Understated Ultima: Iconic book gets worthy film treatment

Although it was published only in 1972, Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima has achieved the iconic stature as such novels as The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a MockingbirdNow comes a movie to do it justice. Carl Franklin's film is true to the tone and spirit of the book. It is patient and in no hurry. It allows a balanced eye for the people in its hero's family who tug him one way and another.  


I can imagine the pressures that Franklin and his team must have experienced in making the film their way. Bless Me, Ultima is filled with elements ripe for exploitation. There are magical spells and demonic possession, and a sequence where Ultima (Miriam Colon) takes along the boy (Luke Ganalon) to gather secret herbs and prepare a potion to drive an evil spirit from the body of another man's son. The potion works, and after a terrifying struggle, the victim coughs out the spirit, which takes the form of a nasty little globe with wriggling black tendrils, still alive. Full review.