"The Mystery of Eva Peron" is a detailed account of Eva Peron's life history and also goes into the mysteries surrounding her embalmed corpse. This classic documentary was originally released in Argentina back in the late 80's and has been re-issued, uncut. For those who are interested in purchasing or viewing this item, please bear in mind that it is in Spanish (with English subtitles) but it's definitely worthy of checking out if you are an Evita fan, a historian or just want to enlighten yourself on the subject matter. It is lengthy (well over an hour and a half) featuring a tremendous amount of photographs, newsreel footage and information pertaining to the enigmatic first lady, her husband and their controversial movement. This film is especially interesting because of the numerous witness testimony from people who were actually there during the first Peronist period and who had direct, personal involvement with Eva and/or were a close friend. Some of their accounts are clearly laced with admiration and passion (especially the testimony of Eva Peron's personal confessor, Father Hernan Benitez who has since passed away like many others featured here) which just demonstrates the fierce loyalty and dedication this woman inspired in her devoted colleagues. Even Cipriano Reyes, who fell from the Peron's good graces and was used as a scapegoat as one of the masterminds of a Peron assassination plot, admitted that to deny Eva's charitable works, is like "clipping the wings" of a bird mid-flight.
My one of only a few complaints lies with the story's execution. The documentary switches back and fourth between Eva's life to the many escapades experienced by her mummified body. All of this back and fourth does become a bit grating but considering the tremendous amount of very interesting information that the film-makers are throwing at us, I guess it's a small price to pay. The newsreel footage used, for the most part, is good. It mixes the usual footage used in many other documentaries in with some rarities. I just wished they would have shown footage of Evita's film career: "La Carga de los Valientes", "La Cabalgata del Circo" and most importantly "La Prodiga" her final picture . I have an old used copy of this documentary on VHS and I noticed that in several sections, the footage was cleaned up quite a bit and my VHS copy was heavily edited by at least 15 minutes. There is also a tremendous assortment of photographs used but just like the newsreel footage, in some instances, they are unsatisfactorily produced with unsightly scratches but in other cases, they are immaculate and several rare pictures are reproduced. I was especially delighted to see many of Eva Duarte's artistic photos featuring her on the cover of many showbiz magazines, advertisements and some "cheesecake" shots are thrown in as well. The photos show a thin, pretty brunette who reinvents herself into a blonde with cascading curls who reinvents herself yet again into the iconic Evita of the braided chignon and tailor made business suits. The physical transformation is stunning but even more poignant is the beating Eva's beauty took from cancer. Photographs and newsreel footage show the charismatic beauty wither away into a gaunt, sickly, sad, physically weak woman (at times she had to be held up by her husband) who weighed a miserable 80 pounds (or less according to many) in the last stage of her life. Like all documentaries of Evita, her dramatic fall from power, the harsh criticisms geared towards her, her battle with cancer and the gross mismanagement of her corpse is talked about in detail.
For those who have not seen this and are interested in the subject matter, "The Mystery of Eva Peron" should not disappoint. Unlike other documentaries which run no more than 60 minutes in length (too short a time to fully tell Evita's story), this documentary is lengthy, well researched, engrossing and is one of the few that actually showcases the many people who personally dealt with her. Combine this with hundreds of photographs (many quite striking), actual recordings of Eva's speeches, and interesting documentary footage, Eva's story is told like no other documentary in existence. The DVD also has a few movie trailers and a brief and disappointing photo gallery. Considering the tremendous amount of photographs that have been released of Eva recently which have made their way in to photo books like "EVITA: Imagenes de Coleccion" and "Evita en Fotos" by Felipe Pigna, there is no excuse for having such a sub-standard photo gallery. But this is a minor complaint of an overall enthralling documentary on the life of one of the most fascinating woman of modern history.