Top positive review
131 people found this helpful
A Stunning Achievement!
on October 2, 2007
For some reason the Spanish Conquest, no doubt one of the most important interchanges of culture in history, has not received the kind of cinematic attention as other events such as Rome, Christ or even Vietnam. Mexican director Salvador Carrasco does us a great service here with "The Other Conquest," a visually stunning, powerful take on Hernan Crotes' conquest of Mexico and the consequences of the event which still affect us to this day.
Unlike many historical epics such as "Gladiator," where substance and character take a back seat to spectacle and bombast, "The Other Conquest" is impressive because of its emotional depth and dramatic qualities. Damian Delgado (Men With Guns) gives a riveting performance as Topiltzin, an Aztec scribe who sees his world burn down as foreign invaders raid the Aztec lands, destroy their gods and impose the new religion of Catholicism. Representing the Catholic church is Friar Diego (Jose Carlos Rodriguez) who attempts with all his might to turn Topiltzin into a model Catholic indian. The scenes between these two are sharply written and Carrasco's script has a clear understanding of the spiritual, intellectual struggle of one religion trying to wipe out another one. The other two notable performances are by Elpidia Carrillo (Salvador, Predator) as Tecuichpo, daughter of the slain Aztec Emperor Moctezuma, and Inaki Aierra as the famed conqueror Hernan Cortes (Aierra is the spitting image of the controversial figure). Both also bring passionate intensity to the roles, one could even say raising the bar for the kinds of performances you usually find in historical epics.
There is excellent conflict in the story because this is not a tale of revenge or one army trying to destroy another, here we have actual human beings caught in the tide of history, a history that is deeply touching their personal lives and well-being. This is the only film I can recall that captures on a deep human level the results of the Spanish Conquest. We don't get cartoon characters here. The lush cinematography adds to the effect with it's rich colors and gritty tones. Jorge Reyes and Samuel Zyman's beautiful score is hypnotic and elevates the material, it is a potent mix of classical and indigenous music that transports us to the era of the story with full effect.
"The Other Conquest" is a kind of alternative to the blood spectacle that was Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" which concentrated itself more on being a chase movie with little educational or even dramatic value. Here Carrasco and his team have captured a real sense of authenticity in showing us the Aztec world, it's customs, traditions and those of the Spanish invaders as well. "The Other Conquest" is also a relevant film for our times considering events like Iraq have once again raised the question of one culture imposing itself on another. Even those wondering about the rise of figures like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales in Latin America will see in this story the roots of the social conditions which have brought about these changes and movements. "The Other Conquest" is a grand epic, but a grand epic with heart and a story that has more to it than just the glossy re-creations of a world long gone. A very special film, not to miss.