Quantum physics may be easier to follow than Mexico's early 20th-century power struggles, but vet documaker Jose Ramon Mikelajauregui's "History in Their Eyes" manages to view these national cataclysms through the intriguing prism of newsreels shot between the crucial years of 1907 and 1917.

Quantum physics may be easier to follow than Mexico’s early 20th-century power struggles, but vet documaker Jose Ramon Mikelajauregui’s “History in Their Eyes” manages to view these national cataclysms through the intriguing prism of newsreels shot between the crucial years of 1907 and 1917. Using pithy subtitles to explain the images (or their historical context, pic is largely an amalgam of restored film lensed by the Alva brothers, one of Mexico’s earliest doc units. The 2011 Ariel award will boost its visibility, but this remains specialist material.

Beginning with footage of President Taft meeting with Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz at the El Paso-Juarez border, this feature-length montage gradually traces an exceptionally bloody period in which a dizzying string of legitimate democratic victories (Francisco Madero’s electoral defeat of Diaz), murders (most dramatically, Madero’s), coups and civil wars mark Mexico’s revolutionary period. Among the splendid visual highlights are shots of a major Mexico City street subsequently named after Madero, Mexico City after a 1911 earthquake, and fierce warfare in the desert. Inserted sound effects, however, are a poor artistic choice.

History in Their Eyes

Mexico

Production

A Filmoteca Unam/Coordination of Cultural Distribution/Director General of Film Activities presentation. (International sales: Filmoteca Unam, Mexico City.) Produced by Jose Ramon Mikelajauregui. Executive producer, Guadalupe Ferrer. Directed, written, edited by Jose Ramon Mikelajauregui.

Crew

Camera (B&W, widescreen), Salvador Alva, Guillermo Alva, Eduardo Alva, Carlos Alva; editors, Hugo Mendoza Cruz, Mikelajauregui; music, Eduardo Gamboa; archival research, Carlos Martinez-Assad. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Aug. 15, 2011. (In Los Angeles Latino, Guadalajara film festivals.) Running time: 79 MIN.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more