Bless Me, Ultima (2013) Poster

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This is supposed to be magical
aharmas23 March 2013
Warning: 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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Melinda P7 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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A movie about growing up with the drama and love within the Mexican culture
roy-rodriguez548 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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Best movie about our culture since Salt of the Earth
mmontoyasw21 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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It was pretty good
koltpride1711 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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Boy and his Grandma
billcr1228 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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A boy's study of human faith and its good and bad.
Reno Rangan25 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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such a simple story, so well told
A_Different_Drummer4 February 2014
Warning: 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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Bless Me, Ultima 2012
Nitaino Rico27 October 2012
My friend Rico who was the set deginer for this film was very excited over Miriam Colon being the lead for this film. Both Rico and I are New Yorkricans and Miriam Colon was for the longest part of the theater scene in New York. I must confess, every single time I saw Miriam in a scene she absolutely moved me to tears! Boy was I happy the theater was dark! Her delivery was so amazing, the character of Ultima was brought to life with such honesty, compassion and realism I was totally blown away! The period customs and home scenes were absolutely breath taking! I was a young child in Puerto Rico's mid to late 50's. We took trips back to my grandparents who were still at the farm in those days almost every weekend. The scenes of the home, the furnishings, the relationships between each other, the time of harvest at the Luna's farm was like being in a time machine and watching my relations all over again! If you feel like being enchanted, I hope this movies does it for you as it did for me! I love you Miriam Colon! Cast and crew, you rock!!!
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Solid but missing a key theme
shannonliam-1781929 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
After having read the book, I made the rational assumption that the movie would at least try to convey the main themes expressed in the book. Although an entertaining coming of age film, it failed to address, arguably, the most important theme in the book, Antonio's struggle to find his identity. For starters, the narrator in the movie was a grown man. As the audience, I found it hard to connect this man's voice with the thoughts inside the head of an 8 year old. If a young boy was used as a narrator, I believe Antonio's inner conflicts while coming of age would have been better represented. In Addition, Franklin left out all the scenes that built upon Antonio's cultural and religious conflicts such as the golden carp and the dream of his birth. However, although he left an important theme out, Franklin was successful in conveying other themes. In the book, the connection between one's spirit and the spirit of nature was very prevalent. Franklin did a great job at illustrating this by using many diegetic and non-diegetic nature sounds along with scene-opening long shots to show the natural surroundings. Moreover, Franklin did a great job conveying the magical powers of Ultima and her owl. A director could easily go overboard on the magic portion of the story and turn it in to a total fantasy, Franklin kept it subtle. For example, during the scene when Antonio and Ultima are preparing to lift the curse laid upon his uncle, Antonio feels safe when he hears Ultima's owl outside scaring away the wolves. Instead of actually showing an owl scaring away a pack of wolves, we are able to just imagine it which keeps it from becoming too fantasized. After the curse is lifted, the owl appears in the bedroom window to show that it has been protecting them throughout the night. All in all, although Franklin missed a key theme, his execution of the rest of the story made up for it.
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The movie wasn't too bad.
Dane Mathews29 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Carl Franklin did an admirable job in "Bless Me, Ultima". The movie itself followed the book correctly which is what I like in a movie. But that is not the wow-factor that made this movie stand out in my opinion. Franklin's use of Diegetic Sound and Extreme Long Shots really allowed the setting to stand out visually, audibly and perhaps emotionally. The land is one of the most treasured factors of the book and is made important in the movie as well. The ambiance is inordinately imperative and consequential in any movie but more so in this movie. Franklin's use of Diegetic Sound is just outright prodigious. He allows the setting to stand out not only visually, but audibly. These scant yet meaningful sounds that allow the land to really protrude through the stereotypical meaning of a setting to almost make the land come to life. In the book, the "llano" was one of the biggest components. The way Franklin also avails Extreme Long Shots very well. At almost every conversion there is an Extreme Long Shot so the audience can see the land at numerous angles, to really seize the importance of the land to its people. More so when Ultima and Antonio pick out herbs there are multiple Extreme or Normal Long Shots so the audience can get a great glimpse of the "llano". Those two aspects of the film are really what stood out to me in the audience because of how detailed each transition was along with the sound quality to make the land really speak for itself.
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Overly familiar coming-of-age tale
Roland E. Zwick1 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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A Major Disappointment
josephtome196415 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The novel, which has become a staple of high-school lesson plans and thus qualifies as Great Literature, deserves all the plaudits that have been heaped upon it. I read the work for the first time a few years ago and found it very moving. Like To Kill a Mockingbird (to which it has often been compared), its deceptively simple coming-of-age tale is the prism through which we are allowed a view of a larger picture: the merging of a mystically-inclined Native American way of life and more establishmentarian (and yet, in its way, even more superstitious) Catholic Hispanic culture, as well as the impact encroaching modernity has on both. Moreover, the story explored, through the relationship between young Antonio and the wise old curandera Ultima, the meaning of the connections human beings have with one another and the natural world of which they are a part, all beautifully weaved together by the skill of the author Rudolfo Anaya. (I will also add that, when I read the novel, its simple but powerful evocation of a distant time and place, the love between a growing and inquisitive boy and the old woman who effectively serves as his grandmother, and the neo-pagan lessons she imparts all helped me through a tough time, which is certainly one of the blessings of great writing.) So one can imagine my excitement when it was announced a film version was finally in the works and now, after having seen the movie, one may also imagine my disappointment over a work that is barely a shadow of the book. While decidedly earnest and also largely faithful to the source material, the film has none of the magical beauty of the novel. Indeed, the whole enterprise seems misbegotten. I suspect Carl Franklin, a talented director who has made such fine films as One False Move and Devil in a Blue Dress, was the wrong choice for this project. The direction is humdrum and the script he penned is weak, beginning with the idea of having the great Al Molina narrate the story as an adult Antonio. While it's always good to see a film make liberal use of Hispanic actors, every role, other than Miriam Colon as Ultima, seems miscast. The whole movie, for lack of a better description, just lays there, possesses little if any of the wonder over life and love and nature that Anaya made come alive on the page.

