Bless Me, Ultima (2013)
A drama set in New Mexico during WWII, centered on the relationship between a young man and an elderly medicine woman who helps him contend with the battle between good and evil that rages in his village.
Genre : Drama
Country : USA
Luke Ganalon : Antonio
Miriam Colon : Ultima
Benito Martinez : Gabriel
“I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful.”
A simple and beautiful imaged coming-of-age story. The film is based on a novel by Rudolfo Anaya, an American author and one of the founders of modern Chicano literature. Antonio (Luke Ganalon) tells the story of him growing up in New Mexico under the watchful eye of Ultima (Miriam Colon), a curandera or healer. Ultima has knowledge about healing herbs. Most people see her as a person who possesses supernatural powers and cures diseases caused by evil spirits. Those diseases are believed to be a punishment from God. Others see Ultima as a kind of witch ( Bruja ) who can transform into an owl. Antonio accompanies her while she collects medicinal herbs. He visits with her the sick and begins to understand the connectedness of nature with the process of healing. Even though he never gets an explicit scientific explanation about the healing process, how she casts spells onto witches or why she sometimes decides not to intervene.
Don’t expect a flashy entertaining and action-packed movie. Although the film proceeds in a sluggish manner while creating an image of this community in Guadalupe, the film was able to captivate me. I’ve never read the novel. So I can’t judge whether the film follows the book to a great extent or not. The main part of the film shows the relationship between Ultima and Antonio. You notice immediately that there is a very strong link between those two from the first moment they have met. The fragments where Ultima passes her knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs to Antonio, are beautiful and very emotionally. The moment Ultima is on her way to heal an uncle of Antonio is actually a key moment. There is a curse on him by the daughter of a local resident named Tenorio Trementina. Eventually, Antonio faces a kind of exorcism, followed by the application of a kind of voodoo ritual.
The ongoing theme is Antonio’s Christian faith that is developing, while being confronted with primitive rituals . The moment he celebrates his First Holy Communion and supposedly be one with God, he sees the chance to get an answer on a question about Narciso. The fact that he receives no response ensures that there is doubt about the whole Christian faith. The death of a friend who disbelieves cause there’s been done so much injustice to him, probably also has a big influence.
The acting of Ultima and Antonio by Miriam Colon and Luke Ganalon is excellent and credible. Colon is a female Mexican version of “Gandalf” with a strong personality despite her old age, and a furrowed, tanned face that radiates wisdom. However, the best player is Ganalon. Superb acting. The supporting cast is perfectly chosen.
So if you want to experience a zen-moment among all the other action-packed and exciting movies, then you should try this film.