Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lima in 1944

Lima Family is a documentary by Julien Bryan and released in 1944 by theU.S. Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, which had hired Bryan to produce a series of films on Latin American culture to be shown in schools and other venues during World War II.

It is an interesting exercise to compare the pace of life in Lima of 2008 shown in Huk Punchaw to Lima as it appeared in the 1940s.

Those familiar with Lima will be able to recognize landmarks such as the racetrack which provided the ground upon which San Felipe was built and its grandstands which later became the Ministry of the Navy, as well as a very different La Herradura beach. Included among those sights is this house, located on the corner of Av. Salaverry and Jr. Mariategui, in Jesus Maria:

This is a house that I have always noticed, ever since I was child, as it is a striking edifice, grander and more graceful than other, and later, constructions along that stretch of Salaverry. I have often wondered about its history and what it might have been like in its glory days. Lima Family provides answers to these questions.

Watching it, I am struck by how little some patterns have changed since then: the valuing of old things -"treasures from earlier, better days", the frequent getting-together of the family for meals, Papá Ramón's and, particularly, Mamá Pali's hold over their far-flung, multigenerational clan.

Unfortunately, the film's Lima family, shown so happily enjoying their "leisurely life", would soon be struck by tragedy.

The family shown is the Graña Garland family, and the surgeon and patriarch depicted is Dr. Francisco Graña, several times president of the National Academy of Medicine. One of his children, was Francisco Graña Garland, owner of a farmaceutical firm and director of the conservative daily La Prensa, and noted archi-conservative commentator and fervent opponent of the then-reformist movement, APRA.

On January 7, 1947, as he left his farmaceutical firm, Graña Garland was shot to death by unknown assailants. This event is often noted as one of the factors in the crisis which brought down the government of Pres. José Bustamante y Rivero and ended the brief "Democratic Spring" of the 1940s.

One the young women appearing in the film, Dr. Grañas daughter, Rosa, also known as "Mocha," later became a fashion designer, theater and dance figure, and tireless promoter of the performing arts. She died in the old family house in 2003.

The house itself, has been apparently unocuppied since then, if not before, and has sported a "for sale" sign for many years.


Anonymous said...

Some more here (
Don't know if you've seen it.

The blog is looking great by the way!

Juancho said...

Thanks, Stuart!

I have seen that film on YouTube. It is another of Julien Bryan's productions for the US OCIAA.