In 1938, Eva Duarte was 19 years old. Before being Eva Perón or Evita, the future first lady of Argentina and the most influential woman in the South American country, she was then an unknown young woman who had moved to Buenos Aires to make her way into the cinema. That year he made his debut as the protagonist of a short advertisement, entitled La luna de miel de Inés, whose copies were considered lost. The finding of one of them, preserved for decades by the children of the director of a distributor of the time, will allow the Argentine public to see Evita in a role in the antipodes of the one for which she was remembered, but in which they could feel identified many Argentine women of the thirties.
In the six-minute recording, described by film historian and collector Fernando Martín Peña In the diary Page 12, Eva Duarte plays Inés, a newly married woman who waits for her husband with food on the table. “What does my brand new cook say?” Ernesto greets her when entering the house. She tries the prawn mayonnaise and the fritters that she has prepared for her, but she rejects them. As she sobs and he prepares to go back to the office, he recommends that he talk to his mother, who knows his tastes.
Instead of turning to her mother-in-law, Eva Duarte’s character calls her friend Carmen and thanks to her she finally achieves the approval of her husband, whom she takes to the kitchen to show him her secret: Olavina oil.
– As you have seen, ladies, this oil has gotten me out of trouble, says the protagonist on camera.
“(Duarte) plays an archetype of a woman that she never wanted to be, submissive, homelike, servile to her husband when in her life she wanted to be something else,” reflects Peña, who received the 35mm copy, in nitrate support, so keep it until it is restored. Nothing to see, compare, with the leading role in his last film, The prodigal (1945), in which she plays an independent and strong woman, committed to the suffering of others.
“It is interesting to relate the two, because the beginning of her career coincides with the description of a shy and fragile girl made by the people who knew her at that time. And in just seven years apart we see a huge transformation, because his character in The prodigal It not only has to do with what he wants to do in his real life, but it is quite prophetic, “adds Peña about the woman who became the wife of former President Juan Domingo Perón.
The localized copy remained for decades in the hands of the brothers Sergio and Tito Livio La Rocca, sons of Alberto La Rocca, director of the INCA Films de la Argentina distributor between 1936 and 1938. The recording was delivered to Peña in 2019. “The film It comes cut into five pieces, but luckily no frame is missing. It can be joined without inconvenience, but you need tools that I don’t have ”, explains this researcher.
The Evita Museum will take care of the cost of restoring the short film, which everything indicates that it will be held in Lisbon once the restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic are lifted. “Another closer place would be San Pablo, but the cinematheque has been in crisis since the Bolsonaro government,” explains Peña, who regrets that it is impossible to carry out this task in Argentina because there is no photochemical laboratory. This collector, co-founder of the Filmoteca Buenos Aires, he is very critical of the lack of public policies for the preservation of Argentine film memory: “It is not an isolated case, it is the entire audiovisual heritage. As much as the figure of Evita is interesting, even The prodigal It was not available for a long time ”, he stresses.
Inés’s honeymoon does not even figure in most of the texts written about Duarte’s artistic life. It is mentioned for the first time by the researcher Noemí Castiñeiras in 2002 as part of “a series of publicity works”. This is the only one that has recovered. It will be on display when the pandemic permits.
Subscribe here to the newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of the region.