DEL MERO CORAZON
Director / Cinematography: Les Blank
Production Co.: Brazos Films
Producer / Sound: Chris Strachwitz
Editor: Maureen Gosling
Consultant: Guillermo Hernandez
Music: Chavela Ortiz & Brown Express & Little Joe y la Familia
Leo Garza y Sus Estrellas
Richard Mejia y su Conjunto
English and Spanish
I saw a quote about sex and food being very metaphysical, serving as a link between the body and the soul. I would add music to that. It seems to tie the loose ends together.
- Les Blank
Del Mero Corazón is a lyrical journey through the heart of Chicano culture, as reflected on the love songs of the Tex-Mex Nortena music tradition. Love songs are the poetry of daily life - a poetry of passion and death, hurt and humour, pleasures and torn dreams of desire. In the film, these songs travel from the intimate family gatherings to community dance halls, from the borderlands to wherever La Raza works, lives, settles down. They are passed along, changed, and turned into new songs - always sung from the heart.
- Canyon Cinema, Ann Arbor, 1988
His truest, most expressive piece to date. Blank is a confirmed romantic, both philosophically, as he attempts to preserve on film aspects of our culture that are fast disappearing, and literally, as numerous shots of nature and beautiful young women indicate... Often several subjects in Del Mero Corazón compete for the viewer's attention. There is history, seen in an assortment of old hand-tinted photographs and through the words of Andres Berlanga, who recalls drinking home brew and writing and singing songs in downtown San Antonio for ten cents apiece. There is the issue of women's rights in Mexican American society, personified by Chevala Ortiz, who plays the accordion, traditionally a male instrument. And there are expressions of pride in La Raza, demonstrated by street murals in San Jose and by 'Las Nubes', an uplifting anthem to the Latin heritage, sung by Little Joe y la Familia.
- Joe Nick Patoski, Texas Monthly, 4/80
In his Texas-Mexican documentaries Chulas Fronteras and its sequel Del Mero Corazón, Blank keeps his personal-lyrical approach to filmmaking, but goes further than in previous films to show the past and its influence on the present...
Del Mero Corazón covers much of the same territory [as Chulas Fronteras] but focuses on love songs - thus the title, 'Straight from the Heart'. Though half as long as Chulas Fronteras, Corazón includes an even broader perspective on Chicano society. Besides the usual celebrations, most particularly a wedding sequence, which emphasize the continuity of family and social life, Blank includes scenes that cut against the gaiety and romanticism to suggest dark elements. There is a cartoon of the dance of death, perhaps from the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead, a long sequence in a cemetary as a mournful ballad about visiting a tomb plays (plastic flowers are contrasted ironically with real ones), shots of cockroaches scuttling across tables, Dantesque night shots of a Texas highway with billboards followed by the appearance of a bar called El Inferno, followed by the appearance of a Felliniesque whore. Then there is the local politician who speaks of the need to shut down the bars and cantinas and open more schools. The politician's words stay with us. Surely the Chicanos could use some more education and of course no one should spend his or her life in a cantina. And yet... without the cantinas and bars and low life, this strongly regional music would never have come to be. More so than in any of Blank's other films, the words of the political candidate serve to create a dialectical tension, without being didactic, which forces the viewer to participate in the rich romanticism of the music at the same time that he is made to sense the conflicts and problems that have produced his music.
- Andrew Horton, ĎA Well Spent Life: Les Blank's Celebrations on Film', Film Quarterly, Spring 1982