CABEZA DE VACA
DIRECTOR: NICHOLAS ECHEVARRIA
CINEMATOGRAPHY: GUILLERMO NAVARRO
MUSIC: MARIO LAVISTA
CAST: Juan Diego, Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Roberto Sosa, Carlos Castanon, Gerard Villareal, Roberto Cobo
ONE WORD: Great film. Well thought out.
Some films defy description, and stand out for being what they are ... GREAT TRIUMPHS OF VISION over anything else that any film can present. CABEZA DE VACA, is just such a film. And while it is at it, it even gets to ( very subtly so ) get its digs in towards the imperialistic forces that are destroying the indians and the forests..... one couldn't ask for more...
This film is based on the diary of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, who went into the Florida keys and for eight years and became a legend as a healer and man of faith in life. And the film is a representation of the faithful man who was a priest, and became a true man of faith, with attributes which are legendary.
And while the film stays away from much opinion, and the work of the spaniard invaders, the total spotlight is on the local indians (the film was done in latin america with real tribes of various indigenous species which are victims of progress ...) and their ways. And specially the medicine man and little friend he makes along the way. This medicine man obviously recognizes the great talent this man of faith has, and brings him along in a few expeditions to attempt to cure a few. And Alvar succeeds in a few spaces where many have failed. But he can't overcome the arrival of the spaniards like he was, who are coming to destroy everything. His last act of saving grace is to send a few of the indians away, so they will not be captured. It doesn't work. They are captured as slaves.
The film is not a technical marvel by any means, but is a really well thought out, and Echevarria is certainly well versed in the medicine arts which he films. He has an exceptional feel for it, and makes these men appear as the truest spirit people. The film is very powerful when the medicine man does his thing, and even more so, when Alvar comes to see the energies of the life forces and is capable of healing with it. But he can't heal the forces of the spaniard which are coming, as he once was.
With fabulous acting by the indigenous people ( well, real stuff ... ) and a very good lead, this film is really nice to watch, and a treat for those who like to watch true spirit work doing its thing. No ceremony has ever been like this ....
Copyright (c) Pedro Sena 1994
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