“Bless Me, Ultima,” based on Rudolfo Anaya’s best-selling Chicano novel of all time, will be released to more than 200 theaters across the nation this February 22.
The film adaptation of Bless Me, Ultima, rated PG-13, is an important milestone in movies with topics focusing on Latino families since this Mexican-American coming-of-age book has been banned or challenged from being taught at many schools or offered in some libraries because it contains adult language. The movie version now brings this important story to a new audience and in a new medium that allows Anaya’s characters to truly shine.
I received a screener copy of the movie and, not having had a chance to read the book yet, was mesmerized by the beautiful relationship between Antonio, 6, and Ultima, the curandera (medicine woman) that helped him come to this world and has remained his spiritual guide.
The character of Ultima brought me back to my days in Mexico and of meeting so many special people like her that embodied the spiritual richness and contrasts of the country. Ultima is a healer, a mentor, a wise woman that bridges the physical, natural and spiritual worlds. She’s also a fierce warrior and defender of that which is “good” and sacred.
Antonio is the youngest boy of a large farming family in New Mexico. He’s witness to the changing times in the 1940’s World War II New Mexico landscape. He’s finding his way through a juxtaposition between his family’s values, his culture, religion, Mexican and Native American traditions and the spiritual/mystical teachings of Ultima or “La Grande” as she’s called by Antonio’s family. He’s confronted with the realities of death, revenge, compassion, love and, ultimately, of finding your true self while having faith in your beliefs and navigating both the dark and light forces inherent in human nature.
Bless Me, Ultima, directed by Carl Frankin, gives modern audiences a peek into the life of traditional Mexican American families in the most quiet and subtle of ways. There are no stereotypes, no judgements, no caricature moments. There is plenty of corazón.
I will not spoil the movie’s plot for you, but I do urge you to check out if it’s playing in a theater near you and to go watch it this opening weekend. These are the types of movies Latino audiences need more of and the only way studios will invest in them is if we show we’ll pay to watch them.
Check out the official trailer below and share with your friends and family.