The name Frida brings to mind a Mexican woman with bushy eyebrows, a personal trait that she herself emphasized in all her self paintings and an exceptional woman with a hard life and better yet an artist of great originality. It also brings to mind paintings of women with weird features. Like intestines and stretchers and other weird embodiments. She experienced and dealt with many physical problems all her life, but despite it, she was a very beautiful woman.
Frida, a story of a very unique woman who, in her uniqueness has had experiences which are tragic and it is actually amazing how she was able to survive each and every trauma in her life. Frida and her friend were involved in an accident when she was very young. She had severe injuries that left her bed ridden and in a cast for months.
At the time that she was hospitalized, her outlet has been painting. It is actually hard or tricky to imagine why she painted a picture of herself instead, and one would wonder why. One possible reason could be the idea that she wanted to communicate with other people what she sees in herself. Not physically but something deeper than that.
Her first self-portrait began on her hospital bed when her mother gave her painting materials that she can work on even on her lap. She knows her in arts for she has always watched Diego when she was very young, admiring him, even though she had never actually done it on her own. The movie showed Salma Hayek holding a mirror as she tried to paint herself, creating a pathetic picture of a woman who tries to project a strong persona when inside is a simmering pain.
Her way of communicating whatever she had been through, her experiences, experimentalism, her bisexuality and even her relationship with Diego Rivera were through her paintings, the stories told. According to the book and even from the movie, Frida Kahlo has had thirty-two operations over the course of her life, which makes one think how she was able to survive each and every single one of them alive, a fighter through and through.
Frida was a very carefree person, with a strong sense of humor that can be sometimes dry but never the less, unwavering. She is so unconventional in more ways than one, but still a woman admirable in a lot of ways. It is not only because of the time in which she lived but also her personality that stood out. She never did what people expected of her nor lived by the rules of the society in which she belonged to, making all the more hard for her.
In the movie, it showed a teenager version of Frida caught with the librarian in a rather compromising situation, sexually, of course. It was a shock for she was still too young. She was kicked out of school and was never allowed to return. When she was questioned for her acts, all she said was that it is who she is.
She never said sorry for anything she did, regardless of how wrong people believe her to be. She never painted to please people, nor tried to change her ways to fit in. It never mattered to her if no one buys her works, for she just kept her own style and approach.
She accepted every wrong in her life and every bad card fate dealt her, eventually turning them in to something better. Her works were statements. She talks to people how she really feels. Her art as blunt and direct as she truly is. She makes the most out of life, no matter how bad the initial deal is. Like in the unfaithfulness of her husband, instead of cowering and wilting away, she found her own freedom.
Having said these, there would still be a question that would surpass the awe in the kind of woman that Frida was, how is it that she was just so different at that time considering the fact in the timeframe where she had lived, society is different. If one would analyze her actions, you could just wonder at the motives behind each and every decision she makes.
Her marriage to Diego has had its ups and downs but then whenever they were together, one would simply sit back and wonder, is it really obsession that keeps them together or was it love that bound them together for a long time. While some would say that ideally, it is a story about Frida herself, I believe that one of the reasons why they had been together for so long was that they had been each other’s strength.
A non verbal way of trying to let somebody exactly what you feel I believe is when you express it in an artistic way. Her painting of the “Broken Column” is a haunting picture of her agony, emphasizing the source of her sorrow which is her physical ailment when her spinal column was broken.
Frida is an outstanding person, despite all the things that has happened to her, she was able to channel it in a way that is creative, productive and unique. Although some would say or maybe even cringe at her sexual preferences, and maybe it is even not that socially acceptable, all these things contributed to the way she is and what she was able to do. Most of all, one could easily relate to her emotionally because there are just times that a person just wants to stop and just let the world take over their lives, but then, here comes an outlet or a channel and
then a person would just try to cope and grit their teeth and maybe try to survive as much as they can, in ways they know how, Just like what Frida did. Her life story is so inspiring and truly, she is an amazing woman. She had her flaws but essentially, she is, for me a very strong and courageous woman.
Going back to talk about Frida and Diego’s marriage, it has always been stormy and is probably one of the most popular marriages in the artist’s society added to the fact that both artists were communists. People knew how much they love each other but they also know how the two can shift from love to hatred, and even into infidelities, Diego being a well known play boy
He had numerous affairs during their marriage, even one with Frida’s sister. Frida, in the crazy life of her marriage, went about telling everyone that she does not care about her husband’s extra-marital affairs. And yet, she always had. Frida once said that; “I have suffered two grave accidents in my life, one in which a street car ran me over; the other accident is Diego.” (Taymor)
Because of the emotional battering, she tried to get even and got back at him by having affairs herself with both men and women. She tried expressing her emotions in her paintings still. The tortured sense of well being was projected in the movie very well. They are both very talented though in different ways. Diego’s art were what people at the time really admired, the style at least. For he always had been a communist even before Frida. Frida’s art on the other hand were shocking, unconventional and were mostly drawn inwards.
In the continuous ups and downs of their relationship, they got divorced. . In one part of the movie, Frida, in her distress said to Diego that he always had been her comrade, her fellow artist and her the best of friends, but he never had been a husband to her. And perhaps to explain it to her, Diego was married four times in his lifetime, so I guess it should not have surprised her.
They got back together again after a year of separation. Frida, despite all the things she did was very much in-love with Diego in much the same way that Diego loves her. At one point in their lifetime, Diego said that he is physiologically incapable of fidelity and that the more he loves Frida, the more he wants to hurt her.
In a way, Diego was her equilibrium, someone to pour out her troubles on and be mad at, because somehow, she feels so differently in her heart but is self-preserving enough to not show how he is hurting her. She hates even when she loves him, and despite everything, they always fall back together. She always had been Diego’s greatest fan even as a toddler and later on, fate handed them a chance to fall in love. They are perfect though in the sense that they both admire each other so much and that they can not leave each other be.
Almost at the end of the film, It showed Diego and Frida talking about old memories. When Frida was very young and wanted to show Diego her paintings. Frida as a kid was very impertinent even then. And true to form, she was even more as an adult. One thing about her is that she has character, shown to great length in the film.
To some, wilting the rest of her days would have been a better option. And truth is, Frida would have had the perfect excuse. And yet, we know her today as a great woman and a great artist. Her works are poetry, pictures, and a story all rolled in one, meant not for fame but for an honest expression of her self. The struggles in her life and how she persevered inspires. In the end, she had all; fame for her art and even happiness and contentment with her husband.
Tina Modotti has always been her bestfriend and for all her cynicism, she admires what Frida and Diego had and have. Frida and Diego fought for the same cause, politically speaking, they are friends and are able to sought comfort in each other’s arms and better yet, they understand each other. For Frida and Diego, marriage is not the scary piece of paper that can scare even the most in-love people are wary from. Frida and Diego were bound by mutual respect and friendship, with a touch of obsession and love for each other. And for them, though unconventional in a lot of ways, marriage works.
The movie was a little hard to catch up with, viewing the constant shift of emotions and varying approaches of displaying the movie. But Frida is still Frida, and one simply has to feel empathy.
Fisher, Walter. “Narrative Criticism”. 1995 http://www.afirstlook.com/manual6/ed6man24.pdf>
Burke, Kenneth. “Symbolic Action.” 2005
Frida. 2002. Dir. Julie Taymor. Starring: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina and Ashley Judd