Alfonso Cuarón

b. 28 November, 1961, Mexico City, Mexico.

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Moviemakers these days work in a field undergoing many kinds of change, but perhaps the most notable is the collapse of the old notion of a ‘foreign film.’

– Elisabeth Eaves (1)

Up to 2008, only two of the six long features Alfonso Cuarón has directed had been produced in Mexico and made in Spanish. Nevertheless, many industries and critics still classify him as a Mexican film director. What does this mean, to be a Mexican director? Even more, where does the difference between a director and a Mexican director rest upon?

As far as I am concerned the argument is not to consider Cuarón as a director, or as a Mexican director, but as a geographer. No matter where he or she stands, the discovered territories (stories) must be analyzed and described (by telling them). A moral obligation lies behind. The storyteller is always compelled to tell the story, no matter what the conditions are. Or as Thomas Elsaesser says: “filmmaking without a passport” (2). A geographer crosses borders and Cuarón has proved to be a master in the field. Disregarding the barriers of language, he has worked in several countries within four different industries (Mexico, Hollywood, France and England) in distinct languages. “This zigzagging has made him an intriguing and in some ways exemplary figure in contemporary world cinema, and the movies themselves show remarkable exuberance and versatility.” (3)

Obviously, he is not the first director to have immigrated and achieved success in Hollywood. Even more, he is not the first director to have crossed borders in order to pursue a career: from the “exotic” Mexico to the “glamorous” Hollywood, back to Mexico and returning to Hollywood via England. Indeed, he may not be considered an author like Pedro Almodóvar, but it is important to analyze the conditions that allowed the zigzagging to exist. The films of Alfonso Cuarón force us to review the state of the film industry and the definition of world cinema. It is compelling to analyze the map in order to understand the work of the geographer. With every step of the way Cuarón took, his style and the genre he choose to film changed.

The Mexican in Mexico

I am not purely interested in ‘Mexican cinema’, I am interested in cinema.

– Alfonso Cuarón (4)

Alfonso Cuarón was born in Mexico City in 1961. The son of a doctor and a housewife, his childhood is not different from other directors’: he wanted to make films since he was a child. Either watching movies at home or in cinema theatres, as well as using his siblings for his Super 8 films, those were his hobbies. He watched everything that was available in Mexico City at the time: John Ford, Vittorio De Sica, John Huston, Felipe Cazals. Near his house was located the legendary Churubusco Film Studios, built in 1945 and financed by RKO Radio Pictures. (5) By the time he turned twelve years old, he was already inside the Studios watching how they were making films.

After high school, Cuarón studied Philosophy at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and Film at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos (CUEC).

During my first month I was repeatedly told the words ‘fascist’, ‘macho’, ‘bourgeois’. Everything was ideology. I was politicised but not that prejudiced. Inside were people that wanted to make political ideology, rather than cinema. […] I insisted that a good movie could have a political content and a political and ideological elevation, stronger than a discursive propaganda film.

I liked the CUEC because I entered into a film community and little by little I began to break away from radical students. (6)

Nevertheless, he never graduated since he and other students produced a short film in English and were expelled from the school due to arrogance. They played with a sacred object: language. They wrote the fiction in English instead of Spanish. The anecdote is interesting because it reflects the status of the Mexican film industry at the time: the most successful films (from Hollywood) were written in English since they were better marketed and viewed by more people. For Cuarón, the notion that films in Mexico should be filmed in Spanish and treat local themes was old-fashioned. This ironic since Cuarón and his brother Carlos earned an Academy Nomination for Best Original Screenplay – for a film written in Spanish.

It was also in film school, through friends, that he met cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who would become crucial for his career.

Whereas in many other countries film school signifies a dialectical step for students to achieve maturity and artistic expression, in Mexico, for Cuarón’s generation, it was the place where filmmakers recently graduated were used by the government to pursue propaganda or commercial effects. When Cuarón started to work in the industry in 1983, the ruling party was the PRI, which officially represented the interests of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Neither from the left or right, the PRI ruled for more than 70 years (until 2000), through a network of corruption and paternalism.

