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The Milagro Beanfield War
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Milagro Beanfield War More at IMDbPro »

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32 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

One of the best. Underrated and unappreciated.

Author: ncmike1 from Waynesville, NC USA
22 October 2005

I lived in Santa Fe, NM for 20 years which is only about 20 miles from Truchas, NM where TMBW was filmed. This movie was right on the money in its portrayal of Northern New Mexico, both in its culture and in its politics. The movie itself is one of the most sublime films I've ever seen in the true sense of the word. It has grandeur of thought, emotion and spirit. It has been bashed in this comment area by those raised on Star Wars, Predator, and the Matrix. To enjoy a movie like TMBW, you have to have a sense of awe, wonder and joy...and a good sense of humor. If you don't, you may get bored. If you do, then you'll find two hours well spent. I obviously love this movie. The music alone will transport you to a pleasant part of your mind, and the absolutely gorgeous New Mexico scenery will make you want to go there to see if it's really real. Try it, you'll like it.

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23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

A thoroughly delightful movie with Oscar winning music!

Author: hwedhlor from Mesa, Arizona
30 September 2004

I watch this movie on VHS every few months just to renew the good feeling it gives me and expect that I'll wear the tape out eventually.

The score won an Oscar for Dave Grusin, yet there is no soundtrack available, which is a real shame. Angel Romero did some great guitar work on this film, and the Milagro Suite is a wonderful piece of music.

The story is funny and poignant, and the movie deserves to be better known than it is, as Robert Redford's direction has produced a film story that is much better than the book. There should be a DVD release of this film.

Highly recommended.

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22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Great movie!

Author: cgp2002 from New York
1 June 2004

Milagro Bean Field War is a truly great film, one of the must see list. Terrific casting and well filmed. It may have been neglected by viewers and critics because it is about a class of people and time and place we often do not take seriously, but it is a sincere and genuine story, well told. The use of the ghost and the pig as foils are delightful, and it is remarkable what a good movie can be like without gratuitous violence, nudity or foul language. However, it should not be assumed that is intended to say this is a bland movie, far from it. It is tasty and spiced well with action, language, and phrasing, not to mention filming. And it is funny, good fun all around. Enjoy!

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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Captures Rural Northern New Mexico Culture

Author: justplainme from Albuquerque
17 October 2004

I agree with "Dawg!" that someone who was not from NM might not get this movie.

I like the Fiddler On The Roof guy, the foothills scenery, my first introduction to Sonja Braga.

The movie does the best job I've ever seen of capturing the essence of small town Northern New Mexico culture - regular folks with regular problems addressing them the best they can. Every culture has its quirky way of addressing life, and this movie depicts this one pretty accurately.

I love it, except for one thing: no DVD.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A wry, dry comic commentary on social values (in the same genre

Author: harperclark ( from Denton, Texas
26 December 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Milagro Beanfield War poses "a reality straining to become a metaphor" to quote a delightful line of Donald Barthelme's. Some refer to this film as a fable -which in the narrow sense it is. But in the broader view this story is in no way mythical because it documents the eternal struggle of the meek and humble against a rapacious power establishment.

Milagro, a 300 year-old village in northern New Mexico, finds itself drying up and blowing away. The Latino inhabitants have been defrauded of their water rights by the political establishment as part of a plan to encourage them to sell out to developer Ladd Devine (Richard Bradford). Devine wants to turn the area into a country club, gated-community.

Fate plunges Joe Mondragon (Chick Vennera) into a pivotal role. The young man quite accidentally taps into the water lateral that crosses his land but to which Devine Development & Company exclusively owns water rights.

The bean field Mondragon inherited from his father has lain dry and barren these many years. Suddenly it has the opportunity to take back life. Should Mondragon shut off the flow of water that illegally irrigates his small farm? Or should he let it flow? It's a tough ethical dilemma. On the one hand he should obey the law -- which is an ass. On the other hand he should protest the moral injustice done to his family, his heritage and his neighbors.

The bean field is not the only thing to come alive. The Latino inhabitants of dying Milagro also find new life of their own. Fiery activist Ruby Archuleta (sexy Sonia Braga in a magnificent portrayal) seizes the moment to mobilize the people of the village. Devine calls in his connections with the governor. This brings the steely-eyed Kyril Montana, a hard-boiled investigator (Christopher Walken), to quell the rebellion. These forces in collision pose a classic plot.

Sounds like a dark and serious tale, no? Surprisingly it's quite the opposite. The vehicle turns out to be a fast-moving, dry comedy very much in the tradition of the popular, war-protest `cult-flick', The King of Hearts.

Cameo roles abound. Ruben Blades plays the Sheriff who sees everyone's point of view and struggles to keep peace between warring factions. John Heard plays a fading 60's activist, Charlie Bloom, who owns the small weekly tabloid that has become an icon in every tumbleweed flick. Anthropology student Herbie Platt (Daniel Stern) comes from NYU on a grant to study indigenous cultures of the Southwest and drops unsuspectingly into the maelstrom.

