A Look at the Symbols in Bless Me Ultima

On Sunday my sister and I took our mom to the movies. This week is her birthday and she has been wanting to see the new movie Bless Me Ultima. The movie is based on a book written by Rudolfo Anaya. The novel took the writer many years to finish, and he is said to have employed spirit guides and his subconscious mind to complete this work. It was published in 1972. The book has been used in classrooms for many years because it is well respected in the world of Chicano literature. I was also very anxious to see the film because I knew it featured a curandera and that it would be filled with love, magic, history, land, nature, herbs, and witches. What’s not to love? A curandera is a female folk healer who uses faith as a weapon. She also employs good magic using herbs, spirit guides, and the power of the natural world around her. The story is not that of Ultima’s. It is the story of a young boy named Antonio Márez y Luna, an outside spectator who is contemplative of many things.

Our Tickets to Bless Me Ultima on 10.28.2012

Photo I took of Ultima “La Grande”
and Antonio in the movie Bless Me Ultima

At first I was surprised to learn that the movie was two hours long. I must say that there was not one moment of the movie that didn’t capture me completely. We laughed and we cried as a New Mexico story graced the big screen in a way that I have never seen. I have one of the original runs of Anaya’s book. When I was a girl I remember reading the book in school, and in college we did chapter studies. I felt that the film flawlessly embodied and conveyed the heart of the original story. We all loved the film. I always feel so blessed to have people in my life who understand me. As we left the theater, I explained to my mom and my sister that I was taking notes on my phone. My mom said “I know,” and my sister said “I figured.” In some movies I have attempted to take in a notebook, but it is hard to see what you are writing in the dark and have found it much easier to jot down thoughts in draft form on my phone. One day I aspire to complete a full literary analysis of this novel, but for tonight I will deliver the symbols I derived from the film.

Photo I took of the funeral procession
of a Trementina witch sister
in the movie Bless Me Ultima

When we were leaving I told my mom that I saw so many symbols in this film. I adore my mature and intense mind. My mom was very curious about the symbols I saw, so I dedicate this to her. Maybe with any luck I will make her and my sister just as crazy as I am! If you have or haven’t seen the film, or even if you have only read the book, look deeper. In my mind, symbolism is about connection. A symbol is a connection~ usually from sight to an object or idea (with the mind)~ to a feeling (with the heart)~ and then ultimately to a person, place or thing. Following are the symbols I ascertained from Bless Me Ultima. This was not Ultima’s story, however, she embraced symbolism like no other character in Anaya’s novel does. The end of the movie brings the strongest and most poignant quote. When “La Grande” dies, Antonio laid her to rest and said “I did not cry~ her voice is everywhere.” The quote confirms a connection of all symbols in the book and film.

Symbols in the Movie

Ultima or “La Grande”~ was a symbol of love, sacrifice, life, death, land, faith, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, nature, power, protection, knowledge, tradition, and healing

Ultima’s Owl~ was a symbol of protection and sacrifice

The Moon~ was a symbol of mystery, land, time, magic, and knowledge

The River, Rain and Water~ were symbols of life, death, healing, abundance, and the seasons

The Land, Herbs, and Farming~ were symbols of home, family, tradition, knowledge, continuity, and healing

The War~ was a symbol of evil, change, vice, and sin

Death~ was a symbol of fear, evil, mortality, and immortality

Religion~ was a symbol of connection and disconnection

Explore posts in the same categories: Allusion, Analysis, Authors, Bird and Feather Symbols, Books, Children, Connection, Culture, Feather Symbols, Folklore, Healing, History, Immortality, Knowledge, Moon Signs, Mortality, Movie Review, Movies, Natural Healing, New Mexico, Reviews, Spiritual, Symbols and Imagery, Water Symbol, Women, World War II, Worthy Reads, Writers, Writing

4 Comments on “A Look at the Symbols in Bless Me Ultima”

  1. Gloria Says:

    Thank you to both my lovely daughters for taking the time to share such special time and memories together. The movie was great and very powerful. Makes us thankful for the important things in our life and no, it does not include material items.

  2. Steve Ganalon Says:

    I enjoyed reading your notes on the movie. I encourage you to share them on the BMU Movie Fan Page on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/BlessMeUltimaMovie?fref=ts


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