Capturing the Bronze Power on the Silver Screen: An Epic Journey in Twenty Minutes

Yay I. C.

STUDIES IN LATIN AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE, vol.30, pp.18-37, 2012 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 30
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.18-37
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


This essay is an attempt to draw a broad sketch of El Movimiento Chicano, or "The Chicano Movement" in the United States (ca. 1965-1975) through an analysis of Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales's poem "I am Joaquin" (1967) and its adaptation by Luis Miguel Valdez on the silver screen. As an outlet of Chicanos' long-standing rancor at their subaltern status in political, economic, and social spheres in an Anglo-American dominated society, the political activism of El Movimiento prompted a cultural-nationalist stance which organized itself around the theme of a return to cultural origins, specifically to the indigenous origins of the Aztec civilization via the concept of mestizaje, or hybridity, and the rhetoric of Aztlan-the primordial homeland of the Aztecs that is assumed to be located somewhere in the vicinity of the vast region that Mexico ceded to the United States in 1848. The aim of the present essay is to examine and discuss how the social interpretation and the thematic layers of the poem are represented and modified in Valdez's 16mm motion picture, which is assumedly the first film produced by, about, and for Chicanos. In retrospective terms, the present study concludes with the weaknesses and the strengths of the Chicano Movement as they are reinforced and dramatized by the two respective productions in their specific formulation of the Chicano sociohistorical perspective.