Mexico: Celebrating Cantinflas’ 100th Birthday

This August Mexico celebrates one hundred years of the birth of comedian Mario Moreno, better known as Cantinflas. In Mexico, and throughout Latin America Cantinflas is recognized as a great actor and one of Mexico's most admired comedians.

Generation after generation, children and adults have laughed together with his movies, television shows and comics. He was once called “the best comedian alive” by none other than American comedian Charles Chaplin.

Cantinflas represented the poorer side of Mexico. He was capable of making people reflect about the contrast between the poor and the rich in a unique way. And although he has passed away, Cantinflas keeps doing so through his movies.

Fans celebrate Cantinflas' birthday. Image by Flickr user Globovision (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Fans celebrate Cantinflas' birthday. Image by Flickr user Globovision (CC BY-NC 2.0).

In Cuéntame, blogger Axel Caballero begins his post writing about the importance of Cantinflas in his early memories:

I remember growing up watching old Cantinflas movies. So innocent, funny yet poignant. They all had something to say – a social commentary on class struggle and economic disparity in a country where often this is swept under the rug. Cantinflas was a symbol: with his doublespeak, his humility, warmth and above all his sense of humor he represented an entire country.

Blogger SotoHoyos for El Antagonista comments on the value of celebrating [es] the anniversary of Cantinflas’ birthday:

En estos momentos donde se dejó de entender -eso pareciera- que el humor es la expresión más elevada de la inconformidad y la tristeza, vale la pena rendir un pequeño homenaje a Cantinflas en la celebración de los 100 años de su nacimiento. Un homenaje a  uno de los grandes humoristas de Latinoamérica, que con una capacidad histróinica admirable, logró reflejar, reflexionar, analizar y pensar, sobre los más variados temas, de la cultura mexicana, la latina, la mundial.

Today when we have stopped understanding that humor is the highest expression of discontent and sadness, it is important to pay a small tribute to Cantinflas by celebrating 100 years of his birth. A tribute to one of the great comedians of Latin America, with an admirable capacity, he managed to reflect, analyze and think about the most varied themes of Mexican, Latin and world culture.

In the Los Angeles Times blog La Plaza, Ken Ellingwood mentions the cultural events taking place in Mexico:

The country, which could use a few laughs, is using the occasion for a monthlong celebration of his influence on Mexican film and culture.

For the rest of August, the late comic actor […] will be the  subject of exhibitions, film retrospectives, panel discussions and even a dance in his honor. Along tree-shaded Paseo de la Reforma, an outdoor exhibition of blown-up black-and-white photos and colorful movie posters provides a sense of how Cantinflas helped create a golden era of Mexican film.

Michael Lopez from Tr3s also describes how Mexicans are paying tribute to the comedian:

Even though Cantinflas passed away nearly 20 years ago, his impact lives on. In Mexico City, a massive outdoor gallery of his photographs and paintings are gracing the heavily trafficked streets. His star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame is also getting the royal 100th birthday treatment, with flowers, cards, and constant photo opps.

Cantinflas is still a movie star of the people. His characters always reflected the downtrodden, which is something the actor prided himself on. Despite being able to mingle with royals, Cantinflas never lost his down-to-earth spirit.

In the same post he mentions the importance of Cantinflas in other continents: 

And don't think that Cantinflas’ presence was just felt in Latin America. Across Europe news outlets are publishing stories on the legendary comedian, even dubbing him Mexico's “Groucho Marx.”

Apart from his fame on the screen, Cantinflas is responsible for some slang modifications in the Spanish language, including the verb “Cantinflear,” meaning to talk a lot but say nothing of substance.

On YouTube, AlJazeera English uploaded a video about Cantinflas and the celebration taking place in Mexico, and TeleSur posted an English-subtitled version of their report on the comedian's 100th birthday.


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