|Cinergía Movie File:
Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate)
Directed by Alfonso Arau, 1992
Like Water for Chocolate
Created by Brandy Navurskis
Scroll down or Click on any section to jump ahead:
Section 1: Pre-screening
Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism
Section 3: Media analysis
Section 1: Pre-screening
Note: Given the transitory nature of internet resources we suggest conducting a search to help answer the pre-screening questions. Only a few links are included below.
In English by Tereza Jandura This site is incredible and offers great detailed information about the women in the Mexican Revolution. It goes in to great detail about Dolores Jimenez y Muro. The site explains that the brave women in the revolution helped out a lot. There are also pictures of the women soldiers. This site will help the viewer understand the women in the film.
In English: by Diane
Goetze. This site is written mainly about the women’s roles in the Mexican
Revolution. It provides information about the women in the Mexican revolution
and women’s roles in the Zapista movement. This will help provide the viewer
for background on women to compare with the film.
In English: This site offers maps that one can look at in order to visualize the wars that took place during the Mexican Revolution. Each map is under a different persons regime. For example there is one for Dia, Madero and Carranza. Each map is individual and can help one have a better understanding of the time period.
Mexico from Empire to
In English and
Spanish: This site is offered in both English and Spanish. It is both
informational and movie like. If one clicks on the animated introduction one can
see images from the time period of the Mexican revolution. This site provides
information in order to educate one on the Mexican Revolution and those that
were involved in the revolution. The use of pictures is very important to the
site and it relates well with the film.
What was the United States reaction to the immigration laws?
How did the historical museum start and whose idea was it to build this
museum about the Mexican revolution?
What type of attire did the women soldiers wear?
Give a detailed explanation of the life of Dolores Jimenez y Muro. When
was she born? What was her significance in history?
What was the role of women
in the Mexican Revolution? Would their lives be of desire to you? Why or why
In what year does Madero enter Mexico City?
How does the regime of Diaz differ from the regime of Madero?
How would you prepare a Hot Mexican Dip?
What do some of the pictures suggest to Mexican revolutionaries?
What were the roles of Díaz
y Pancho Villa in the Mexican revolution?
2: Film Comprehension and Criticism
Where does the film take place?
What historical event took place within this
Who were the main characters in the film?
Why wasn’t Tita allowed to marry Pedro?
Who did Pedro marry instead of Tita?
What were Pedro’s motives for marrying
someone other than Tita?
What is the main theme of the film?
Which sister of Tita’s ran away from home
with another man?
Who portrays the victim in this film?
How does the Doctor explain love? What does he
compare it to?
Who is forced to prepare the food for
How many children does Rosaura have with Pedro?
Do Pedro and Tita finally unite in the end of
14) How does the film end? Is the ending relevant to the whole film? Why or why not?
The following quotes come from Barbara A. Tenenbaum “Why didn’t Tita Marry the Doctor, or Mexican History in Like Water for Chocolate” in Donald F. Stevens ed. Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies. Wilmington, Delaware: SR Books, 1997. pp. 157-172.
“ Nowhere does the movie inform the audience what “ like water for chocolate” means. According to the book, Tita was “ literally like water for chocolate” she was on the verge of boiling over… She felt her head about to burst, like a kernel of popcorn” (158).
“ In the book version, Gertrudis is Elena’s eldest daughter and was fathered by the mulatto José Treviño before Elena’s family married her off to Juan de la Garza, the father of Rosaura and Tita, who did not know she was already pregnant by someone else” (162-163).
The movie tends to gloss over Gertrudis’s becoming a whore, but the book
explains that the dish prepared by Tita had so inflamed her that no one man
could satisfy her lust, and she went to the brothel until she was ‘healed,’
so to speak” (167).
The book however leaves no doubts as to the rightness of Tita’s choices. In
the United States, there are many kinds of love, and marriage based solely on
passion is seen as quite a risky enterprise. In Mexico, however love is defined
by passion; whether it lasts an hour or a lifetime is of little consequence”
Were there aspects of the
film that were confusing? Did the film answer questions about the Mexican
revolution or was there a lot of information missing?
How were the women portrayed
in the film? Is this how they were portrayed during the Mexican revolution?
In what ways has the film
helped you to better understand the Mexican revolution? In what ways has it
helped you understand how people lived during that time?
Within Mexican culture it is
natural for the children to live with the parents until they are married. Do you
think the film properly demonstrates this aspect of Mexican culture?
Do you think there is a
reason that the book and the movie are different?
Does American culture have
an influence on the way the movie was portrayed?
Are the men properly
portrayed in the film as being part of the Mexican revolution?
Does the film accurately
display the roles of both genders during the Mexican revolution or does it
stereotype both genders?
Who is the intended
Do you think if the movie were geared toward a different type of
audience, then the film would be demonstrated in a different way?
