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Bless Me, Ultima
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Bless Me, Ultima More at IMDbPro »

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20 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Best movie about our culture since Salt of the Earth

Author: mmontoyasw from New Mexico
21 October 2012

Best movie about our gente since Salt of the Earth. Must watch! No clichés here. Just a sweet, subtle, and poignant coming of age story set in the beautiful, but troubled post WWII landscape of northern New Mexico. Few films make you feel like you're reading a novel-- refreshingly, this one does justice to Rudolfo Anaya's timeless classic. The arc climaxes with little fanfare, but you will no doubt be left with a sense of how and why the supernatural, deeply woven into the daily life of these comunidades, helps people navigate the paradoxes of "good" and "evil." In a period when Latinos, as a demographic are coming of age politically, and while at once courted and loathed, Bless Me, Ultima is timely, but also transcendent and universal. Don't miss it!

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

This is supposed to be magical

Author: aharmas from United States
23 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I never read the novel, but I can only assume that it has to be much better than the movie, a film that missed the mark in the way that so many other films dealing with magic/supernatural/unknown have failed. One that comes to mind is the "House of Spirits" with Meryl Street and Glenn Close. There is a case that had the perfect cast, and it failed to hit the target. This movie has also two wonderful leads, and Alfred Molina doing a narration, but it just never comes together. One can admire the extreme care the production has gone through to recreate an era, with its accurate costume and sets, and somehow the script appears to have all the lines in the right place, but the movie just feels quite pedestrian, like a rehearsal, and a bad one...

The story deals with the eternal dilemma of how people perceive that which can't be understood, the different, the strange, even when this helps some of the people that deny it later. We hear words like "evil", "revenge", "witchcraft" being thrown around, and we start associating this with the witch hunting that has terrorized the female population for thousands of years. Add to that a touch of racism and class differences.

It is hard to evaluate an effort of this kind, and it begs to remade again, preferably with a director better suited to this kind of material. There are very few people like Steven Spielberg, who can handle just about any type of material. I kept thinking back to Sergio Leone who could make children's relationships come alive in "Once Upon a Time in America", and even Richard Donner could get some emotions across in his movies, but this one feels like someone left the camera rolling and just whatever.

"Bless the Ultima" must be more than what is projected here. Can someone explain what happened?

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16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A movie about growing up with the drama and love within the Mexican culture

Author: roy-rodriguez54 from El Paso, TX
8 October 2012

A touching, unpretentious story told by a man who reminisces about growing up in a Mexican/American family during the years of WWII in New Mexico. The story focuses on the culture that surrounded such families during that time and depicts the strong bonds that tied them to the land, religion and each other. We are shown small glimpses of how even in their remote part the United States, the war had touched them by taking away their sons to defend our country. The storyline mainly surrounds the accounts of this grown up man (Antonio) as he narrates his view of the world as a child and the huge desire he had to understand everything around him. It depicts the very close bond he forms with a new member of their family and how this person shows him the beauty that life has to offer. This new member is named Ultima and she is a healer (curandera) who cures with herbs and "magic". Ultima is taken in by his parents due to her having nobody else in the late stages of her life.

The story shows the importance that religion played in the Mexican culture and how the taboo of the unknown was shunned by most. Ultima's ability to heal people was not always seen by others as good and the accusations of her being a witch are part of the drama within the story. The toil of daily life and the importance of everyone working together during harvest time reveals the close ties that existed between families at that time. Overall, it is a story that shows how people can get strength from their experiences and grow from the wonders that surround them. If we embrace life and everything that happens, both good and evil, we can have an existence with richer fullness.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Boy and his Grandma

Author: billcr12 from United States
28 September 2013

Ultima is a healer who uses herbs to cure the sick, and she is also called upon to heal a young man who has been cursed by three evil sisters. Her grandson, Antonio, narrates the story throughout, and so we hear an adult voice with the visual of a little boy learning about the meaning of life from Ultima. The acting is excellent; with the two leads really carrying the movie from start to finish. The scenery of New Mexico is beautiful. The First Holy Communion in a small church brought back memories of my Catholic childhood. The doubts of Antonio are well written by someone with a logical outlook on religion. At times the movie became a bit too sentimental for my taste, but I still found it entertaining and worth recommending.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It was pretty good

