It is well known that Chavela Vargas was a close friend and a frequent house guest of Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera.
Chavela Vargas was so close to Kahlo, that a short-lasting affair is speculated to have occurred between the two before Kahlo married Rivera.
In the film, Chavela Vargas plays the role of a ghost who consoles Kahlo. Kahlo had been drinking in a bar for some time when she notices a ghost sitting down at a nearby table.
A black shawl, which references the song lyrics, is wrapped around the ghost and Kahlo initially is quite hesitant to approach her.
As Kahlo is about to sit next to the ghost, the ghost reveals her face to Kahlo. Kahlo continues to listen to Vargas’ interpretation of the song, and becomes overwhelmed by her memories and begins to cry.
Kahlo begins to remember the car accident that changed her life and also her turbulent past with her husband.
Chavela Vargas is known throughout the Americas for her songs of struggle, defiance, and triumph. Although she remained true to the typical ranchera sound, she created her own unique sound in the process.
The typical ranchera was a masculine but emotional song about Love and its mishaps, usually mediated by alcohol, since in a macho culture, the display of feelings by men is allowed only to the drunk.
The ranchera is sung from a man’s perspective. Chavela Vargas sang this type of song as a solo evoking the singing style of a drunk man.
Interpretations of La Llorona
The singer feels trapped by this woman (La Llorona) who has fallen in love with him. If he even thinks about leaving her, she weeps. He tries everything in his power to leave her, but he is trapped by pity for the woman.
He wishes to be taken down to the river to be drowned, and so then his suffering can finally end. The suffering that the man goes through from being trapped in a relationship with a woman in a way parallels the suffering that the woman in the legend goes through from having her lover leave her.