Carlos Riquelme steals the show as the octogenarian Amarante Cordova, the oldest man in Milagro. Cordova spends his days and nights talking with his guardian angel that also happens to be the ghost of Joe Mondragon's deceased father. Depending on camera angle, the audience can either see the guardian angel or can be as mystified as Platt, the young anthropologist. Platt intently observes Cordova as the old man sits in front of his hacienda earnestly talking to an empty chair that faces him. An enormous, pink pig (reminiscent of the Empress of Blandings in P. G. Wodehouse lore) follows Cordova everywhere as his most faithful companion.

The Academy gave this movie a well-deserved Oscar for best original music score. Had I been a voting member, I would also have given Carlos Riquelme best actor that year and Sonia Braga best actress. And for best supporting actress? I think the Pig!

You have to be quick! A special charm inspires the kind of laughter that will have you grabbing for the remote to play back many priceless scenes. So many lines are memorable, you will find yourself writing them on a pad.

THE GHOST: `That young man of yours does not realize what he is getting into.'

AMARANTE CORDOVA: `If we all knew what we were getting into, nothing would ever get done!'

So get it done. Go buy this for your video collection. It's a keeper and rates inclusion in that quirky hall of fame called the `cult-flick.'

Four Stars!

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

What a delightful experience....

Author: John-304 from Midland, Ontario, Canada
15 March 1999

This movie has a wonderful fantasy tone to it. Unlike real life where we take what we get, in this film everything just seems to fall into place as "nature" intended it to. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live in that world? A definite 10!!!

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15 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Milagro was Excellent!

Author: SpfxArt408 from United States
9 December 2004

The Milagro Beanfield War was excellent! Robert Redford did an excellent job with this movie! It was filmed in a town close to where I live, called Milagro! The settings and the people are true in the movie and live well on the widescreen! The atmosphere in the beginning is awesome and is carried throughout the movie! Much like The Desperado, in setting a mood, with the action and the music! The comedy is great and so is the story! The actors all fit the part well! I am a movie maker and we have several films in the works~~when our first national release comes out soon, I hope it is every bit as good as this one! Definitely a must-see for the movie-goer!

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Charming whimsical movie

Author: arielview (
26 June 2001

I enjoyed this movie, and had never heard of it before I watched it for a class. I was amazed that I hadn't, given the number of stars in it. Christopher Walken, John Heard and Melanie Griffith before they were big names. What I loved most about the film though, was its ambiguity about the extent of "true" magic in the New Mexican town of Milagro. The very fact that the town is named Milagro, Spanish for miracle, suggests a magical quality about the town. Many things happen that could be explained rationally, but are not clarified or suggest the supernatural. When the water from the local river owned by Devine's Miracle Valley site accidentally flows into the Mondragon bean field, ghosts are at work. When Amarante, the oldest man in the village is talking to saints and angels, other people see a senile old man and never imagine that he truly could be talking to ghosts apparent to his eyes only. When crosses mentioning "El Brazo Onofre," the thieving trickster of local lore, Devine and his men assume that its the work of dissenting townspeople, though no one ever admits to the crime or is implicated in any way. These ordinary forms of magic show a charmingly realistic depiction of the supernatural. Even the music, beautifully scored by the talented Dave Gruisin suggests a mysterious air. The music sounds like carnival music, alternating from major to minor keys suddenly and ethereally, just as the elements of nature and reality contort to suit the needs of the "miracle town."

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

well crafted and engrossing

Author: Ethan Kaye from Pennsylvania
21 July 2000

Maybe I'm a little biased, but any movie where Christopher Walken pops up when you don't expect him to just becomes ten times better. His role isn't big, but it's very important and he does a great job. I like Christopher Walken.

But he's only a small part of a great movie. "Milagro Beanfield War" is about a group of New Mexicans trying to save their homes from being bought by developers who want to turn it into a resort. The interaction between the townspeople is wonderful, and you probably won't find this kind of community spirit in any other movie. At some times it's touching, at others it's humorous. In fact it was a funnier movie than I expected it to be, so if you're looking for a mix of light comedy and serious subject matter, this is for you.

You can find a downside to most films, but it's tough to find one with "Milagro Beanfield War". The directing is great, the script is great, the actors are endearing, the music is great and it makes you think and feel like no other movie.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

The DVD is out-enjoy!!!!!

Author: popzit from Atlanta
4 June 2005

The other reviews detail the opinions of others and the plot outline, so I won't duplicate their efforts. The movie has always been one of my favorites since I first saw it in the theatres and the dearth of a DVD version has saddened me for many years. With the release of a DVD, the wait is now over. I have owned, and wore out, several VHS copies of the movie, and they all had a kind of "fog" surrounding the video presentation. I could never figure that out. On the other hand, the DVD producers have managed to make the DVD version with a crystal-clear video presentation and very acceptable audio presentation. In addition, the Dave Grusin soundtrack is superbly reproduced. Thanks to those who took the time to let "our" wishes for a DVD become known to the studio, and special thanks to the producers who took some extra time to give this film it's due.

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