Author: koltpride17
11 November 2013

Bless Me, Ultima Both the movie and the book expressed a wide view of different moods, details, and analysis. The book took the story one step at a time as the author, Rudolfo Anaya, progressively showed how the main character Antonio developed along with the conflicts of the novel. The book was good with a very detailed insight that made you feel as if you were a part of the book. The movie emphasized the major influences on Antonio as he becomes the age where you decide who and what you are going to be as an adult. The movie was pretty fast paced to fit the whole plot of the book into film, but it did not include the golden carp like it did in the book. This gave Antonio another religion to think about and I think this was very important to the book and the movie did not include it. Also, I like how the book goes into extreme detail to give you a perfect idea to how the story is meant to be portrayed. I liked to see each of the ways that Bless Me Ultima is expressed, but overall, the movie and the book was good.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: Melinda P from United States
7 November 2013

I like the way that in the book for Bless Me, Ultima they really show dichotomy between Antonio's Mom and Dad. Maria wanting Antonio to follow his Luna blood line and Gabriel wanting him to follow his Marez blood. In the book it really show how much conflict there is in his mind of who he wants to become and what he wants to be. However, in the movie I really liked how they showed how Maria and Gabriel still love each other very much no matter what their differences are. In the book they didn't show the love between Maria and Gabriel as well as in the movie.

Watching the movie really helped me imagine what Antonio was going through and his emotions. They did a great job of making this movie and show the conflicts in Antonio's life when he was young. I do recommend this movie for those who have read the book.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Bless Me, Ultima Review Period 2

Author: Brandon Castillo from Oak Park, Illinois
30 November 2015

In the film version of Bless Me, Ultima, Franklin seems to be most heavily influenced by the culture aspect of the book. This is achieved through a native-cultured sounding soundtrack and recurring shots of nature, which are often used as transitions between certain scenes. Franklin captures the innocence and curiosity of Antonio effectively by using many subjective shots throughout the film, which show Antonio's reaction to almost anything happening. This ranges from Lupito's death to simply his reaction of people in the town's market. In nearly every subjective shot, Antonio has the same facial expression that looks as if he is questioning everything he is seeing, and doesn't know what to make of it. However, in return, this leaves Antonio with one main emotion throughout the film (curiosity), which makes his character a tad stale, because his emotions are very rarely clearly explained. This also makes Antonio seem like he's not the main character, as he rarely talks and just listens and follows whoever he is with, unless he is with his friends. The prominence of Religion is captured well by Franklin by keeping Maria's authentic character in the film where she corrects bad behavior and often speaks of God and the Virgin Mary, and by using a strict priest who gives physical punishment and stresses the threat of Hell. Franklin also struggled with transitioning through time smoothly. It was hard to tell how much time was passing between each scene and the movie as a whole, due to the sudden cuts between night and day, and sometimes lack of context clues. In the book, the reader was able to detect that Antonio was slowly starting to think for himself and grow as a person. The film is ineffective at displaying this growth due to showing how Antonio is pondering a situation but not clearly showing how he feels. This remains true throughout the whole film, which leaves the most important character of the story stale and un-dynamic surrounded by characters of less importance that are clearly dynamic.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A boy's study of human faith and its good and bad.

Author: Reno Rangan from Somewhere in the Cosmos
25 August 2014

The film poster says that it was based on the controversial novel. I don't know anything about that, but I feel it was referred like that for the marketing purpose. Anyway, it was a good, an unexpectedly good movie that came my way. Being a fan of the kids movie I loved it very much. Not only that, the diverged story with often the plot that meets fantasy and reality at a certain quantity was told in a great quality. It might be a story of the kid, but many stuffs were cruel and violent that I doubt does it fit for children to watch. As it set during just after the second world war, I think the harsh side of the story was extremely essential. And also being true to the book.