3: Media analysis
This still is very significant because it shows Pedro kneeling down before Tita. A few seconds earlier, Pedro has just seen underneath Tita’s dress, revealing her undergarments. This scene is important to the film because the love that Tita and Pedro share cannot continue because Tita is the youngest daughter. As the youngest, she is not able to marry but has to take care of her mother. This scene takes place after Tita finds out that Pedro is marrying her older sister, Rosaura. Tita feels that Pedro has lied to her about his love for her and does not want to listen to what he has to say.
is important to focus on the high angle shot of the camera. It captures Pedro
looking up at Tita. This represents how Pedro feels non-deserving of her love.
He knows that marrying Rosaura wasn’t the right thing to do, but he did it to
be close to Tita. There is symbolism in his eyes. His eyes are looking up at her
in a longing way. He knows that he cannot have her but he wants her. Lastly, the
darkness that fills this image represents the sad condition of the two people
because they cannot be together.
This still is very important to the film because it represents the power that Mama Elena has over Gertrudis. This is an image of Gertrudis’s birth certificate being burned. Earlier in the film Gertrudis ran away with a Villista soldier. Mama Elena also found out from Father Ignacio that Gertrudis was working in a brothel near the border. Mama Elena was outraged and felt betrayed and disrespected. Therefore, she decided to burn all of Gertrudis’s photos and her birth certificate.
still represents the shame that Gertrudis brought upon her mother. This image is
close to the camera to emphasize the importance of this scene. The fire
represents the power and negative effects that Mama Elena has over her children.
The actual burning of the birth certificate establishes Mama Elenas strength to
ruin her children’s lives if they ever were to betray or disrespect her. Fire is a recurring symbol in the movie and here it
represents passion and destruction.
scene is very significant to the film because it is an example how Tita tries to
forget about the pain her mother is causing her. Tita tries to forget about her
pain through her cooking, which is a constant theme in the film. In this still
Tita is preparing a mole. She is thinking about Pedro and a few seconds later he
still is very important because it takes place in the kitchen. The kitchen
represents the outlet that Tita uses to escape her mother. It is her sanctuary
that eliminates all the madness and chaos that surrounds her. The tools that are
in the kitchen represent ways in which she can perfect her recipes and therefore
cook in order to forget about her problems.
The sensual position of Tita also reflects the relationship between
sensuality and food in the film.
Spirit of Mama Elena
This still is very
important to the film because Mama Elena appears to Tita as a spirit. She is
still watching over Tita and wants to control her every action with Pedro. In
this scene Mama Elena tells Tita not to see Pedro anymore and puts a curse on
Tita’s unborn baby and Tita. It is important to understand that Mama Elena is
not giving up; she is still trying to control Tita even though she has died.
The two stills are
close up to signify the importance of Mama Elena in this scene. The bars on the
windows represent how it is difficult for Mama Elena to control Tita anymore,
even though she is trying to and they represent the trapped and caged life Tita
lives in because of her mother. However, it is important to realize the
difference between these two stills. In the first still Mama Elena has her lips
open, eyebrows raised and her teeth clenched. The look Mama Elena displays is
anger. She is very upset that Tita is still seeing Pedro. In the second still
Mama Elena has her mouth closed and a straight look. This represents the
disappointment and sadness she feels towards Tita. Mama Elena feels that Tita
disrespected her because she did not follow her orders.
scene takes place at the end of the film. A few seconds earlier Pedro and Tita
were intimate and were finally able to share there love without it being
forbidden. It has taken them twenty-two years to get to this point. In the
middle of their love scene Pedro dies. Tita then makes herself spontaneously
combust by eating matches. These stills are important because they relate back
to what the Doctor said about love and matches in the middle of the film. He
states, “If one intense emotion
were to light the matches all at once there would be a divine radiance.” This
means that Tita was finally able to experience all her emotions for Pedro and
when he died she could no longer be without him. Therefore, she sparks her
emotions with the matches and then kills herself.
The fire symbolizes
passion and destruction and suggests that the passion between Pedro and Tita was
all consuming, just like the flames of the fire.
Media Literacy Questions:
Who is the intended audience for this film?
What types of morals or values were expressed
in this film? Are theses the type of morals one would find in an average Mexican
What is the importance of the use of fire in
the film? Think back to what the Doctor said about love and matches.
How are women represented in the film? Is this
how women are represented in Mexico? Is this representation of women sexist?
What significance do tears hold in the film?
Are they relevant to the film’s central theme?
6. Is the use of spirits important to the film? (think about the importance of death and spirits in Mexican culture)
What was the director’s intended purpose of
The author of the book the movie is based on,
Laura Esquivel, also wrote the screenplay.
Do you think that makes the differences between the book and the movie
less of a problem?
Is there a lot of information displayed about
the Mexican revolution? Why or why not?
Why did the director choose to include magical
realism in the film? ( ex. Curses, spirits, death)
11. Is the concept of death expressed the way Mexican culture view it? Is it properly represented in the film?
12. Does the use of music add drama to each sentimental scene? If so, what is this type of expression called
Who is the character that represents evil in
the film? Is there more than one?
How does the use of cinematography affect the
film? Does it make the film display melodrama or seriousness or even a comedic
Why do you think the director used fire in the
very last scene of the film? Does it represent destruction or forbidden love or
something else? Does the last scene have a hidden meaning?
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Created on 4/10/01
Last updated on 07/26/2007