Viva Frida

11 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2015. $38.99. ISBN 9781681410173.
K-Gr 3—Yuyi Morales's groundbreaking exploration of artist Frida Kahlo's journey to creative expression fails to make a graceful leap to video. For a viewer unfamiliar with the bilingual picture book (Roaring Brook, 2014), the production may seem like a disjointed jumble of Spanish and English phrases projected on a backdrop of indecipherable imagery accompanied by a Spanish guitar. While the text and illustrations are nicely married in the spreads of the printed edition, the video's animation and voice-over make following the poetic narrative arc challenging. Actress and voice artist Adriana Sananes narrates with spirit, but she can't overcome the stilted fragmentation between the Spanish and English phrases, alternately spoken and displayed on the screen. Morales's mixed-media illustrations (photography of puppets, acrylic paintings, and digital manipulation) are slightly animated, which adds visual interest. A bilingual bonus, the author's note, is easier to follow and more entertaining than the main feature.
VERDICT This disc unfortunately does not bring new life to Morales's book but rather obfuscates it.

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