María Eva Duarte de Perón – 7 May 1919 – 26 July 1952) was the second wife of President Juan Perón (1895–1974) and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is often referred to as simply Eva Perón, or Evita. Born in the village of Los Toldos in Argentina in 1919, she was the youngest of five children. In 1934, at the age of 15, she went to the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires, where she pursued a career as a stage, radio, and film actress. Eva met Colonel Juan Perón on 22 January 1944, in Buenos Aires during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina. The two were married the following year. In 1946, Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina. Over the course of 6 years Eva became more and more powerful….Her most famous portrayal was by Madonna in the 1996 film “Evita”
Evita 1996 film
Evita was the 1996 film version of Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical based on the life of Eva Peron and stars Madonna as Eva, Antonio Banderas as Che Guevara, Jonathan Pryce as Juan Peron and Jimmy Nail as Augustin Magaldi the singer. It follows her journey from being a child of the lower class to becoming first lady and spiritual leader of Argentina.
Antonio Banderas narrates the story appearing in many different guises and serving as Eva’s conscience and critic.
The story starts in a cinema in Argentina. The film is stopped and it is announced that Eva Peron is dead and we see the huge public funeral. We go back in time to Eva’s fathers funeral, where as a young child, Eva attempts to attend it in the town of Junin with her mother and siblings. Despite her father’s wife and other family denying her family from entering, Eva pays her last respects to her father.
Years go by and Eva decides to leave Junin to seek a better life in Buenos Aires with Tango singer Augustin Magaldi (Jimmy Nail) whom she is having an affair with. He leaves her and she endures 3 affairs with men who help to kick-start her career as a radio personality, model and actress.
She has a fateful meeting with colonel Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce) at a fundraiser. Perón’s connection with Eva lends him a populist air, since she is from the working class (as is Perón himself). Eva has a radio show during Perón’s rise and uses all her skills to promote Perón, even when the controlling administration has him jailed in an attempt to stunt his political momentum. The groundswell of support Eva generates forces the government to release Perón, and he finds the people enamored of him and Eva Peron wins the election.
Eva continues to rise to fame and establishes a foundation, but during a World Tour Eva is taken ill and rushed home. Towards the end of her life, she understands that she is terminally ill but rationalizes that her life was short because she shone like the “brightest fire” and helps Perón prepare to go on without her. She dies of cancer age just 33 on July 26th 1952.
But was she as genuine as the people thought ? ……..
In 1947, she set up the Maria Eva Duarte De Peron Welfare Foundation, which distributed money, food and medicines to those most in need. The money came from ‘contributions’, not always willingly given, from businesses and unions. The result was very popular with the poor masses, but far less popular with the elite.
As Evita’s popularity and power grew so did criticism from the opposition and (in some cases) from certain sectors of Peronismo. They attacked from different angles: activities inappropriate for a First Lady, undistilled resentment, dangerous influence on Perón. People felt that she had an uncontrolled ambition for power.
The criticism was not of what was being done, or how it was being done, or why it was being done but that it was being done by a woman. As J.M. Taylor says, “Evita confronts us with the enigma of power attributed to a woman in a traditionally and formally patriarchal society, a society that devalues women as against men.”
What are your thoughts on the subject ?