In his review, the late Roger Ebert generally praised this film, stating that the movie took its time and did not, as so many other films in this day and age often do, completely dispense with subtlety and over explain everything. While I appreciate his point, I think a film can sometimes be too spare and thus too obscure. It was a mistake, I think, to focus so much on young Antonio and his sometimes confused child's eye view of the world. It would have been enlightening, particularly for those who haven't read the novel, to see more of Ultima and her "magic," her pagan-infused Catholic teachings.

A completely re-written script would have well served this project and the fuller and more subtly complex film that might have resulted would have come closer to capturing what the author conveyed. I missed seeing that golden fish in the river.
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Bless Me, Ultima
Connor Grimes29 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In Carl Franklin's depiction of Rudolfo Anaya's critically acclaimed novel Bless Me, Ultima, Franklin uses some techniques to convey the theme of nature. Although Franklin effectively uses a lot of techniques in the film, it is very overwhelming and distracts the audience from the story. Franklin's film follows a young boy Antonio and his journey through childhood, he is split between understanding what to believe. In contrast to the book, Franklin did not choose to focus on Antonio's choices between which family he should follow. Franklin chose to give the focus to Antonio and his connection to Ultima and nature. He effectively uses transition and scale techniques to illustrate the connection between Antonio with Ultima. For example, the first time you see Ultima and Antonio together there is a burn in and out transition between the two as they give gracious glares to each other. Franklin gives the introduction between them like they were mother and son, almost as they knew everything about each other already. Also as Antonio is guided by Ultima through childhood, many scenes have Antonio walking away with an owl looking over. The owl is representing Ultima watching over Antonio as he leaves home. Franklin lets the audience feel the guidance of Ultima over Antonio throughout the movie thoroughly. Franklin used some different techniques as he tried to also illustrates Antonio's connection to nature. Using techniques like the diegetic sound and foreground shots made the feeling of nature overwhelming in important scenes. For example, as the people of the town are ready to blow away Lupito, Antonio watches. Franklin puts him in the foreground of the scene putting the river and bushes more in focus. It intentionally pulls the attention of the viewers seeing Antonio witnessing a death to a scene of a man dieing. The audience doesn't feel the full effect of the event has on Antonio. The attention is also pulled away from Antonio witnessing a death when Narciso is killed. Franklin films this scene through a heavy rainstorm, using nature again to distract the audience. Franklin was able to effectively use techniques to convey certain themes to the audience, but a lot of the techniques were useless and distracting to the interpreted themes of the movie.
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Effective Uses of Film Techniques
Krabs is a _____29 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Rudolfo Anaya's novel, Bless Me, Ultima, incorporated many interpretative scene left to the minds of the readers. The film version of the book, directed by Carl Franklin, attempted to bring the scenes to life, and portray Anaya's visions of the book. Throughout his film, Franklin utilized diegetic and non-diegetic sounds, in addition to camera placements to represent certain emotions or certain character-related symbols. The cogitated uses of sound are extraordinary, and work wonders for the film, as he combines non-diegetic sounds with diegetic sounds to give a deeper meaning. All non-diegetic sounds, such as the soundtrack, are gently placed into the film, and are gradual in volume and emotion. The diegetic sounds are placed smoothly in the background to emphasize aspects, namely the symbol of the river and the land. As we follow Antonio, the main character, on his coming-of-age journey, we are delightfully overcome with the sense of adventure due to the sounds played. In addition to the sounds, Franklin uses wonderfully placed camera angles that place the viewer in with the characters, and affect us as emotionally as it does with the protagonists. Many times through the film, we are looking from over Antonio's shoulder, looking up at someone. This is significant with the coming-of-age aspect to the film, and even more so towards the end when Antonio finds himself. He becomes something more to everyone around him, and his new found strength places his shots above others.

