Music In Color
Rock In Our Own Language
A New Era
Break It All is a nicely paced, 6-episode series diving into the heart of rock music in Latin America. Armed with a unique visual flair, a wonderful soundtrack and an engrossing narrative, Netflix’s latest documentary is a real cracker.
The series begins in the early 60’s with Mexico’s Los Teen Tops and Uruguay’s Los Shakers imitating Western rock acts. As Beatlemania sweeps the world, the latter half of the 60’s brought about a slightly different flavour of rock in Latin America. Bands like Chile’s Los Jaivas and Argentina’s Arco Iris began what was to become a seismic shift in music across the forthcoming years.
The series then progresses through the decades, paying homage to those trailblazers and trend-setters that changed the face of rock in Latin America; something I’m sure few people outside the area would be aware of.
Interestingly, the show also shines the spotlight on the success of Gabriela Parodi, a galvanizing woman who stood out in a largely male-dominated field. This inevitably lays the foundation for a new wave of female rockers, something the final episode (aptly titled “A New Era”) looks at in more detail.
Break It All is not just a celebratory look at music though, in fact the show runs a lot deeper than that as Government pressure, “missing” and murdered musicians as well as vilification from newspapers made life very difficult for these bands. Episode 2 in particular really hones in on this as the government ban rock music. It seems unfathomable to think people were put in jail for being musicians but this, unfortunately, was a very real reality in Latin America.
Although the show does jet across different Central and South America countries, for the most part this series focuses most of its efforts on Mexico and Argentina. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I did find myself itching to see more of the other countries and the artists they were producing too. Still, that’s more a personal gripe rather than a detriment to this one.
Break It All backs up its engrossing and absorbing story with some impressive stylistic cues. From the split-screen shots depicting different vinyl sleeves to the neat inclusion of country flags next to each person being interviewed, Break It All has a great visual flair that makes each episode an eye-catching treat.
The eclectic soundtrack bleeds through numerous rock songs of the era too, and seeing this change and evolve over time – matching that of the show’s on-running timeline – is partly the reason this works as well as it does.
If you’re a fan of rock music, Break It All is well worth a watch. It’s a brilliant deep dive into a region mired by controversy and Governmental scrutiny in the face of a cultural wave of new music. Seeing the birth of rock, harmonized by the evolving attitudes of people over the decades, makes Break It All a really well written documentary and definitely one of the stronger entries in the field this year.