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Blood In Blood Out

Blood In Blood Out

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 A poetic, behind-the-scenes retrospective of an L.A. cinema classic.

Akin to The Godfather in its scope and themes, Blood In Blood Out, which turned 30 this year, stumbled at the box office but was saved from obscurity by fervent Latino audiences, who reclaimed it as a cornerstone of their representation in cinema,” wrote Carlos Aguilar in the LA Times earlier this year.

Oscar winner Taylor Hackford’s film, released as Bound by Honor in 1993, tells the story of three members of the fictional East L.A. gang Vatos Locos over 10 years during the 70s and into the 80s. Then up-and-coming Latino actors Jesse Borrego, Benjamin Bratt, and Damian Chapa play the leading roles, their characters inevitably forming a tight bond, yet ultimately embarking on starkly different paths. Borrego’s Cruz is a painter who develops a tragic drug addiction, Bratt’s Paco, a boxer turned police officer, gets viewed as a traitor, and Chapa’s Miklo, an Anglo kid with some Mexican ancestry desperate to fit in, ends up in prison where he becomes an important member of a dangerous Chicano prison gang.

“Credit for the lived-in sensibilities of the film goes to Jimmy Santiago Baca, a New Mexico poet who honed his craft in la pinta (slang for prison). Chapa refers to him as a ‘modern-day Chicano Oscar Wilde,’ while Borrego calls him ‘the Chicano Shakespeare’,” writes Aguilar.

The film’s wide-ranging portrayal of East Los Angeles Chicano sensibilities and powerful identity struggles have earned it a place in classic L.A. cinema. This limited-edition book is a 30th anniversary tribute to the cult classic film, and features production materials with hundreds of unseen behind-the-scenes photographs and film stills shot by photographer Merrick Morton, paintings by the late San Antonio artist Adan Hernández, whose mural “Carnalismo” is shown in the film’s final scene, and original poems by screenwriter Jimmy Santiago Baca. Blood In Blood Out is a book companion to the film but also a love letter to Los Angeles and the cast and crew of this seminal motion picture classic.

To quote Baca in Aguilar’s LA Times piece, “It’s a beautiful panoramic view of who we are as a people, in our abundance rather than our exclusivity.”