Spanish with English subtitles, 1992, 81 minutes, color, U.S.A., Collection
El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez’s debut feature, sneaked into the 1993 Sundance Film Festival completely unheralded and emerged with the dramatic Audience Award…and cult film status. Rodriguez’s tale of an itinerant musician who is mistaken for a Mexican hit man manages to skewer the action/adventure/thriller genre at the same time that it incorporates its elements to propel the plot. Like a character out of a Hitchcock film, the naïve mariachi is thrown into a corrupt world he cannot control or understand and is gradually sucked into its evil labyrinth, where everything and everyone is for sale.
Filmed over just two weeks in Ciudad Acoma, Mexico, for about $7,000 with a handheld 16mm camera, El Mariachi has the look of a true independent with its grainy film, mix of speeded-up and slow motion, handmade tracking shots, quick cuts, and disorienting angles. Rodriguez shot and edited the film himself, and Carlos Gallardo cowrote the screenplay as well as playing the confused but charming mariachi.
Twenty years after its appearance, El Mariachi celebrates the exciting early years of indie filmmaking when anything was possible. Thanks to Sony Pictures Entertainment for making this print, restruck from preserved elements, available for this screening. - B. B.
About the Director
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Robert Rodriguez began his career filming high school football games but was fired for making them too “cinematic.” He shot his first feature, El Mariachi, for $7,000 and described that experience in his book, Rebel Without a Crew. El Mariachi won the Audience Award at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival and was recently added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Since its humble beginnings, Rodriguez’s career has produced more than 16 films, including Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Machete, Sin City, Grindhouse, and the popular Spy Kids series.
Cast and Credits
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenwriters: Carlos Gallardo, Robert Rodriguez
Producers: Carlos Gallardo, Carmen M. De Gallardo, Robert Rodriguez
Associate Producer: Elizabeth Avellan
Music: Alvaro Rodriguez, Cecillo Rodriguez, Eric Guthrie, Juan Suarez, Mark Trujillo
Cinematographer, Editor: Robert Rodriguez
Principal Cast: Carlos Gallardo , Consuelo Gomez , Jaime De Hoyos, Peter Marquardt, Reinol Martinez
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