Outdated yet still inspiring

March 1, 2016

 

“Please, Don’t Bury Me Alive!” was released in 1976 by Chicano director Efraín Gutiérrez. This indie film is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.


“Please, Don’t Bury Me Alive!” holds great historical significance to the Chicano culture as it is the first Chicano feature film ever made. 


The film takes place in west San Antonio, Texas in the late 1970’s, disco era, during the time of the Chicano Movement. 


The film captures bicultural lifestyles of Chicano life in the time of the movie setting and was filmed in two languages; English and Spanish with subtitles. 


The film follows the story of a young man Alejandro Hernández, played by the director himself, who understands the struggle of being a Chicano all too well and is coping with his brother’s death that occurred in the Vietnam War. 


Alejandro struggles to obtain money in illegal ways and justifies himself by feeling he is getting what he deserves from white people and refuses to steal from his own people.

 

Alejandro soon faces the consequences of his lifestyle choices and his family must deal with it as well.


This film is not very positive and does not have a happy ending.

 

The lack of a joyful closing captures the real life in the community which faced Chicanos.

 

The film could use revision because it is very dated and it was hard to ignore editing flaws.

 

At several points the sound is muffled and the subtitles are appreciated to clarify what is being said when the characters speak Spanish.

 

It was great to see how people dressed and reacted to culture during the late 1970’s.


A highly notable scene is the montage in which Alejandro is speaking on behalf of Chicanos; “How the hell am I going to be Chicano and compete in an anglo world…we are the bus boys of your meals, but cannot see the menu… we are the builders of cities, but cannot consult with the architect.” 


This quote sums up the characters’ lives and the mentality that others held of them.


“Please, Don’t Bury Me Alive!” deserves the celebration it has received and then some. 


Despite being a dated film, it's good enough to rate it 3 out 5 stars.

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