Bless Me, Ultima

Based on the novel by Rudolfo Anaya, this PG-13 coming-of-age story is set in rural New Mexico late in WWII. When a Chicano boy starts the first grade in 1944, he carries a red Big Chief tablet identical to the one I carried to the first grade in 1945! When his much-loved grandmother arrives to spend her last days with his family, he can't help but notice that an owl also has taken up residence.

We see a culture clash that involves traditional Mexican ways, witchcraft, Catholicism, and just a bit of secular U.S. Army when his adult brothers return from the war.

We see:
  • Luke Ganalon (television roles) as Antonio, the super-observant first grader who witnesses the fatal actions of an hysterical posse, the bullying of a lonely classmate, the damage wrought by a faithless priest, the inspiration of a wonderful school teacher, and the healing powers of his beloved abuela.
  • Miriam Colon ("The Southside") is Ultima, the healer who is immediately called on to save a young man dying as a result of witchcraft. This actress's career dates back to old Marlon Brando films; she's always been beautiful.
  • Castulo Guerra ("Undocumented") is Tenorio, the firebrand who wants to incite a witch burning. He blames her for his daughters' debauchery.
This story does not shrink away from fatalities, nor does it whitewash the prejudice found in small rural communities. Our little hero is in jeopardy for his life a couple of times and that owl can be pretty fearsome! Guns are fired and people die, but the central family unit survives intact. Whew!

As we left the theater, we discussed the phenomenon of watching an entire movie that has no television sets, refrigerators, telephones, cell phones, or GPS units. However did they survive in those "good old days?"
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Here's the preview:
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