Instead of working for an industry that was reluctant to invest in films, after being expelled Cuarón became responsible for the cine-club at the National Museum of Art (MUNAL). He also served as an assistant director for several Mexican and American productions such as Romero (John Duigan, 1989), Nocaut (José Luis Garcia Agraz, 1984) and Gaby: A True Story (Luis Mandoki, 1987). Nevertheless, his opportunity to be a director was in the sitcom Hora Marcada, sponsored by a private television channel, which was supposed to resemble The Twilight Zone, and Cuarón ultimately called “The Toilet Zone”, due to the limited budget the productions received. It was making these episodes that his film education matured and prepared him to tell stories no matter the settings, locations or the budgets he was offered.

Time passed and Cuarón felt the need to develop his own projects, rather than assisting others or directing the same horror stories over and over again. In order to start his own projects, on a New Year’s Eve, he and his brother Carlos started to develop the screenplay that would eventually become his first feature: Sólo con tu pareja (Love in the Time of Hysteria, 1991).


Sólo con tu pareja

The movie represents a challenge in many ways. Since the introduction of film in Mexico in the 1890s, the audience was attracted to cinema and this fidelity was reflected in a growing industry. By the 1950s (when Luis Buñuel was resurrecting his career), more than 100 films were produced per year. (7) However, a decade later an economic crisis and the experiments of young directors like Rubén Gámez, Rafael Corkhidi and Alejandro Jodorowsky caused a rift between the industry and audience. As the academic Leonardo García Tsao asserts:

the movie scene was pretty poor then. So people of that generation developed and sustained a prejudice against Mexican films. It was a class thing. The upper-middle classes deemed that watching Mexican movies didn’t benefit their social position: they felt that only the lower classes would go to see such films. (8)

It was inevitable. For many years, directors like Emilio Fernández and Fernando de Fuentes created an idyllic place where the charros (Mexican cowboys) drank tequila and sung cheerful songs; women were dressed in traditional costumes and lead a happy life. Others, like Ismael Rodríguez, Alberto Gout and Alejandro Galindo, were more concerned about social and urban issues, creating wonderful melodramas loved by the low and middle class audiences. There was no experimentation and young filmmakers were desperate to import some of the new techniques that were causing excitement in Europe. In short, the Golden Age of the Mexican cinema (1940s-1950s) served the purpose of creating and consolidating a growing industry, while also establishing the conditions where directors would likely to work without restrictions. It constructed and established a national fictional “identity” (9).

In contrast, the young filmmakers produced films that were against the dominant system on a political, social and artistic level. Tired of melodramas and love stories set in folkloric landscapes, they started to experiment with the form and content. This resulted in the collapse of the Mexican film industry around 1960s.

Mexico City chilli westerns and movies about hookers and narcs dominated Mexican cinema during the 1980’s and half of the 90’s. This low-brow industry, combined with the decrepit state of movie theaters and the influx of home videos, pushed the middle class away from the big screen. (10)

It was until films like La Mujer de Benjamín (Benjamin’s Women, Carlos Carrera, 991) and Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate, Alfonso Arau, 1992) were screened that audiences returned to enjoy a Mexican film inside a theatre. This period was coined the “New Mexican Cinema” and Sólo con tu pareja’s delayed release in 1993 (the film was banned by the Mexican Film Institute) coincided with the re-birth of the film industry.

The film was partly produced by the IMCINE (Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía). Cuarón recalls the experience:

We put up money, the story, the production, we made connections to get some money for visual advertising […] and then, from the very beginning, I had an argument with the people at the IMCINE, because they treated me under the paternalist discourse of “we are giving you the opportunity”. I told them very clearly: “We are partners, you are not giving me the opportunity, your job is to support Mexican cinema and you are not a patron.” I wanted to commercialize the movie in Mexico and around the world, but one clerk from IMCINE told me that I was foolish and arrogant, since Mexican cinema didn’t interested anybody outside the country. We had many fights. […] They told me that if I’ll continue to be problematic, it was going to be very difficult for me to find the chance to direct another movie in Mexico.

