Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chile, Land of Charm

Yesterday, TCM ran the Traveltalks short Chile: Land of Charm. Thankfully, it's one of the shorts that's made it's way to Youtube. There's a good deal in the short to make it interesting for film buffs.

The short starts off a bid differently from a lot of the Traveltalks shorts, as it has an extended sequence on the cruise ship taking Fitzpatrick and his crew down to Chile. It's yet another example of how Fitzpatrick, a travel agent before becoming film narrator, caters to the upper-middle class and above demographic who would have been the only people able to afford the sort of traveling that we see in these shorts. Average people would never have been able to afford the trip financially, and wouldn't have had the time to take it, either. Fitzpatrick also makes a point to show us the various resorts and fashionable outdoor cafés, which is where we also see the awful fruity consuela cocktail. (No, I don't like snagria either.)

Watch for the scenes in which Fitzpatrick discusses the non-Hispanic ethnic groups, which are referred to as "Indians" because back in the 1930s, nobody was suggesting the use of any of the hyphenated terms. There's a shot of a bunch of them in an animal-drawn cart, all trying to look gamely happy. One wonders, however, just how happy they were in real life.

There's also a self-referential shot that I can't help but wonder was staged. We get to a movie theater, and the side of the marquee advertises One in a Million. This Sonja Henie film for Fox was released in the States in 1936, the year before the Traveltalks short was released. That's reasonable, considering that it would have taken some time to distribute Hollywood films to the rest of the world, with Chile probably coming well after Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Besides, the short would have been filmed some time before it reached theaters; I'd guess early 1937 because it looks like summer. The front of the marquee, however, is the interesting part, as it announces the time of the feature, and then adds, "Y un viaje de Fitzpatrick". Somehow I really doubt that's the way theaters were advertising their showings back then. It also surprises me that Fitzpatrick couldn't do this at a theater showing an MGM film.

All that having been said, there's also quite a bit of scenery that's visually beautiful, and would make me think about planning a trip to Chile if I had the time and money. I always enjoy James Fitzpatrick's trips abroad.


Clara Fercovic said...

Thanks for sharing, it's so interesting to see how my country looked like almost a century ago :)

Oh, and about the mapuches, goverments have never been able to establish adequate politics to protect their culture and give response to their demands. To this day, there are some groups fighting to get back their ancestral lands.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

I'm glad you liked it. The Traveltalks shorts are some of my favorites because they're such interesting looks at the past.

I didn't know much of anything about the Mapuches since we never learned about them in school. When it came to the peoples who were here before Columbus, we obviously learned about the ones in the US, especially the Iroquois here in New York. South of the US, it was the Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas, and not much else. I always wondered why Chile and Argentina didn't seem to have the issues with non-European peoples that the rest of Latin America seemed to have.

Oh, and the lake region looks beautiful. :-)