It is May 1520 in the vast Aztec Empire one year after the Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortés' arrival in Mexico. "The Other Conquest" opens with the infamous massacre of the Aztecs at the ...
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It is May 1520 in the vast Aztec Empire one year after the Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortés' arrival in Mexico. "The Other Conquest" opens with the infamous massacre of the Aztecs at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan [what is now called Mexico City]. The sacred grounds are covered with the countless bodies of priests and nobility slaughtered by the Spanish Armies under Cortés' command. The lone Aztec survivor of the massacre is a young Indian scribe named Topiltzin [Damián Delgado]. Topiltzin, who is the illegitimate son of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma, survives the onslaught by burying himself under a stack of bodies. As if awakening from a dream, the young man rises from among the dead to find his mother murdered, the Spanish in power and the dawn of a new era in his native land. A New World with new leaders, language, customs... and God. Representing the New Order is the Spanish Friar Diego [José Carlos Rodríguez]. His mission is to convert the "savage" natives into civilised ... Written by
Dennis Davidson Associates (DDA)
A brilliant first film that touches the viewer on many levels.
Most of us see different films for different reasons; escape to other places or times, a couple of hours of laughter or beautiful cinematography, a chance to look at people who are like no one we know (or exactly like someone we know), a chance to hear some beautiful new music while watching an exciting drama unfold, or perhaps an important lesson about life or history or even about ourselves. Rarely do all these elements come together in one film, but this is the case with La Otra Conquista.
There is no need to belabor the narrative since so many others have done that here, but even that is refreshing since I don't remember another film that looks at the conquest of this continent from the point of view of those who were here first. It is one of the few times they are not portrayed as a bunch of happy slappy childlike natives or murderin' savages out to rape the virginal white women.
It is an amazing achievement in so many ways. After the years of struggle and the unbelievably huge obstacles in the path of this dramatization of the last days of the great Aztec empire it's a wonder it was ever completed. It's almost as if forces were still, even now, trying to stamp out their history and their story. But despite the small budget, the years of piece-by-piece shooting, and those who wanted the shameful, dead past to stay dead, La Otra Conquista was made.
I am listening to the soundtrack as I write this, and the music is as haunting as it was the first time I heard it. The theme that recurs throughout the film appears again and again, sometimes sounding like a monks' plainsong, sometimes like a sacred wise man's chant, until finally it becomes a painful, funereal dirge crying out for the lost past. The music alone made the film worth seeing; nothing like the voice of Placido Domingo to make people sit still and be quiet while the credits are rolling!
I can only add this: Unless you need your films dumb and lightweight and meaningless, you owe it to yourself to see what was Mexico's biggest home grown hit in history and should have been that country's entry in the Academy Awards. Ironically, the very subject of the film makes it clear why this didn't happen: Our past is always with us. See it if you're lucky enough.
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