I travelled to the Toronto Festival to premiered Sólo con tu pareja, thinking that I wouldn’t direct another feature in Mexico and that I had to do something else (like documentaries and television spots). But the people from Hollywood saw Sólo con tu pareja and they offered me a job. (11)

Cuarón’s first feature represents the first and only time that he has been supported by the Mexican State in any sense. He was partially supported, yet he didn’t completely accept the conditions imposed by the Institute. Instead, he took the film out of the country and showed it to a large audience. He was confident that the film could be marketed and considered a work of art. As a result, the late Sydney Pollack offered him the chance to direct in Hollywood.

For the film to succeed was not a difficult task: it was fresh, a contemporary film that appealed to Mexicans fed up with poor-quality films. Sólo con tu pareja is a screwball comedy soaked with Ernst Lubitsch influences. It deploys an astonishing cinematography depicting green atmospheres, blatantly treating the AIDS pandemic and casting new faces. The film was a critique of the Mexican society written in a dialect – the chilango – the Mexican-Spanish that people from Mexico City use in order to communicate. Set in a cosmopolitan and vibrant Mexico City, the geographer was describing known soil. The city became a character of the film and was showed far away from stereotypes. Los Olvidados (Buñuel, 1950) was being overcome by the new generation of Mexicans directors. The difference between him and former directors was that Cuarón analyzed the map with different (literally) lenses without forgetting that an audience was tired and bored of repetition.

In an interview conducted for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film, Cuarón states that he wanted to render the film with a different style in order to portrait a new reality. Cuarón breaks away from archetypes inherited from soap operas, the cultural product most consumed by Mexicans, since its introduction on the television networks in the 1960s. Although the film can be seen today with some naïveté, it entertains a public with a universal story: Tomás (Daniel Giménez Cacho) is a modern Don Juan who is jumping from one bed to the next one, until he finds love in the form of an air stewardess. In the course of his actions, he will have to face fatal news: he’s been detected with the HIV virus.

After the success in Toronto, Cuarón moved to New York. There are two ways to see the departure. The first is to say that the exile was a consciously taken action in order to prevent him to face more troubles if he insisted on staying and making more films in Mexico. Or, as Paul Julian Smith puts it very deftly: “shooting in exile” (12). The second is to say that the exile symbolizes the birth of a new Mexican director: telling universal and identifiable stories set in modern Mexico. Telling local stories, being supported by the state and doing propaganda for the government didn’t apply to him anymore. Cuarón realized that if he wanted to become a full-time director he had to move to Hollywood.

The Mexican in Hollywood

I want to do films elsewhere and everywhere.

– Alfonso Cuarón (13)

Hollywood is seen by many as the place where a career begins or ends. Some directors immigrate to Hollywood to pursue a career that in their own countries is unthinkable, due to censorship, limited budgets or because there is no industry at all. It was the case for Cuarón.

I ended up in Hollywood because I didn’t have any choice. […] I knew that if I were going to go back […] the ways Iknew of doing films in Mexico would have to change. Most films had a big percentage in terms of input from the government; my first film had 40 per cent. (14)

A Little Princess

However, success was not immediate and, as is the case with every other foreign director with aspirations, he had to wait for his turn. In 1993, he directed a film noir television episode for the Fallen Angels series (executive produced by Sydney Pollack). Once he proved he could master a different genre, Hollywood opened its doors. He was offered several projects until he found the one he really liked with Warner Brothers Pictures: A Little Princess (1995). (15)

From 1992 till 2000, Cuarón worked in Hollywood. He directed A Little Princess (1995) and Great Expectations (1998). On his behalf, we could say that both are still within his “green” period that began with his opera prima. Both films contained saturated greens that gave the spectator the lure of entering into a magical and timeless atmosphere. Both are the result of book adaptations.

