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Hegemony and mediations in melodrama of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema

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Version 1 2021-11-15, 12:06
posted on 2023-09-26, 23:55 authored by Evans, Dave

The influence of the mass media is a contentious issue, especially in regards to the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema in the mid-twentieth century. These melodramatic films have often been viewed by critics as instruments of hegemony. However, melodrama contains an inherent ambivalence, as it not only has a potential for imparting dominant messages but also offers a platform from which to defy and exceed the restraining boundaries imposed by dominant ideologies. An examination of a number of important Golden Age films, especially focussing on their contradictory tensions and their portrayals of modernity, illustrates this. The Nosotros los pobres series serves as an example of how melodramatic elements are incorporated into popular Mexican films and how melodrama could be used as an ideological tool to encourage the state’s goals. Similarly, the maternal melodrama Cuando los hijos se van uses the family to represent the processes of conflict and negotiation that Mexicans experienced as a result of modernization. Consistent with the reactionary nature of melodrama and its simultaneous suggestive potential, the film combines a Catholic worldview with an underlying allegory of moving forward. The issue of progress is also at the centre of a number of films starring iconic actor Pedro Infante, which offer an avenue for exploring what modernisation might mean for male identity in Mexico. His films show a masculinity in transition and how lower-class men could cope with this change. Likewise, the depiction of women in Golden Age film overall supports the stabilising goals of the 1940s Revolutionary government, while also providing some transgressive figures. Therefore, these films helped the Mexican audience process the sudden modernization of the post-Revolutionary period, which was in the state’s best interest; however, the masses were also able to reconfigure the messages of these films and find their own sense of meaning in them.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



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Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Languages and Cultures


Arnedo-Gómez, Miguel; Miranda, Carolina