‘Son of Monarchs’ or ‘Hijo de Monarcas’ is a Mexican-American film that revolves around a biologist named Mendel as he comes to terms with his grandmother’s death and his own equally joyful and traumatic past. Written and directed by Alexis Gambis, this Spanish-language film interspersed with English explores concepts like immigration, environmental conservation, identity, and grief. Tenoch Huerta, Alexia Rasmussen, Noé Hernández Álvarez, and William Reibert Mapother Junior appear in pivotal roles.
The film relies heavily on its visual beauty to tell its blended tale of scientific exploration and human emotions. It quite literally explores the relationship — emotional, spiritual, physical, familial, cultural, and professional — between a man and his natural environment. So if you’re curious about where this stunning, award-winning film was shot, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about ‘Son of Monarchs’ filming locations.
Son of Monarchs Filming Locations
‘Son of Monarchs’ is set in New York City and Michoacán, Mexico. It was also filmed in NYC and Michoacán in Mexico. Part of the charm of ‘Son of Monarchs’ lies in its setting. Amongst the white-and-grey labs of his college and workplace, the splendidly orange-and-black monarch butterflies, and the sunlit forests of his childhood, Mendel’s transformation slowly takes place. The filming locations allow the movie to be authentic, adding weight to its exploration of natural phenomenon and themes such as immigration and culture. Let’s take a closer look at the particular filming sites!
‘Son of Monarchs’ was predominantly filmed in Angangueo, Michoacán in central Mexico. Angangueo is a small town located in a canyon in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. The monarch butterflies that the film focuses on migrate for the winters from Canada and the United States all the way down to the oyamel fir trees in the forests of Michoacán. A huge chunk of these forests surrounds Angangueo.
Mendel’s childhood home is situated in Angangueo. Thus, scenes involving his grandmother’s funeral, interactions with relatives, and childhood memories of chasing butterflies were filmed in this small municipality often called the Magic Town. Angangueo is known for its cobbled streets, warm weather, mining history, and proximity to the butterfly forests.
Several scenes were shot at the El Rosario sanctuary, the largest sanctuary in Michoacán and a part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. It makes sense that the filming crew chose to roll their cameras in Angangueo — a small, lively town possessing rich Mexican culture and a gateway to the magical monarch butterfly forests.
New York City, New York
Mendel’s college and work life are based in the Big Apple. Thus, a portion of ‘Son of Monarchs’ was also filmed in New York City. Many of the scenes were shot in the large campus of the New York University (NYU) located at 50 West, 4th Street, New York, NY 10012. In particular, filming took place at the NYU Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, located at 12 Waverly Place. The labs, greenhouses, and desk spaces of the university were especially utilized for filming. A few scenes were also shot in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Thus, ‘Son of Monarchs,’ through its process of filming, and Mendel, through his process of transformation, make their journey from north to south, from New York City to Mexico, just as the monarch butterflies themselves do. Gorgeously aesthetic and threaded with a deep sense of wonder, this Gambis directorial is an unforgettable visual and spiritual experience.
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