A Little Princess tells a sad story with a happy ending. It is a remake of the Shirley Temple’s 1939 classic, based on a Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book. It was a peculiar election for the geographer in new lands, since the main audience would be children. However, Cuarón really took advantage of having Lubezki by his side. For his effort, the photographer earned a nomination for Achievement in Cinematography at the annual Academy Awards in 1995, and the film was nominated for Art Direction-Set Decoration as well.

The relative successful début in Hollywood translated into more work. He was then offered Great Expectations (1998). Cuarón agreed to direct it only if Francesco Clemente, the Italian painter, would do the paintings depicted in the film, since he was not interested in the project. When Clemente accepted, the experience became a devastating one. Although the cast included renowned actors (Robert De Niro, Anne Bancroft, Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow), the film flopped at the box-office and the critics weren’t sympathetic. Cuarón blamed the screenwriter and the producers for not being provided with a proper screenplay. In order to counterbalance the flaws of the text, he searched along with Lubezki to construct a beautiful visual design to enhance the story. The result is what David Bordwell would call “intensified continuity” (16). Stuffed with dollies, close-ups, fast cutting and a magnificent handling of the light, the film is consistent in demonstrating that the visual aspect must dominate the narrative. (17) The scene in the subway when Finn arrives to New York is a great example. The visual design is not perfect but beautiful. The photography overshadows the story, and not even the paintings and drawings made by Clemente can help the story to find an audience. Essentially, the film lacks narrative.

What happened? The geographer couldn’t describe anymore the landscape? Or maybe it was the compass that wasn’t working well. The shift from Spanish to English didn’t look so dreadful the first time. Didn’t the maps match the taste of the geographer? The moral tale of Great Expectations could be applied to Cuarón himself: the emergent artist discovered in an exotic land moves to Hollywood in order to pursue an artistic career. Sydney Pollack is the godfather that Pip/Finn has, but, in the end, the artist reveals himself as a hoax. Who was he trying to fool?

The difference is that he didn’t write the screenplays. His was the final touch, but not the original input. Or, in other words: you get the money but not the final cut. He was being the object of another type of censorship: directors in Hollywood are allowed to dream, but in the end it is the studio who decides when and for how long the director can dream.

I remember Alfonso being revered as a visionary when A Little Princess came out and maligned as a hack when Great Expectations emerged […] People seem to think that you are making a definitive last statement with every movie. (18)

Nevertheless, the career of Cuarón was progressing. He was offered different stories, but he felt, after two incursions in enemy’s territory, that he was losing the creativity that pushed him to direct his first film. (19)

In conclusion, Hollywood gave Cuarón the opportunity to show his work around the world, thanks to the powerful network and influence it maintains, proving that the talent, vision and creativity of artists from Third World countries can also be “profitable”. But maybe it was time to consider the roots. Maybe the geographer had to return to the origin, in order to gain originality. Filming without a passport meant he was being offered screenplays, but it was time to write one again.

The Mexican back in Mexico

Y tu mamá también

I never really intended to go to Hollywood. For me it is just part of a journey.

– Alfonso Cuarón (20)

In 2000, Alfonso Cuarón was reunited with his brother to write a universal story within a Mexican context. Y tu mamá también (And Your Mother Too, 2001) tells the story of two adolescents and the journey they take to a paradisiacal beach, joined by a married, attractive and mature woman. During the trip, she will show them that life is more than sex, drugs and techno-pop, using the same elements. The characters represent the contrasts of the Mexican society (the rich, the poor and the foreigner). The film is the first outside his green period.

The film premiered in Mexico and then was invited to the Venice Film Festival, earning two awards. It was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Original Screenplay) and won several prizes around the world. In other words, Cuarón created his first masterpiece. For the first time, two films made in Spanish – the other being Almodóvar’s Hable con ella (Talk to Her, 2002) – were being considered not only as foreign films but merely films (economically successful films) within the usual nominations for the Academy Awards. Cuarón became the new rising star in the world cinema map. He co-wrote and directed a film that released an international author that crossed borders and languages without repercussions. When Paul Schrader filmed with Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) in Japan, his career almost collapsed.

