Forgiveness vs. bitterness
Enrique Torres | San Diegotitlan, Califas | 12/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Maria Felix had the ability then and now to captivate it's audience with the wrinkle of an eyebrow, a penetrating stare that was telepathic, a look in her eyes that could communicate more than words and a beautiful gaze that could melt mens hearts. In this 1958 outing Maria Felix plays a familiar role for anyone who has seen her movies. She plays the hard woman, as mean and ruthless as any male villan, as heartless and coniving as any evil person can be; she is also gentle and seductive and capable of winning most mens hearts. Maria Felix plays the leading role of a rich woman known as Victoria who plays opposite Luis Aragon who is the Federico the doctor. The story begins with Victoria going out for a little boat ride after the church members have brought branches etc. to burn for the next day which is Ash Wednesday, hence the title "Miercoles de Ceniza." The setting is beautiful as she leaves the shore alone(drama drum roll, ta-ta-taaa-tum) in one of those boats that has the huge wing shaped nets that extend over the water. The setting makes me think that it is Lake Patzquaro with the mountains surrounding the lake. Anyway she collides with another boat(the net wings get in the way) and is drowning but the man in the other boat rescues her and takes her ashore. He lays her on a rock and her wet clothing reveals more than this man can stand because as she awakens we see her communicative Betty Davis eyes have a look of horror as the camera switches scenes and days. Although nothing is shown it is clear the following day she was raped the day before. While in line to receive her ashes, she discovers her rapist was the priest and the table is set for her disdain for the church as she storms out of the church. The movie is set after the 1910 Revolution and is fast forwarded 10-15 years through the turbulence and the bid for power in Mexico. This power struggle and bloodshed includes the role of the Cristeros(Christian Revolutionaries) and their fight against the government. While on a train ride Victoria meets Federico but not before she observes him carefully and gives him suspicious silent looks; there is series of camera shots where she is checking out the good doctors movements that is priceless.The train is assaulted by revolutionaries and Victoria finds out that the doctor is also a spy for the Cristeros. This becomes a big problem because she is falling for him. The doctor eventually reveals a few more secrets about himself much later in the movie.Victoria is a bitter woman, a non forgiving type who is in spite of her riches is unhappy. She belittles people, is the madam of a house of ill repute and in general a despicable person. She has several opportunities to redeem herself but her anger over her rape dominates her will to be a good person.Throughout the movie we see the results of her bitterness and it's affects on others. In the end this is a moral tale that expounds the virtues of forgiveness. This is a no frills DVD without any extras except the obligatory chapter index. Technically there were some problems with the transfer because halfway through the movie the lip movement becomes slightly out of sync with the speech. It is just enough to annoy you if you are watching the mouth too closly. My advice, don't watch the lips. Also this is a Spanish movie without subtitles so if you don't speak Spanish you might want to stay away. Otherwise it is a terrific little movie with some beautiful sets, especially Victoria's inner dwelling and it's three person wide winding staircase and magnificent rural scenery. There are also several songs sung including an appearance by Cuco Sanchez. Recommended for old time movie buffs, especially those that like the movies with Maria Felix, La Dona."