Sergei Eisenstein shot ¡Que viva México! in Mexico in 1931 during the Great Depression, a project financed by the author Upton Sinclair, his wife Mary Craig and a few friends. The economic crisis forced Sinclair to halt the project in early 1932, but fortunately most of the work was completed before Stalin summoned Eisenstein back to Moscow.
Sinclair promised Eisenstein that he would send him the negatives to enable him to do the final editing in Moscow, but with the director suspected of Trotskyist deviationism Mosfilm was instructed not to allow the film into the country. Eisenstein got off lightly, considering, but he was prevented from making films for several years, during which time he taught at the State Film School. Stalinist propaganda blamed Upton Sinclair for the non appearance of ¡Que viva México!
Two films were made using Eisenstein’s film footage, with Sinclair’s permission: Thunder over Mexico made in 1933 by Sol Lesser and Time in the Sun, made by Mary Seton in 1939/40. In the 1950s, Sinclair deposited Eisenstein’s unedited material with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Many film-historians believe ¡Que viva México! to be one of Eisenstein’s greatest films. ¡