Cuarón achieved success because he went back to Mexico and produced a film that wasn’t a rural landscape or an urban melodrama (old-fashioned, well-worn and bleak stories). Instead, he created three city stereotypes characters and put them in a rural area. He created a film that overflowed sex, drugs and the search for identity, foregrounded against a real Mexican landscape without any of the so famous clouds á la Figueroa. The dialogues were frantic and told by a threesome of city fugitives eager to arrive to an imagined beach. A well-directed and -marketed road-movie, with all the elements that make a movie successful. Of course, nudity and coarse language were part of the deal, but, in the end, audiences identify themselves with the characters: Mexicans living in Mexico in the globalized 21st century. The soundtrack was a reflection of that: an array of Mexican and international singers. Not only was Mexico put in the map but, also, it was shown as it is without filters or make-up.

Cuarón used long static shots and obliged his actors to stage inside the frame, not forgetting that it is the audience who pays for the entrance ticket. He had found a style that would be explored in his further films. “Intensified continuity” was left behind and, in consequence, his cinematographer had to sacrifice his abilities in order to render a realistic palette to portrait “people that we know” (21). And it worked. “Released in Mexico by the Fox, Y tu mamá también grossed over $9.5 million dollars. In the UK […] the film took £1.6 million, and in the US […] $13.6 million.” (22) The film was a success and connected with a worldwide emerging audience, after Amores perros (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000); the film that proved Mexican stories could also be original and universal. “I have to say I think Amores Perros and Y tu mamá también are the first films that really show contemporary Mexico.” (23)

But not everybody liked the film:

Mine was one of the few negative reviews it got. […] I think […] that he [Alfonso] is very superficial. He is perfect for Hollywood. I thought the narration was a ploy to imbue the film with a false depth. (24)

However, the worst enemy was the Mexican government.

In the beginning, the government alleged that the film should be rated ‘R’ (in Mexico, the rating system is controlled by the Department of State) because the film depicted Mexican adolescents using drugs without consequences. (25) The accusation gave Cuarón the means to convince world cinema that he was a victim of censorship. He was being banned in his own country. As a result, his decision to film outside Mexico, a place where filmmakers are “punished”, is justified. Even The New York Times fell in the trap:

When the Mexican government ignored the filmmaker’s request for the legal definitions behind its ratings, Mr. Cuarón discovered there weren’t any, just a bureaucrat who had been deciding what films would be shown and to whom for 20 years. And so he sued, on constitutional grounds (26)

The publicity made it one of the most seen films in Mexico. Everybody talked about it and went to see it. Parents discovered their children through the eyes of Cuarón.

It’s pandered. That’s why Alfonso and Carlos were so outraged that the film got a restricted rating. It was publicity ploy to claim that they had been censored. In Mexico anyone can get into the cinema once they have paid for their ticket. There’s no real control. (27)

Y tu mamá también wasproduced by an independent businessman, Jorge Vergara. His decision to leave the Cuarón brothers all the decisions behind the artistic output of the film was fortunate. As any other business, the “bad” publicity and the prizes in Venice secured the film’s entrance to the world cinema heaven. However, in Mexico the film was not considered to represent the country in the Academy Award ceremony. In the end, Alfonso and his brother Carlos earned a nomination in a surprisingly decision, when the film was considered by the Academy as not a foreign film.

The director as an author

I think that you can be universal and still be a good Mexican.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

– Alfonso Cuarón (28)

If a “film” is the product signed by an author, then “cinema” represents an industry and is constituted by a group of different directors that make films (e.g., Hollywood, Bollywood). The film is the body of work that æsthetically defines a signature, whereas cinema is what critics and historians call “trends” or “waves” that culturally mark national industries.

