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The Other Conquest

This epic melodrama traces the 16th century Spanish conquest of Mexico through the eyes of one Aztec scribe named Topiltzin (Damián Delgado). Director Salvador Carrasco has constructed a sweeping and quite beautifully shot costume drama on a shoestring budget. Monetary constraints show through only in crowd scenes, which seem slightly underpopulated. The plot has our resolute hero shipped off to a monastery where he falls under the alternate control of a conflicted priest and a brutal military leader. At first, our protagonist resists conversion, but soon becomes obsessed with the Virgin Mary. The film tries to equate the BVM with the Aztec mother goddess, thereby allowing Topiltzin to retain a bit of his cultural dignity. But in the end, the wall-to-wall religious symbolism seems to come down rather heavily on the Catholic side of things. In Spanish and Náhuatl with English subtitles. 105 minutes R.