‘Selena’ Honors Music Star Tejano’s Legacy
This week, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ll take a look at a film that examines the life, legacy and tragic death of the Queen of Tejano who idolized her and her work as an artist. music for new generations.
“Selena” (1997) is a musical biopic about the life of Selena Quintanilla, a rising star of Tejano music who was tragically murdered in her prime. Directed by Gregory Nava, the film stars Jennifer Lopez as title character Selena, who goes to great lengths to do justice to the singer and portray the challenges she faced within her family and in the industry. music.
The film also stars Jon Seda as Chris Perez, Selena’s guitarist lover and eventual husband, and Edward James Olmos as Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father and band manager whose nature strictness and discipline towards his future in music are addressed in their relationship.
As a biopic, this film manages to recreate the look of who Selena was and her style of music. The costumes alone are incredibly accurate and depict the creativity and care that went into the crafting of the original costumes designed and worn by Selena herself, showcasing one of her aspirations to break into the fashion industry. Lopez transforms into Selena not just by the way she dresses, but by the mannerisms she adopts to portray her pace and stage presence during her performances.
Born and raised in Texas, the film follows Selena through her life from the beginning of her interest and talent for music to her brutal murder and her legacy that continues today. The film does not begin chronologically but rather moves from her last live performance at the Astrodome in Houston to her as a young girl dreaming of becoming a star.
While her musical talents are realized by her father, the sudden pressure on Selena as well as her siblings to pursue music creates an interesting conflict and family bond that is explored in the film.
Abraham and Selena’s relationship, differing between a father and daughter dynamic as well as a manager and an artist, shows an underlying tension that intensifies once guitarist Chris Perez becomes part of Los Dinos. Selena and Chris’ romantic relationship is seen as a double threat by Abraham, who loses his baby girl to someone he sees as a bad musician, while wasting his future in music by wasting his potential.
Nava isn’t afraid to show these raw emotional aspects of Selena’s life and the internal conflicts she’s had with the demands of her family, especially considering how real-life members of the Quintanilla family might react to their performances on screen.
Selena’s influence as a woman of her kind is a theme highlighted throughout the film, particularly by her father Abraham, whose own musical history taught her the difficulties of staying true to her heritage while doing appeal to American culture. Audiences can relate to Selena seeing her equally struggle to honor both identities as she progresses primarily from Tejano music to producing an album for English-speaking audiences.
Selena’s story was recently adapted into a Netflix original show similarly called “Selena: The Series” (2020). Although the episodic format offers more depth and opportunities to explore her life, the film is able to capture the essence of Selena and the significance of her contribution to the Tejano music industry.