A director like Cuarón can work within both contraires and be claimed by either side as one of them. He’s an author because he can rework the sci-fi genre as in Children of Men (2006), a film made in England with English technicians and American capital, but manufactured by Mexican hands. At the same time, he can be hired and direct one of the Harry Potter franchise films and still be considered a gifted storyteller:

This is surely the most interesting of the three Potter movies, in part because it is the first one that actually looks and feels like a movie, rather than a staged reading with special effects. (29)

Seen from a commercial perspective, the Cuarón “industry” has engrossed $335.4 million of dollars with only six films, making an average of $55.9 per film. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) being, of course, the most successful one. (30)

Only in a constantly changing industry like Hollywood this could be possible. A trend is discovered: talent is overflowing in Third World countries, where a director can transform a coming-of-age road movie into a globally successful product. The only thing he needs is support and money, essential elements difficult to obtain in his country. But in order to happen, he must first live and survive Hollywood.

Cuarón has demonstrated that he can handle controversial themes as well as superficial. He is comfortable producing films such as El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006) or The Assassination of Richard Nixon (Niels Mueller, 2004), being completely opposites. Even more, he directs documentaries like The Possibility of Hope (2007) and projects for the sake of others, such as The Shock Doctrine (2007) (31), taking advantages of the Children of Men success.

After Y tu mama también and Harry Potter, Cuarón was able to “return” to more human themes and directed a series of films that can easily form a trilogy, where mankind faces hope as an almost unreachable state. This trilogy (Children of Men, The Possibility of Hope and The Shock Doctrine) gives Cuarón the opportunity to prove that he’s a consumed director by authoring himself the screenplays. In other words, his style is emerging: the use of single long-shots sequences in order to transmit suspense or continuity, depending on the context of the scene; exploring dark themes and the nature human beings in desperate situations. His tastes are eclectic and so his films. However, Cuarón still challenges the concept of authorship. His career forces us to ask the question, “Where is the author?”, rather than, “What is an author?”

Children of Men

Either one way or the other, one thing we can learn from this “zigzagging” is that the director moves from one country to another without distinction. From an industry to another one without a complex of inferiority or apprehension, filming stories like the geographer describes the landscape. The author is where the director is doing the film, since world cinema is not a term that designates a “wave” but rather the whole ocean. (32) Filming without a passport (or shooting in exile) is a constant in Hollywood. Nevertheless, globalization has made it a priority for many directors. They film what they are offered and there are a variety of themes to explore. In the meantime, they may find a project that is very near to their roots and concerns. We should not see the career of Cuarón only as a zigzagging. On the contrary, filming without a passport has become a “trend” in filmmaking these days, far away from the obscure director tradition that rejected big budgets, in order to not compromise his o her morality or anonymity. The same happens with the geographer, the need to tell a story is more powerful than any difficult border to cross. The passport represents the possibility to tell a story in distinct locations with different budgets and in different languages.

The fact that every story must be told differently has been very well understood by Cuarón. Working in different industries implies that the director must adapt the story to the context in which he or she is working.

I think my next movie is going to be a small movie. I hope so. I say “hope” because something I’ve learned is that you don’t necessarily do the films you want to do in the moment. I was going to do Children of Men right after Y tu mamá también and that didn’t happen and that was a good thing. But at this point I’m hoping to do a small film in Mexico. I’ve been missing Mexico. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Mexico. I’m so in touch with it and I think I need to reconnect with my own sense of being. (33)


