Almost a year ago, a huge fireworks market in the Mexican city of Tultepec exploded for reasons that are not known. Fireworks exploded within fireworks and above and below fireworks to form a massive fiery monster, a mind-boggling spectacle that no amount of computer-power in Hollywood could reproduce for a big-budget film. For many Americans, this terrible and sublime (in the Kantian sense) accident (it killed 42 people people and injured around 80) was the first time they learned of Tultepec, a city whose economy and culture is centered on the production and distribution of fireworks.
The gorgeous documentary Brimstone & Glory by Viktor Jakovleski is about this city and its obsession with fireworks. Though the film does not mention the accident of 2016, it does capture the life of Tultepec's huge fireworks economy—its dealers, its buyers, its tourists, its competitions, its madmen, and so on. We also see the dangers of this kind of business. Fireworks are hot and their rockets can hit your eyes and blind you for life. We also see arms missing hands and spark-scarred skin. We see men climbing to the dizzying top of structures to set up fireworks. Or men on the streets dancing with millions of sparks. The film is, of course, stunning and poetic. That is a given because fireworks, like movies, are above all about impressing the eyes.
For more information about this fiery documentary, visit Movie Times.