The story was narrated from the character Antonio who takes us back to his childhood days. When he was a 7-year-old kid, he lived in a small village of the New Mexico. He was raised in a farmer family who was well respected in the town. One day an old lady called Ultima comes to join his family to live forth. Soon Antonio and Ultima begin to have a close relationship. As a medicine woman she teaches everything about mending and curing. And as a wise woman she resolves Antonio's doubts over the good and the bad. As a sudden a conflict between Ultima and a witch family from the town begin to take a wing. As a little boy nothing much he can do than witnessing which brings the end of his narration.

''A man's destiny must unfold itself like a flower. With only the sun, earth and water, making it blossom.''

It was from the first book of the four book series. And I am eager to know more about Antonio and his story of the different section of life. Hope they make those remaining 3 movies. This is a coming-of-age story and about a boy who is interested to become a priest which is well backed by his family. At the early age itself, he begins to learn the lessons with the help of the experienced hand. Kind of incredible journey of a little smart boy. The world he sees through his eyes was the story told about the human nature that collide between good and bad. The cast was not recognizable, probably I am seeing all of them for the first time. But the performances were very good. Apart from the boy and an old woman the remaining cast was also good. The movie was shot in the lovely places, captured beautiful dry landscapes, but there were a couple of scenes in the rain. Overall, a great movie, far from exhibiting the existing culture, but conflict remained the same. I feel like I must appreciate author as well this filmmaker to give such a nice movie.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

such a simple story, so well told

Author: DrumboConeybeare from North America
4 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am thinking this is one of those films you either get .. or you don't. This is an astonishingly simple story about a young boy of Mexican extraction set during WW2. Slight of stature but strong of faith, he is old enough to question what adults tell him and at the same time young enough to actually see the truth when it presents itself (a trait most of us lose as we age). His extended family includes Ultima, also known as La Grande, a woman who, depending on your view of the story, is either a very clever local healer and/or a witch and/or a true descendant of the teachers or "nature-priests" that Carlos Castanada made famous in the 60s. The music is haunting. The story is engaging. I doubt I will ever forget this film but if you try it and don't connect with it, that's OK too.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Overly familiar coming-of-age tale

Author: Roland E. Zwick ( from United States
1 October 2013

Based on the 1972 novel by Rudolfo Anaya (a favorite among high school English teachers), "Bless Me, Ultima" is an autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in 1940s New Mexico. The story is narrated by a now-adult Antonio reflecting back on the events that happened to him and his family when he was a little boy. This includes the arrival of Ultima (Miriam Colon), a sort of cultural shaman, who has come to live out her final days with his family. Weather-beaten and leather-skinned, Ultima is filled with old person wisdom and the power to both heal and cast out evil spirits. It is the latter, in particular, that ends up causing trouble with some of the people in the village, who suspect her of being a "bruja."

Written and directed by Carl Franklin, "Bless Me, Ultima" is what "To Kill a Mockingbird" might have been like had Harper Lee seen fit to imbue it with generous touches of Magic Realism (in that version Boo Radley probably would have been an actual ghost). As befits the genre that also brought us "Like Water for Chocolate," "Bless Me, Ultima" comes replete with incantations, magic spells and a Significant Owl that passively observes all the human activity, then swoops in at keys moments of the story to make its presence felt. Antonio is surrounded by adults who are steeped in religious superstition, and he is forced to bear witness to some pretty horrendous actions arising from that fact. But he also learns from Ultima that, while evil may indeed exist in the world, one can overcome it by becoming one with nature and the spirits that inhabit it.

The structure of "Bless Me, Ultima" tends to be episodic and choppy, a situation that leaves a number of plot lines under-served and a number of characters (Antonio's older brothers, for instance) underdeveloped. On the other hand, the wide-eyed Luke Ganalon makes for an appealing and charming Antonio, and Benito Martinez ("The Shield," "Sons of Anarchy") scores as the dad who dreams of one day moving his family to California.

Despite all the supernatural and preternatural touches, "Bless Me, Ultima" feels overall pretty familiar as coming-of-age tales go, but the unusual setting and Ganalon's performance earn it a mild recommendation.

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