While this film had noteworthy scenes, I was a bit surprised at it's disobedience toward the novel. I feel there were many important scenes in the book that were significant to Antonio's struggles, as well as his aging process. Things like the Golden Carp were too big to leave out it seemed, though Franklin found a way. Otherwise, the film was enjoyable.

--Jared M--
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The Earth and the Lunas
Julian M.29 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Carl Franklin uses the sounds of nature as well as changes in the soundtrack to emphasize the theme of the film, the connection between the characters and Earth. Franklin's use of long shots also portray those connections stronger, like when Tenorio had murdered Narciso and left him under the juniper tree in the rain. The perspective allows the audience to view the man's being of one with the earth, with Antonio's house in the background, and the weather portraying the mood. On the other hand, when Antonio meets with Ultima, he feels his connection with her and the Earth, and the sun is faded into in the shot, so while the sun encourages the hope Antonio has in God in doing right, bad weather usually signifies the opposite. Franklin uses this subtle effect to form the conflict Antonio faces inside. The music ties in with that effect, where an uplifting soundtrack that is original to the culture of the characters plays when hope is in sight, and the soundtrack is drowned out by diegetic sounds used like when Antonio follows Narciso in his struggle to warn Ultima. Carl Franklin uses many methods to pursue the theme of his film, but what brings the film down for me is the quality of the acting. The film deserved more power in the effect the characters could bring, and the quality of the acting lower that effect. A stronger connection to the actual film from the film could have enhanced the message the director wanted to send, but overall, the film did its part in representing the culture of the setting and the connections shared between the characters, the earth, and religion.
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'Bless Me, Ultima' was an endearing film full of wonder, magic, and family.
Bryan Kluger2 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a huge fan of stories with magical realism in them. One of my favorite novels I've ever read is '100 Years of Solitude', which exudes magical realism from start to finish. I think I am so fascinated by it, because I like to think it exists. That there is some magic in this world, no matter how vague or small it might be, helping us move forward as a society and as humans. When I heard that Rudolfo Anaya's controversial novel of the same name was being adapted to a film, I was instantly intrigued. 'Bless Me, UItima' is a wonderful coming-of-age film with fine filmmaking and at times was quite magical.

This story takes place towards the tail-end of World War II in rural New Mexico and focuses on a loving Hispanic family. We see the world through the eyes of Antonio Marez, a young boy living on his family's farm who is looking for guidance in the world. When a dear family friend and healer moves in by the name of Ultima, young Antonio is entranced by her and the two form a connection to which Ultima teaches Antonio how to respect and love nature and the Earth in order to lead a good life.

Ultima herself knows she doesn't have that much time in the world, so she does everything she can to teach Antonio her knowledge and other-worldly skills. You see, Ultima is viewed by others as a witch who delivers curses upon others. She is accused of cursing her enemies and healing the near-death back to health. The novel goes much deeper into this paranormal and witchcraft like aspect, however this film adaptation directed by Carl Franklin focuses more on the young Antonio going through his boyhood and discovering the light and dark sides of life.

