|Like Water for Chocolate|
|Directed by||Alfonso Arau|
|Produced by||Alfonso Arau|
|Written by||Laura Esquivel|
Mario Iván Martínez
|Release date(s)||16 April 1992|
|Running time||123 min|
|Gross revenue||$21,665,468 (USA) |
Like Water for Chocolate is a 1992 film based on the popular novel, published in 1989 by first-time Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel. It earned all 11 Ariel awards of the Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures, including the Ariel Award for Best Picture, and became the highest grossing Spanish-language films ever released in the United States at the time.
Like Water For Chocolate is a love story that takes place in Mexico in the era of the Mexican Revolution. The main character Tita de la Garza, the novel's protagonist, and Pedro, the lifelong object of her love, fall in love at a young age.
When he is of age, Pedro and his father come to ask if Pedro can have Tita’s hand in marriage. Tita's mother, Mama Elena, refuses. The de la Garza family tradition demands that the youngest daughter must remain unmarried and take care of her mother until death. Mama Elena offers Rosaura’s hand instead because she is the eldest child. Pedro accepts, to the disappointment of his father, in order to be closer to Tita.
Even after Pedro accepts Rosaura, Mama Elena keeps a close watch on her. When Tita finds an excuse to not attend Rosaura's engagement party, Mama Elena forces Tita to prepare the wedding banquet as punishment. But Tita's desire for Pedro is translated into her cooking, and as the wedding guests eat the wedding cake, they are filled with longing for their true love. The wedding ends with all the guests crying by the river. Even Mama Elena unlocks a box holding a photograph of a man who is not her late husband.
After Tita and Pedro speak briefly at Rosaura's wedding, Mama Elena hints at her own history by scolding Tita and saying, "I've done everything you're thinking of doing".
One year passes and Pedro gives a bouquet of roses to Tita "in honor of being head chef". Mama Elena demands that Tita throw the roses out, but Tita, with her passion and love ignited, decides to cook Quail with petals from the roses instead. Pedro, Tita, and Gertrudis(Tita's other sister) themselves feel incredible passion through the meal, while Mama Elena and Rosaura find it inedible. Gertrudis's body heat literally sets fire to the outdoor shower building, and she leaves the ranch naked with a revolutionary soldier (though she returns as the head of a revolutionary army).
One night Mama Elena overhears Pedro and Tita, and the next day Elena sends Rosaura, Pedro and their baby boy to Texas to live with family. Soon, they receive news that the baby has died on the way to Texas. Tita blames her mother; Mama Elena responds by slapping Tita. Finally at her breaking point, Tita secludes herself in a dovecote. Mama Elena states that there is no place for "lunatics" like Tita on the farm, and wants her to be institutionalized. However, Dr. John Brown (who had been summoned for the birth of Rosaura's now deceased child) decides to take care of Tita at his home instead. While caring for Tita, Dr. Brown tells Tita a story from his Native American grandmother, that all humans are born with enough phosphorous to burn like a candle. But to set off this fire, every person must find their own trigger. They must also be careful to not set off all their internal phosphorous at once, or risk immolation. Tita eventually enters into a relationship with Dr. Brown, even planning to marry him at one point, but she cannot shake her feelings for Pedro.
After a little while, Dr. Brown asks Tita to marry him. Even though her mother is still alive, Tita agrees and vows never to return home to her mother ever again. Her mother dies soon afterward, and she returns home to the funeral. After the funeral she discovers that her mother also had a secret lover who was the father of her second child, Gertrudis.
Rosaura and Pedro return for the funeral as well, which causes sexual tension between Tita and Pedro. Rosaura soon gives birth to a second child, a girl, and is told that due to complications she will never be able to have another child. Rosaura declares that her daughter Esperanza will never marry because she, like Tita, will have to take care of her mother.
Dr. Brown is called away and Tita and Pedro find their way to each other. Tita fears that she might be pregnant. After this her mother's ghost appears, telling her that both she and her child will be cursed. Tita finally stands up to her mother’s spirit, sending her away, but her mother makes a final lash out at Pedro by causing him to be severely burned.
Tita nurses him back to health until Dr. Brown returns. After his return, Tita tells Dr. Brown that she can not marry him because she gave her virginity to another. Dr. Brown vows that it does not matter to him because he loves her and still wants to marry her, but will respect her wishes if she does not still feel the same way about him.
Time moves forward by 20 years to 1934. The audience learns each person's fate through conversations at the wedding of Rosaura's daughter Esperanza to the son of Dr. Brown. Rosaura has suspiciously died of a gastronimical disease three days after an argument between Rosaura and Tita about Esperanza's future. At the wedding reception, Pedro confesses to Tita that he still loves her, wants to marry her and has dreamed of their wedding day. He does not care what other people will say.
The effect of Tita's cooking again permeates the wedding guests, and all the guests leave rapidly, this time with passion and love instead of regret and longing.
The movie ends with Tita and Pedro making love in a candle-lit barn. As Dr. Brown had warned years before, Tita and Pedro's passions ignite too quickly, and Pedro dies just as he has a sensuous orgasm. Tita swallows matches to self-immolate, lighting the entire ranch on fire in the process. Esperanza returns to the now destroyed ranch to find only Tita’s cookbook, which held her amazing recipes and told of her and Pedro’s love story.
Esperanza names her daughter Tita, obviously in honor of the love and protection the elder Tita showed as Rosaura emulated her mother's controlling and bitter nature.
In the final scene, Esparanza's daughter Tita, now fully grown and having narrated the entire movie, ends by saying, "My Mother, how I miss her cooking. The smell of her kitchen. Her talking while she prepared the meals. Her Christmas rolls. Mine never come out like hers. For some reason I can't make myself stop crying when I make them. It must be that I am as sensitive to onions as Tita, my great aunt. She'll continue to live as long as someone continues to cook her recipes."
The phrase "like water for chocolate" comes from the Spanish como agua para chocolate. This phrase is a common expression in Spanish speaking countries and was the inspiration for Laura Esquivel's novel title (the name has a double-meaning). In some Latin American countries, such as Mexico, hot chocolate can be made not with milk, but with water. Water is boiled and chunks of milk chocolate are dropped in to melt thus creating the hot chocolate. The saying "like water for chocolate," alludes to this fact and also to the common use of the expression as a simile for describing a state of passion or – sometimes – sexual arousal. In some parts of Latin America, the saying is also equivalent to being "boiling mad" in anger. The phrase is also commonly used to mean something is "perfect" for something else.