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Cabeza de Vaca Movie Review

nicolas guillermo echevarria film

I'm always leery of movies with the proviso “Patient viewers will be rewarded.” That usually means that I will feel bored and guilty for 90 to 120 minutes, wondering what in the world is happening onscreen that is so blazingly wonderful. Cabeza de Vaca has received some nice notices from Daily Variety, the Village Voice, the L.A. Times, and Time magazine, but I felt like I wandered into Ethnography 101 by mistake. There is no character you can care about one way or the other with the exception of a short guy with no arms who yells a lot. The action takes place in the early 16th century and revolves around a Spanish explorer who lives among the Indians for eight years. There is more blood than dialogue in the movie, a bit of magic here and there, and the obligatory bare chest whenever a rare female drifts into focus. Thinking that the film might appeal more to men than to women, I asked for another opinion from a male viewer, but Cabeza de Vaca left him equally cold. The film on video may very well succeed in attracting a receptive audience who will appreciate this epic, which has been described as a Mexican Dances with Wolves.

1990 (R) 111m/C MX SP Juan Diego, Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Roberto Sosa, Carlos Castanon, Gerardo Villarreal, Roberto Cobo, Jose Flores, Ramon Barragan; D: Nicolas Echevarria; W: Guillermo Sheridan, Nicolas Echevarria; C: Guillermo Navarro; M: Mario Lavista. VHS

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