Film: 7440

Places + Locations | 1930 | Silent | B/W


Picturesque scenes of the canals and chinampa floating islands of Xochimilco, on the outskirts of Mexico city, tourism and boat rides on decorated trajineras, faces of local men and women, flower sellers and displays of traditional Mexican music and dances 1930's

A hand opens a large book, next to a lit to a page with information written about Xocimilco, the Venice of the Americas, an area of floating gardens on the outskirts of Mexico City, the film will show a cross section of people, dancing singing and boats, a hand reaches out and turns the page over to a blank one.

Wispy clouds illuminated from behind by the sun spread across the sky, against the sky are the silhouettes of some tall trees. An area of water surrounded by tall trees, perfectly still so that the reflections an be seen as if it were a mirror, a piece of land covered in clumps of grass to the left, one of Xocimilcos chinampas, a floating island used for agriculture. From the bank of a canal, bordered by tall trees and grassy lands a small boat with a cover can be seen passing on the other side.

Now a boy standing up on a canoe like vessel is punting along with a pole in the sunshine, the expanse of trees and lush vegetation behind him. The torso of the boy, he is quite young, wearing a white collarless shirt and a wide brimmed straw hat which casts a shadow over his face, he smiles and continues to push along with his left arm holding the top of the pole, which crosses his body to his right hand. From his knees down, he is wearing some kind of tunic or shorts which leave his legs and feet bare, he is standing at the end of a very narrow wooden canoe. He continues on down the canal, feet planted at the end of the boat, pushing with the stick.

A view of the canal from behind a leaning tree growing on the bank, a little wind ripples the leaves and the water slightly. The trees passing over head, silhouetted against the sky, a part of a boats decorated roof can be seen. Bundles of white flowers arranged in a ball shape hang off an arch at the back of the boat, the boat is turning in circles in the water showing the canal and the landscape surrounding it.

A man passes by on a long narrow canoe loaded with produce, in the background some simple structures with tiled roofs can be seen. A group of men in boats on the water’s edge, one man is hammering away, fixing something in a long canoe, another man stands at the other end with a pole, raises his hat and sits down, two others sit facing each other in a wider boat, in the background are lines of grand tall trees, a local kind of juniper, ahuejotes.

Two men in a large boat with an arched roof structure covering part of it punt away in the distance, another man in a small canoe wearing a white shirt and shorts and a straw hat floats past, in front of a large bush, the towering ahuejote trees in the background. Two canoes come slowly down a narrow canal, bordered by juniper trees, one is steered by a man in the same white garments and hat on his own, the other is directed by two men with poles who push on one side of the boat in time.

A row of barges, known there as trajineras, some with covered arches and others with only the frame roofs, are lined up along the bank of the canal, next to a small pavilion and some wooden buildings. A view down the tree lined canal of men in canoes and the end of a decorated trajinera as it passes by, the other bank of the canal is busy with boats, both canoes and trajineras, which crowd around a boarding jetty. Fade into a woman seated in a canoe, rowing forward slowly, behind a line of decorated trajinera barges with passengers, on the right bank a cultivated field, part of the chinampa network, can be seen.

Fade into a panorama of the canal, crowded with many decorated and covered barges, lining up on both sides obviously at a busy boarding point, some two story buildings on the left bank and rows of juniper trees on the right. A barge with a covering flapping from the roof comes past. On a wide canal with buildings on the bank trajinera barges float past, loaded with passengers sitting in the shade of the arched canopies, a much larger wooden boat with a motor, full of passengers, ploughs past in the other direction, a man stands at the front of the boat in a white shirt. Fade into a view down a wide canal full of barges floating away on the right and coming up on the left, pan to a man in a tiny canoe, pushing his way through the trajineras on the right, going in the other direction.

A row of women, wrapped in dark shawls, sit waiting on the floor at the edge of a street with round baskets, some full of flowers. Close up of the face of a young woman with short dark hair looking to the left, she has jeweled earrings and a heavy looking necklace of beads, she turns her head, away, looking at something going by, and smiles. Stacks of vegetables piled up in a market street, illuminated in the sunlight, the feet and baskets of people passing by in the shade can be seen on the left. The head and shoulders of another young woman with short shiny black hair held back by a head band, she has long dangling earrings and is wearing lipsticks, she looks around, smiling and nods to someone in the distance, in the background is a church tower. The face of a serious looking man with a large moustache, wearing a sombrero looks around.

A covered market, a stall with rows of barrels containing fruit juices, men in shirts and hats and women in long dresses mill about, the market is covered with white, tent like tarpaulins, in one area are some tables where people sit eating. An old woman wearing a shawl sits on the floor with her head in the shade in front of a blanket covered in herbs and vegetables, in the fore ground another woman with pigtails holds a wooden bowl up to show customers what she is selling. Profile of a smiling young woman’s face in the sunshine, she has short black hair and jeweled ear hoops. The face of a young boy in a wide-brimmed sombrero hat, standing by a tree, he looks behind him and blinks.

A hand holds up a model of a canoe against the water, it is filled with vegetables, a man and woman sat in the middle dressed in white wearing sombreros. Four round flowers made from reeds and stuck on palm leaves fanned out, the market in the background with people walk around. A young girl with a braid looks up shyly, holding her poncho up to cover her mouth, she smiles. Back to the reed flowers, in the background a young man in a sombrero is staring at the camera. The back and arm of a woman as she makes one of the flowers, folding the reeds and weaving them into the circular design. Two adolescent girls wearing sunhats and dresses with large collars stand side by side with their arms round each other, one points to something.

The hands of a musician in a black jumper plucking a harp. Through some netting an audience sits watching a group of women in frilly skirts, lace and typical Tehuana headdresses, dancing in a circle, holding out their long skirts. Upshot of a smiling young woman with long pigtails standing against the trees, ornately dressed with strings of beads, hoop earrings bangles and bows. Three young women wearing traditional embroidered blouses, beads and sombreros laugh as they pose together in a line. A circle of women dressed in white with headscarves on watch two women zapatear, or stamp, out a traditional Mexican dance, the two women have long flowing patterned skirts.

A young man in a sombrero leaning back, tips up his hat to reveal his face. A coy young girl with a plait wrapped around her head looks up and smiles. The young man looks serious and brooding as he stares to the left. The women zapateando continue to dance, now a crowd has gathered, another woman stands beside them with a basket. A large group of mariachis, dressed in sombreros and suits, sit playing guitars and bandoles. There is a large audience sat in rows of chairs under a cover, the banda sits and stands on a podium to their right. A group of children dressed in smart white clothes look on smiling chewing sweets.

Two more traditionally dressed women dance in a barge at the edge of the bank, a group looks on, narrow canoes with well dressed passengers standing up in them pass back and forth in front of the dancing women. Pairs of girls dance across a wooden stage with a painted screen in the background, one stands behind the other, holding them from behind as they take steps, they let go and form a line, jumping up and down and turning around.

A wide canal full of decorated trajinera boats with the juniper trees in the background, a barge crosses, a wooden arch at the front decorated with flowers, the boat shaded by a canopy made from a white sheet hung over arches made from branches, a young man in a white shirt and a sombrero stands on the back, steering it with a long pole. Behind the barge follows a small rowing boat which a man rows with two young women sitting in it. A view of a very straight canal from a bridge, the chinampas can be seen either side blooming with vegetation, the trajineras are steered down by their drivers, some are moored at the edge of the canal.

A young boy steers a trajinera, decorated with many flowers, along the edge of the canal, another barge follows behind him. A young woman in a dress and shirt sits rowing a canoe covered in flowers. She holds up bunches of white flowers, one in each hand and pulls herself toward the bank. A close up of a bunch of the flowers. A young woman with large pearl earrings and short curly hair poses with a bunch of flowers, holding one between her teeth she smiles and puts her face into the flowers to smell them.

A view from a bridge of the canal congested with the decorated barges, many parked along the edges, some trying to pass through the middle. Another view of the congested canal in a different direction, there are hedges on the left side a small bridge further up and a path to the right where many people walk along the canal’s edge. Two young girls crouch at the end of a boat floating in the water, clapping their hands. Back to the view of the bridge and the canal, bustling with people and barges.

A wide intersection in the canal network with a large overhung bush on the right, the white canopies of some of the boats can be seen in the distance, further down one of the canals. A white wooden boat with a motor drives up a wide canal, lined with juniper trees, creating ripples in the still water that reflects the ahuejotes, a man in a canoe steadies his vessel in the wake of the motorboat. The canal intersection, partially obscured by the large bush.

Pan across light almond shaped leaves floating on the reflective surface of the dark water, the tree’s reflections ripple. The tops of the tall ahuejote trees seen from below in a trajinera that is slowly moving along the canal, the letters written in flowers on its arch are visible on the left. A view of the sunny canal from the bank, bordered by many juniper trees, the water speckled with leaves, in the distance a man rows off in a small canoe.

A man in white shorts and a jacket stands rowing a small canoe away from the bank. A view of the canal from behind some foliage. The tops of the juniper trees against the cloudy sky. A view of the bank of the canal, covered in grasses and trees blowing in the wind from behind a bush on the opposite bank. A carpet of dark clouds are illuminated from behind by the bright sun. Back to the titles book and the candle, a hand turns the last pages to the back cover, THE END.

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