7.0/10
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16 user 6 critic

Cabeza de Vaca (1990)

A handful of survivors from a disastrous 1528 Spanish expedition to Florida journey across the coast until they reach Mexico.
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Juan Diego ... Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
Daniel Giménez Cacho ... Dorantes
Roberto Sosa ... Cascabel / Araino
Carlos Castañón Carlos Castañón ... Castillo
Gerardo Villarreal Gerardo Villarreal ... Estebanico
Roberto Cobo ... Lozoya (as Roberto 'Calambres' Cobo)
José Flores José Flores ... Malacosa
Eli 'Chupadera' Machuca Eli 'Chupadera' Machuca ... Sorcerer
Farnesio de Bernal Farnesio de Bernal ... Fray Suárez
Josefina Echánove ... Anciana Avavar
Max Kerlow ... Man in Armor
Óscar Yoldi Óscar Yoldi ... Esquivel
Ramón Barragán Ramón Barragán ... Pánfilo de Narváez
Julio Solórzano Foppa Julio Solórzano Foppa ... Alcaraz
Javier Escobar Villarreal Javier Escobar Villarreal ... Young Iguase Indian
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Storyline

An international award winning saga of old Mexico. In 1528, a Spanish expedition founders off the coast of Florida with 600 lives lost. One survivor, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, roams across the American continent searching for his Spanish comrades. Instead, he discovers the Iguase, an ancient Indian tribe. Over the next eight years, Cabeza de Vaca learns their mystical and mysterious culture, becoming a healer and a leader. But soon this New World collides with the Old World as Spanish conquistadors seek to enslave the Indians, and Cabeza de Vaca must confront his own people and his past. Written by Concorde - New Horizons (with permission).

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [France]

Country:

Mexico | Spain | USA | UK

Language:

Spanish | Latin

Release Date:

17 April 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cabeça de Vaca See more »

Filming Locations:

Coahuíla, Mexico See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$789,127
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The huge figure of a naked man wielding a club which is created by the Indian sorcerer is an accurate representation of the ancient Celtic chalk carving known as the Cerne Abbas Giant, which is 60 metres in height and is located on a hillside overlooking the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset, England. See more »

Connections

Featured in Conquistadors (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sorcerers and dwarfs in Mexico
25 September 2004 | by film-criticSee all my reviews

After watching this movie, I had to do some research on it. I had learned that this was a true story, but I didn't know anything about what it may be about or who the major players were. What I did discover was that this film was somewhat factually wrong. I hated to read that because this was a very powerful film. This was one of the only films that I have ever watched that used less "known" words, and more violence to carry the message. Perhaps violence isn't the best word, but this film was filled with violent images countered with images of faith and healing. Apparently when Vaca returned to Spain, he wrote some letters to the King describing what he had seen during the eight years on the uncharted land. This was the basis for this film, but according to most, this film left out too much, and took rights to other parts of Vaca's adventure. For example, although the long sequence early in the movie showing Cabeza de Vaca's period of slavery to the Indian sorcerer and the armless dwarf is quite interesting to see, there is no corresponding incident in the explorer's writings. Vaca did report on a brief period of enslavement, but that is all. No sorcerer, no dwarf (...damn...).

This film is a transitional movie. At first, we are to feel sorry for Vaca and what is happening to him. Watching the dwarf and sorcerer make fun of him and force him to do painful duties. We are made to feel sympathetic for this man that seemingly is loosing strength and mental power daily. Then, we hit the big moment. When Vaca becomes the healer and befriends the Indian, we feel less sympathetic, and for me, more confused. Did Vaca want to leave this place? Near the end, the answer becomes even more shaded. I would think that someone that feels so strongly about a community that he has spent eight years of his life with would do more than just go back and hope that his new 'family' is not captured. Vaca, in this film, took the cheap route. The final scene is a very gripping moment in our history. Vaca is forced to help bring Christianity to this natives. To demolish their world and form of religion and bring in Western civilization. Vaca sees this and cries, but then STILL does nothing. He apparently has the power to bring people to life, but destroy a church is well out of his grasp.

The last scene is of enslaved Indians carrying a Christian cross across the desert. This represent the beginning of the end of most of the Indian's beliefs that have been them for thousands of years. The beginning of the corruption and the force to bring certain beliefs to everyone. Very sad ending.

Overall, a decent film that still carries a strong message even today. While the cinematography seems choppy at times, it is worth the wait to witness the human destruction near the end. I suggest this to anyone that needs a moment to see the path of 'our' people.

Grade: *** out of *****


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