The movie Selena follows the true story of Selena Quintanilla and her rise to fame as a Mexican-American musician in the 1980s and early 1990s. Growing up in a musical family, Selena was born to sing. Her father had been a part of a band called The Dinos as a young man and had his love for music rejuvenated when he heard young nine year old Selena’s voice. After being moved by Selena’s apparent talent for singing, he felt inspired to create a family band which he named Selena y Los Dinos consisting of Selena as the lead vocalist alongside her brother and sister on the bass guitar and drums. Selena’s father began teaching Selena spanish to embrace their Mexican heritage in their music and made Selena y Los Dinos continuously practice for long periods of time to master their songs. His dream was to showcase Selena’s amazing voice to the world believing she had what it takes to become a star to connect people in both Mexico and the United States.
After quitting his job and opening a Mexican restaurant in an attempt to make more money to cover the extra cost of performing, Selena’s father began to arrange for Selena y Los Dinos to perform at various restaurants and fairs to get Selena’s voice out in the community. With a time skip to around the age of 17, Selena’s career had begun to gain substantial popularity especially amongst people of hispanic origin. She performed in fairs all across Texas drawing in massive amounts of people. Her fame only rose from there with a performance in an outdoor venue in Monterrey, Mexico where people crowded in as far as the eye could see to hear her. With an underlying theme of the forbidden relationship between Selena and her lead guitarist, Chris, the movie progresses with no signs of Selena’s fame slowing down. After the supposed climax where Selena wins a Grammy in best Mexican-American album, tragedy strikes as Selena is shot and killed by her trusted financial secretary who had been suspected of tampering with Selena’s finances. Selena ends with the mourning of family and fans alongside pictures of the lively Selena as a tribute to her short lived life.
Overall, I moderately enjoyed the movie. As an individual who knew nothing about Selena Quintanilla upon watching the movie, I thought it was quite boring at first watching the rise of an artist I had never heard of before. Selena’s rise to fame was rather cliché as the movie mainly focused on how great of a singer she was in addition to her qualms with not being able to love Chris, the guitarist, at the disapproval of her father. Additionally, the movie could have done better in transitioning between scenes to support its gradual progression to the sudden ending. In one instance, the movie shows Selena bungee jumping but then immediately cuts to her arguing with her boyfriend reflecting poor transitioning in my opinion.
One element I commend the developers of Selena on is the ending where Selena is suddenly rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead shortly after. The ordeal was handled very abruptly which I believe holds a symbolic sense. This sudden, unexpected death of Selena symbolizes the unpredictability of life and reminds us all that we are not guaranteed what is deemed a full life in this world and can be swiftly removed at any time. This is amplified by the development of Selena’s bright and lively character throughout the movie. In sum, I feel like Selena would have been much more enjoyable for someone who knew about the story of Selena Quintanilla beforehand or was a fan of hers during her time in this world. I think the directors intended for people to know about Selena before watching so that the exceedingly happy mood in the first portion of the movie would create a sense of impending doom in viewers who knew of Selena’s fate. This would bolster the significance of her death at the end making it a far more impactful watch.
Nava, Gregory, director. Selena. Q-Productions, 1997.