Based upon a novel by Mexican-American author Rudolfo Anaya, “Bless me, Ultima” is the story of a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II and his relationship with a curandera (healer) named Ultima.
With Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colon Valle as Ultima, the film deals at once with the supernatural, the power of the earth itself, and the doctrine of Catholicism. Ultima is an older and wise woman who has learned to use the gifts from the earth, the plants, to heal the community, but more than that, she seems to have special powers and folk magic that help her benefit others.
Antonio, played by 11-year-old Southern Californian Luke Ganalon, struggles to understand the powers that he sees in Ultima and how they relate to the religious beliefs that he has learned from his mother and the Church. Like him, the viewer is moved to think about the spiritual world and its relation to religious doctrine.
“Bless me, Ultima” was shot in location in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the scenery becomes another character in the story. “The environmental is quite dramatic in terms of the dust, the dryness, the beauty, the cold, the heat,” said director Carl Franklin. “It has dramatic landscapes, vast panoramas, the population in comparison to land mass.”
Argentinean actor Castulo Guerra, who plays one of the evil characters in the film - Tenorio Trementina - said that “New Mexico is a magical place and is the perfect background for a perfectly magical story.”
Rudolfo Anaya’s novel has sold over 1.5 million copies and has been translated into many languages. And Anaya feels that Franklin “nailed” the transferring of his story to the big screen.
“Bless me, Ultima” is PG-13 due to some violence and sexual references. It is now showing in theaters all over town. Learn more about it at www.blessmeultima.com