Set in the 1930s, Eisenstein in Guanajuato follows the life-changing trek of Soviet director and film theorist Sergei Eisenstein (Elmer Bäck) to Mexico. Travelling to the Central Mexican state of Guanajuato for ten days, the revolutionary Russian artist planned on shooting a brand new film in 1931. A revered pioneer of cinema montage, Eisenstein soon became distracted by peculiar occurrences – there was remarkably stormy weather on the set location, as well as a startling letter from Stalin himself, condemning the filmmaker as a deserter. Moreover, Sergei was caught up in a gay romantic affair. As a result, his project was never completed and the man was forced to leave the country somewhat irked and disappointed.
During his sojourn to Mexico, Eisenstein does not advance much in terms of his filmmaking. However, as his role as a creator and artist takes a backseat, his identity becomes unveiled and he embarks on a thrilling journey of self-discovery. Although his production of ¡Que viva México! is stunted, his creative genius and candid way of being shine through during his stay. His close relationship with Palomino Cañedo (Luis Alberti) teaches him about much more than his own sexuality. It not only allows him to embrace his queer identity, but also forces him into a whirlpool of intimacy he is not yet prepared for.
“Eisenstein is embodied by the fabulous Elmer Bäck, who gallops at the role in the way Liberace might have plunged into a haberdashers.”
— Eye For Film
“The eccentric London filmmaker has once again concocted a colourful, boisterous and imaginative film.”
— Dirty Movies
“Finnish actor Bäck, with hair to rival Art Garfunkel, is astonishingly energised and manic in the lead turn.”
Did You Know?
Peter Greenaway describes that the most difficult part of the film’s production was casting the right person to play Eisenstein. The director travelled to Moscow, Saint Petersburg, several European countries and even America to find the right fit for the role. Feeling defeated and exhausted, he finally saw Elmer Bäck’s performance on an unknown Finnish TV series – by accident.
Most of what is presented on screen has happened in Eisenstein’s personal life. The director only allowed for small tweaks to be made – for instance, the letters between Sergei and his secretary in Moscow were transformed into telephone conversations. Much of the movie’s dialogue (i. e. “I had to come to Mexico to go to Heaven”) is directly taken from Eisenstein’s own speech or quotes. Review our Gay Themed Films Here