Antonio goes to a strict Catholic school where kids are punished more often that actually getting an education and befriends a kid who does not believe in God. He is picked on in school for being different, intelligent, and having a "witch" living with him. Meanwhile, Tenorio, one of the prominent men in the rural New Mexico town's daughter passes away, to which he blames Ultima for cursing her. This leads him to go on a blind rage and recruit others with literal pitchforks and torches to go on a witch hunt.

On the other hand, the young Antonio sees one of his older brothers who is finally home from the war constantly hanging out at the local brothel and is constantly tormented by Tenorio who wants to kill Ultima and the family she lives with, including Antonio. Now this might seem like an adult movie at times, buy Franklin used a young and light touch while telling this story and is more a coming-of-age film than a paranormal thriller about witchcraft.

Franklin shows us the beautiful landscapes of rural New Mexico, where it was actually filmed throughout the movie, and we get a glimpse of just how beautiful the world is for Antonio, despite the horrific things that are going on around him. It was as if Franklin was conveying that nature and the Earth will always bring us peace. It was beautifully shot. The ensemble cast is decent as well with Benito Martinez being the most known out of the actors, who he plays Antonio's father. Miriam Colon plays Ultima with grace and comes across like a kind and warm grandmother with a very haunting side. She can scare you, then in a flash make you fall in love with her. And Luke Ganalon plays the young Antonio who does a decent job playing the straight and narrow and I'm sure with time will come into his own.

'Bless Me, Ultima' was an endearing film full of wonder, magic, and family. It had a wonderful message, a great cast, and despite the big possibility it not being a giant blockbuster at the box office, I have a feeling that families across the globe will gravitate towards this light-hearted film to show their kids.
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Great Emtional Film
Aven G7 November 2013
Both the movie and the book for Bless Me, Ultima have very intense scenes. The lessons they teach are very relatable. They question elements of morality and social prejudice that really allow you to think deeply about actual life. The movie gets the upper hand in that the music played really intensifies the mood and allows you to feel the emotion behind every single scene that the book is unable to do. The book however is very good as well. Since you actually get to read what is going on, I feel like you can really get a better and deeper understanding of Antonio's thoughts. Reading his narration throughout the whole book allows a reader to get to know him on a very personal level. I felt like I knew Antonio more from reading his thoughts in the book than watching him in the movie. The movie does leave out certain aspects of the book that I feel were very important but nonetheless it did not add any nonsense and followed the storyline pretty well in my opinion.
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Good movie, good book
chrisrapp87 November 2013
Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima is now both a movie and a book. Both describe the process of a child growing up into a man, along with a constant presence of magical realism throughout. The book better described the mood of the story as a whole. In the book you had a first person account of Antonio as he narrates his feelings and describes his thoughts. This narration was a much better way to show the overall mood of the story. The book also included many parts of the story that the movie left out. However, both the movie and the book have their advantages and disadvantages. The movie could visually show you what the book could not. The movie showed and described the characters in person so it brought you closer to the story than the book could have done. A book's descriptions can only go so far, the movie showed you directly. This visual aid helped set the setting a lot better, making the rest of the story easier to understand. From both accounts, the story of Bless Me Ultima was rich in culture and the process of how life works from a boy's eyes. Christopher
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Bless Me, Ultima Review Period 2
Brandon Castillo30 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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Bless Me, Ultima is a good movie that sticks to the source material fairly well.
Noble Price28 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Bless Me, Ultima, directed by Carl Franklin, a film based on the book by the same name, written by Rudolfo Anaya, is a touching, emotional, and thought provoking film about a boy's journey to understand the people and the world around him. The film does a very good job recreating the magical feel the book gives you. Franklin's use of many different film techniques also helps the film immerse the audience. For example, when Antonio and his father, Gabriel, walk outside to confront Tenorio, the film's antagonist, Franklin utilizes a P.O.V. tracking shot to make the audience feel like they're with Antonio and Gabriel as they confront Tenorio. I feel that if Franklin used a different camera angle, it wouldn't have the same effect. Another effective camera technique is when Franklin uses a high angle shot to show Narciso's dead body. This is very effective because it gives the impression that Narciso's death isn't significant, giving the film a much deeper meaning. As for the acting, it was garbage. The actor who played Antonio is too flat, giving Antonio a whiny, brat like impression. The only actor who seemed like they knew how to act was the woman playing Ultima. She gave Ultima a wise, old feel to her, and she looked just as I would imagine Ultima would look. In conclusion, the film adaptation of Bless Me, Ultima, is a good film that sticks to the source material very well. The acting is garbage, excluding a few actors. If you liked the novel, you will most likely like the film.
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Reconciling good vs. evil through the eyes of a child
inspirelead21 March 2013
It is rare for a movie dealing with essential spiritual questions to do it with such grace as this one does. Confronted with the age-old question of why evil exists in the world, the film's central character, Antonio, finds many explanations including those offered but his religious upbringing, those offered by his peers including those of an atheist, and those of his grandmother. The viewer is left to draw his own conclusions from the explanations offered in the film, but some universal truths are offered as part of the explanation: good overcomes evil in the end, we are one with all that is created, and caring and compassion are the most essential callings that each of us can rise to. This movie's strength, however, is that it does not preach its message but allows it to unfold. It is in the viewer's reflections upon what he has seen in the movie that the spiritual messages are finally realized. This movie both entertains and enlightens and encourages thought & reflection, unlike the Sci-Fi violence & mindlessness popular today in other films.
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Outstanding film, particularly if various cultures interest you
vincentlynch-moonoi26 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I was familiar with this title from when I was a school principal and on a committee to deal with challenged books. This was not a book I had been assigned to read, but it was part of the discussions of our group.

