. It was the relevant complement of his masculinity.
In the script we see a relationship of friendship between the caporal José Francisco and the landowner Felipe. This friendship, then a rivalry is transformed by the love of the young peasant girl who is taken by José Francisco.
The film became a trend of Mexican cinema that later produced a series of films of Mexican rural life, such as La hacienda en 1921, Nobleza Baturro, in 1935 and Vámonos con Pancho Villa, also in 1935
Allá en el Rancho Grande (There on the big ranch): the song
This song is part of popular culture; nevertheless a whole controversy was generated regarding his true authorship.
As with many traditional expressions, particularly those related to the lyrics of songs and different musical expressions, the authors are lost in this process that is transmitted from generation to generation.
They say that the song already existed, even before the film and before it became popular in the record company. The truth is that the projection that cinema gave to the song is beyond doubt.
This is an example of how the horse in Mexican cinema managed to project popular culture to the next generations.
Fragment of “Allá en el Rancho Grande”
Allá en el rancho grande, allá donde vivía, / There on the big ranch, where he lived,
Había una rancherita, que alegre me decía, / There was a rancherita, who was happy to tell me,
Que alegre me decía: / How happy he told me:
“Te voy a hacer tus calzones, como los que usa el ranchero. / “I’m going to make your underpants, like the ones the rancher uses.
Te los comienzo de lana, Te los acabo de cuero.” / I’ll start them with wool, I’ll finish them with leather”.
A future perspective of Mexican cinema
After the power struggles in Mexico, the creation of a film industry began and the national film production company was founded in 1932.
The charros and their identity
One of the most transcendental figures in Mexican culture is the charro that in Mexico represents the rider who performs “la charrería” considered a national sport that connects as the most important events in Mexican history and the importance of the horse as a fundamental icon of Mexican cinema.
The image of the charro that sings, the emblem of Mexican virility.
Horses are associated with all the work of men in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
A charro without a horse is incomplete. The horse is his complement, integrates his personality, shapes his true identity.
What is Mexican charrería?
The charrería is associated with the set of skills and abilities that the men of the horse have.
These are the equestrian skills that are typical of the Mexican charro. The specialists in the subject say that it is “a spectacle sport” very rooted in Mexico and it develops in spaces similar to the bullring.
The charrería since December 1, 2016, became an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Horses in Mexican cinema, the protagonist in the tasks
After the work, the job continued. Once the horses were worked, the pawns and some caporales even the odd patron, for fun they mounted it in different styles. They did it to show the skill and strength of the rider. It also helped to tame the equines. They took advantage of showing the skills and abilities of the rider.
When the cattle are herded to take it from one place to another, some cattle brave. To soften and tame them they were taken by the tail to knock it down (coleadero). The horses were tied with a loop for the hindquarters (piales) and / or forwards (manganas)
It is essential to mention the field activities carried out by the characters in the films. In their daily work they had to mark cure and castrate the cattle. A loop was placed on the head and hindquarters (terna), to the equines of the forequarters
The horse in a Mexican cinema as a symbol
The horse is a symbol in Mexican cinema because it has become one of the symbols of its most transcendent conquests in history.
They tell us that in the conquest, those born in Mexico could not ride horses because the Viceroyalty of Spain, forbade the Indians and mestizos, to mount or own a horse, until independence allowed them to become men on horseback.
As we have seen, we can not even think about the existence of a Mexican charro, without the presence of a beautiful horse. The horse in Mexican cinema is synonymous with charros and tradition.
El libro de charrería. José Valero Silva, 1989. México, D.F. Gráficas Montalbán.
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