This is one of the best telenovelas of all time, with fine performances by all the actors in a story filled with many themes that recur both in novelas in general and particularly in the work of Caridad Bravo Adams.
When Christina Alvarez becomes pregnant by her lover Diego (who is only the foreman on her family's estate) her father forces her into exile with Raquela, a maid of the same age, to cover it up. She gives birth to a healthy baby girl whom he takes away from her, registers as Raquela's, and then pays Raquela to disappear with the baby. Raquela falls into the hands of Federico Rivera who uses the knowledge of the baby's parentage to coerce Christina into marrying him. Christina's father dies, her mother loses her mind (in a manner similar to Scarlett O'Hara's father in "Gone With The Wind"), and Federico denies her the right to claim her daughter because he intends to run for public office.
Several tragedies and fifteen years later Maria del Carmen is still unaware that Christina (who is now blind) is her real mother. Christina is afraid to tell her the truth while Maria del Carmen comes of age and becomes the object of romantic attention from Carlos Manuel Rivera and José Maria Montes as well as the object of Federico's sexual obsession.
César Evora is clearly one of Televisa's finest actors, playing any sort of character with apparent ease and obvious finesse. His Federico is one of the most evil of novela villains, exceeded possibly by Atilio Montenegro in "Mariana de la Noche". The sexual obsession he develops for Maria del Carmen is one of the creepiest things in this story since not only does he know her from birth, but also because both of the two earnest young men who genuinely love her are his (illegitimate) sons. Fernando Colunga and Pablo Montero as the two sons are noble and worthy competitors for the love of Maria del Carmen. We feel both of their pain through this story as they deal with the cruel hand of fate and the evil machinations of others as they both attempt to protect and win Maria del Carmen. If you are familiar with the author's other work, you know how this will ultimately turn out. Joaquin Cordero, who appears only in the story's prologue, provides a powerful presence as Christina's controlling father and Osvaldo Rios (complete with Fabio-style hair and physique) is the honorable and studly Diego.
The female players are also noteworthy, starting with Victoria Ruffo as the long-suffering Christina (her stereotypical character), and Nailia Norvind as the evil Deborah who marries one of the aforementioned gentleman while cheating on him with another and attempting to seduce the third. Supporting players include Carmen Salinas in her trademark role as a tragic mother and Rossana San Juan as the maid Raquela, whom we sometimes can't quite figure out.
This program swept the novela awards for the year for the leading and supporting actors, director, theme song, and other categories. It will be remade again someday, I'm sure.
Edited to add: The truncated DVD is missing a few key scenes that aid understanding of this story in addition to the extraneous subplots. If you want to see this great story, I recommend writing to Univision asking that they show it in Late Night or on one of their other networks.
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