  1. Elisabeth, Eaves, “Tastemakers: Film Directors”, Forbes, 14 March 2007, http://www.forbes.com/2007/03/13/tastemaker-director-film-forbeslife-cx_ee_0314film.html
  2. Thomas Elsaesser, European Cinema. Face to face with Hollywood (Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2005).
  3. A. O., Scott, “A Bedroom Farce With Mortality Hiding in the Closet”, The New York Times, 20 September 2006, http://movies.nytimes.com/2006/09/20/movies/20solo.html?scp=11&sq=&st=nyt
  4. Jason Wood, The Faber Book of Mexican Cinema (London, Faber & Faber, 2006), p. 1.
  5. Carlos Gómez Valero, “Una propuesta indecorosa. Los renglones torcidos del gobierno buscan diluir Imcine.” Etcétera, December, 2003, http://www.etcetera.com.mx/pag46ne38.asp. In Spanish in the original version; English translation made by the author.
  6. José Antonio Fernández, “Entrevista con Alfonso Cuarón. ‘Filmé Y tu mamá también porque quería tomar más riesgos, buscaba más adrenalina’”, Telemundo, 12 September 2001, http://www.canal100.com.mx/telemundo/entrevistas/?id_nota=414.
  7. Gómez Valero.
  8. Wood, p. 4.
  9. Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz, “Sex, Class, and Mexico in Alfonso Cuarón’s Y tu mamá también”, Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies, 34.1 (2004), pp. 39-48.
  10. Perla Ciuk, “Hollywood Stakes Out a New Free-Trade Zone”, The New York Times, 20 February 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/20/movies/20ciuk.html?scp=13&sq=&st=nt
  11. Fernández.
  12. Paul Julian Smith, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, Film Quarterly, Summer 2007, p. 4.
  13. Wood, p. 97.
  14. Ibid, p. 41.
  15. Fernández.
  16. David Bordwell, “Intensified Continuity. Visual Style in Contemporary American Film”, Film Quarterly, Spring 2002, p. 16-28.
  17. Janet Maslin, “Tale of Two Stories, This One With a Ms”, The New York Times, 30 January 1998, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E7DB143AF933A05752C0A96E958260&scp=26&sq=&st=nyt
  18. Wood, p. 97.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid, p. 99.
  22. Ibid, p. 103.
  23. A. G. Basoli, “Sexual Awakenings and Stark Social Realities: An Interview with Alfonso Cuarón”, Cineaste, 27.3 (2002), p. 26.
  24. Wood, p. 105.
  25. Karen Durbin, “Film; Comedy of a Sexual Provocateur”, The New York Times, 17 March 2002, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02E1DD1539F934A25750C0A9649C8B63&scp=21&sq=&st=nyt
  26. Ibid.
  27. Wood, p. 108.
  28. Ibid, p. 172.
  29. A. O. Scott, “An Adolescent Wizard Meets A Grown-Up Moviemaker”, The New York Times, 3 June 2004, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=980DE2D81431F930A35755C0A9629C8B63&scp=16&sq=&st=nyt
  30. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/people/?view=Director&p=.htm
  31. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kieyjfZDUIc
  32. Wood, p. 1.
  33. Guerrasio.



Sólo con tu pareja (1991)

A Little Princess (1995)

Great Expectations (1998)

Y tu mamá también (2001)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Children of Men (2006)

Gravity (2013)

Roma (2018)


Cuarteto para el fin del tiempo (1983)

Vengeance is mine (1983)

Who’s he anyway (1983)

Paris, je t’aime (“Parc Monceau” segment, 2006)

The Possibility of Hope (2007)

The Shock Doctrine (2007)


Hora Marcada (6 episodes, 1988-1990)

Fallen Angels (1 episode, 1993)

Believe (1 Episode, 2014)

Select Bibliography

Perla Ciuk, Diccionario de directores del cine mexicano (Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes y Cineteca Nacional, 2000).

Kevin Conroy Scott, Screenwriters’ Masterclass: screenwriters talk about their greatest movies.

Carlos Cuarón, Sólo con tu pareja (Mexico City: El Milagro-IMCINE, 1992).

Carlos Cuarón y Alfonso Cuarón, Y tu mamá también (Mexico City: Trilce Ediciones, 2001).

Articles in Senses of Cinema

Focalisation Realism and Narrative Asymmetry in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men by Ben Ogrodnik

“There is Nothing to Carry Sound”: Defamiliarisation and Reported Realism in Gravity by Stuart Bender

Web Resources

Article by Paul Julian Smith, on Y tu mama también and the resurgence of Mexican cinema, in Sight & Sound, April 2002

Interview with Alfonso Cuarón in Sight & Sound, April 2002


About The Author

José Zarandona, a Multimedia Designer at the National Gallery of Victoria, is currently finishing his M.A. in Film Studies at the University of Melbourne.

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