El lugar sin límites, Mexican cinema, music, national identity, opera, La reina de la noche, Lucha Reyes, Arturo Ripstein.
Since the advent of the sound era, music has played a defining role in Mexican cinema. Music was integral to the development of a national film culture, with popular songs often lending their titles to box-office successes such as Allá en el Rancho Grande (1936), Ay Jalisco no te rajes (1941), and Aventurera (1950). Music ultimately became a shorthand for a unique national identity, known as mexicanidad, with the plots of films in the 1940s and 1950s emulating the lyrics of these popular songs, or relying on their popularity for success with audiences already familiar with the soundtracks of the films. The questioning and overturning of the traditional association in Mexican cinema between music and a shared national identity is a central motif in Arturo Ripstein’s filmmaking practice, and one that will be examined in this chapter with reference to El lugar sin límites (1977) and La reina de la noche (1994). The manner in which gender norms and performance are interrogated in each work is discussed, as well as the way in which La reina de la noche re-imagines the often hackneyed genre of the biopic.