Is the Curse of La Llorona based on a true story? Explore the scary Mexican folk tale behind the Weeping Woman
Like previous Conjuring films such as Annabelle and the Nun, the Curse of the Weeping Woman also claims to be based on a ‘true story’ - the Mexican folk tale of La Llorona, a scorned woman who killed her own children.Updated: Apr 19, 2019 12:40 IST
The latest instalment in James Wan’s Conjuring Universe, The Curse of the Weeping Woman, was released across the world on Friday. Like the series’ previous entries - the first and second Conjuring films, two more Annabelle movies and The Nun - the Curse of the Weeping Woman also claims to be (at least in part) based on a real story. This time it is the Mexican folk tale of La Llorona, a woman who is said to have drowned her two children in a river, and wanders the earth looking to steal others’.
SyFy Wire says that while the legend of La Llorona is largely thought of as a Mexican tale - a story that every child is told in their youth - it can trace its origins to Aztec times. “The curse of La Llorona is something we grow up with,” Venezuelan actor Patricia Velazquez, who stars in the film, told Moviefone. “The legend of La Llorona has been handed down from generation to generation, especially in the Latin community, where you’re warned that if you don’t behave, La Llorona will get you,” actor Raymond Cruz told the Los Angeles Times. “Not might get you. Will get you.”
While some stories depict her as a ‘skull-faced goddess Cihuacoatl’ who is said to have been seen ‘weeping at the crossroads where she abandoned her own child’, more recent avatars portray her a ‘beautiful but hopelessly impoverished village girl named Maria’. Maria caught the eye of a village nobleman - a Spaniard - who pursued her despite the warnings of the villagers. They had two sons. But ultimately, the report says, their differences became too much for their relationship to handle. The nobleman dumped Maria, married another woman, thereby mending his strained relationship with his family. “Maria drowned her sons in grief, and soon after she went missing, her own body washed up on the banks of the river,” the story continues.
Different cultures have their own versions of La Llorona. In Norse mythology, the figure Gudrun kills her own children as well, as do the Greek figures of Medea and Lamia, the latter of whom was turned into a child-eating monster when she was found to be Zeus’ mistress by Hera. Medea, in particular, has a lot in common with Maria. “Both women alienate themselves from their worlds for their men, both grow jealous and then rage and act in defiance,” historian Gregorio Luke told the Long Beach Press Telegram in 2011. The Chumash of Southern California have their own connection to La Llorona, as does La Malinche.
The Curse of the Weeping Woman isn’t La Llorona’s first depiction on screen. Other film adaptations include La Llorona (1933), La Llorona (1960) and The Curse of the Crying Woman (1961), as well as small appearances on television shows such as Grimm and Supernatural.
The Curse of the Weeping Woman has received mixed to negative response. The film currently sits at a ‘rotten’ 35% score on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It is expected to open to a franchise low $17 million in the United States, according to Box Office Mojo. But this wouldn’t be the first time that the crew has experienced a setback. “We did have some creepy supernatural occurrences,” the director Michael Chaves told the LA Times. “Half the crew actually does believe the house that we shot in was haunted, and there might have been something to that.”
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