El Mariachi

Institute History


Energetic and resourceful, this action-adventure/romantic-comedy hybrid must be, at seven thousand dollars, the cheapest feature ever released by a major studio. The story follows a lone mariachi musician who arrives in a Mexican border town at the same time as a hit man, freshly sprung from jail. They both wear black and carry similar guitar cases, except the mariachi's contains his beloved instrument, while the hit man's is a mini arsenal of gadgets and weapons. The mariachi falls in love with an enigmatic bar owner, who takes him in after he is accidentally mistaken for the hit man and finds himself ushered into a violent underworld. The skillfully paced film tracks between the mariachi's charming naiveté and the hit man's vengeful pursuits, enhanced by a unique attention to at-times incongruous details

Robert Rodriguez, a twenty-four-year-old native of San Antonio, served as director, coproducer, writer and editor on this first feature, which was shot in two weeks in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, while he was on a break from classes at the University of Texas. Astonishingly most of the scenes were captured in one take with a hand-held 16-mm camera, after which Rodriguez would record sound effects and dialogue, hand synching them after the shoot.

El Mariachi pays homage to the films of Sergio Leone and George Miller, updated by stylistic jokes which include speeded-up action, send-ups of genre conventions, and ample injections of humor. Rodriguez's singular achievement is in creating an accomplished debut film that will appeal both to general and Spanish-speaking audiences. Not too surprisingly, a six-million-dollar remake that Rodriguez will also direct is in the works.

Friday Jan 22 6:00 pm
Prospector Square Theatre

Saturday Jan 23 6:00 pm
Tower Theatre. Salt lake City

Sunday Jan 24 10:15 pm
Holiday Village Cinema It

Thursday Jan 28 10:15 pm
Holiday Village Cinema II

Saturday Jab 30 10:15 am
Holiday Village Cinema II


— Marian Luntz

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]