If culture and ethnicity interest you, this movie is absolutely terrific. Frankly, one of the best "serious" films I've seen in a very long time. The setting -- rural New Mexico just after WWII -- in itself is rather unique and intriguing. And the way the characters are depicted...well, I just thought how much I would liked to have met that family. Not that all the characters in the film are "good guys", but this depicts Chicano culture in what I would guess is a very realistic and positive way.

The story/plot, which I won't bother to relate here, is fascinating. A very interesting blend of Chicano culture, animism (for wont of a better term), and Catholicism.

The actors here do very nicely, particularly the young boy who is the lead character. I'm not sure I've ever seen a young actor so perfectly portray a character in any movie. I hope we see a lot more of him! Miriam Colon is superb as the old woman/witch.

While this movie is not for everyone, but is for serious movie-goers who like cultural themes, I can't recommend it highly enough! It was one of those rare films where when it finished, everyone stayed to watch all the credits!
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Adult Antonio narrates part of his childhood by telling of his relationship with an older family friend, Ultima, who lived with his family during her later life.
Maria22 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When I read Rodolfo Anaya's book, Bless Me, Ultima, I was enthralled by seeing so many of my ancestors' names, and especially, by the barrio called Puerto De Luna, New Mexico, where my grandfather was born. Actually, my relatives are all from the area seen in the movie. Even though the book is fiction, I couldn't help feeling that I was actually seeing the area as my grandparents and their parents saw it. (I feel that way with almost every book Anaya has written...) Ultima's relationship with little Antonio is magical and full of love; she patiently taught him about life, nature, and relationships while she lived with him and his family.

He tells of his schooldays, skipping a grade, his catechism lessons at church and about being taunted by his friends who call him "the priest" because he learned the religious lessons taught by the priest who didn't always demonstrate love and understanding to some of his students; they even forced him to listen to them "confessing" their sins.

Toward the end of the movie, his tearful request to be blessed by her before burying some of her personal objects brought tears to my eyes, as well.

Bless Me,Ultima is very true to the novel, so it's easy to "lose yourself" in the story. My Anglo husband seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, and I'm sure that everyone who sees it will, also.
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This Movie was OK.
Justin Nelson30 November 2015
In the Book there was a magical feel to it something straight out of a fairy tale, But in this movie Carl Franklin did not capture that at all the locations where great and all and the sound is amazing but that was all that was going for the movie. Each critical moment in the film was backed by some beautiful music to set the mood my Favorite scene was when we first meet Tenorio, Narciso was warning the family about Tenorio and his followers where coming for Ultima because Tenorio thinks Ultima is a Bruja (witch) and killed his daughter with a curse. So at the beginning of the scene Narciso barges in Antonios home with a warning about Tenorio then you can hear an angry mob in the distance then you hear and owl then the music was very worrisome you knew right off the bat something bad was coming and it was coming fast Tony and his father step out into the front yard to confront Tenorio and his followers after a back and forth with Tenorio, Tony and his father are moved aside after Tenorio calls Ultima a Bruja then the owl takes Tenorio's eye. One of a few great scenes in my opinion Over all good book OK movie.
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