ASU Presents “Bless Me Ultima” at Carson Auditorium

Nathan Crites-Herren
The Paw Print

Generating intense praise from literary critics, “Bless Me Ultíma” Rudolfo Ayana’s novel chronicling the life of a young Mexican-American boy who discovers the unseen jewels of spiritual and medicinal knowledge imparted upon him by his grandmother Ultíma, has been converted into a major motion picture. The film will be showing at ASU on April 5, 6 and 7.

Set in the mysterious “llano” of north central New Mexico, this film brings to life the beauty of the arid environment in which the boy, Antonio (Luke Ganalon) finds himself in shortly after the end of World War II. As the film progresses, spirituality and the enigma of life and death beset Antonio as he comes to grips with Catholicism.

Guiding him through this labyrinth of faith and familial ties is Ultíma, (Miriam Colón) who imparts the sacred cultural ways of the “Curendera” on Antonio.  A unique bond is formed between Ultíma and Antonio as they traverse the open landscapes of the “llano” searching for medicinal herbs.

Synthesizing the values of Catholicism with those of the “Curendera,” the film explores the often overlooked importance of indigenous perspectives that have cemented themselves in the cracks of Latino-based Catholicism. In addition, a sharp distinction is made between the assimilated religious expectations forced upon Latinos in the mid-1940s and the traditional spiritual values secretly guarded from this cultural erosion.

Labeled a witch by many, Ultíma uses a combination of medicinal herbs and spirituality to heal the afflicted. Due to her success in mysteriously healing one patient after another, Ultíma’s reputation precedes her, bringing praise and damnation from all sides. Revealing her healing abilities to Antonio, Ultíma imparts a gift that will forever change him.

Utilizing nature to its fullest, Ultíma brings with her a spiritual guardian which takes the form of a Mexican spotted owl, an extension of her physical and spiritual body.  The owl subtly teaches Antonio about the connection between nature and the spirituality that envelopes all living beings.

Using the idea of witchcraft to explore what it means to be a “Curendera,” the film sheds the rather widely accepted idea that witchcraft is somehow bad. In addition, the film explores the duality of righteousness and evil that has no fixed definitions or borders. The “Curanderismo” of Ultíma revolves around righteousness, which must defend itself against the evil of the world.

In the film, this evil manifests itself in the form of Tenorio (Castulo Guerra), who blames Ultíma for the mysterious death of his two daughters. Engaging in a crusade of misguided revenge, Tenorio represents the reactionary forces of a society that will not open their consciousness to the real power of spiritual energy.

All viewings of “Bless Me Ultímawill be held at Carson Auditorium in the SUB.  Dates and times are as follows: Friday April 5 at 6pm, Saturday April 6 at noon and 6pm, and Sunday April 7 at 1pm and 4:30pm. Admission is free for AS+F students, and a ten dollar donation is suggested from all community members. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet