'The Other Conquest:' A story of Cortes and the road to contrition

2013-04-19T14:21:00Z 'The Other Conquest:' A story of Cortes and the road to contritionVeronica McClain | Contributor nwitimes.com
April 19, 2013 2:21 pm  • 

HAMMOND | The City of Hammond, Towle Theater and, Purdue University Calumet present the film, The Other Conquest (La Otra Conquista), a nine year labor of love by writer and director, Salvador Carrasco. The film is an account of the massacre and subsequent reformation of the Aztecs that took place at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan (contemporary Mexico City) beginning in 1520 by Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortés (Iñaki Aierra). The Other Conquest (La Otra Conquista) is a historical chronicle of conquest, treachery, religion, betrayal, and unfaltering faith related in flashbacks from the memory of a dying Spanish Friar Diego (José Carlos Rodríguez) who accompanied Cortés on his conquest from Spain.

Cortés and his army invade the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan during a sacred sacrificial ceremony in honor of the Aztec’s Virgin of Guadalupe (the Aztec’s primitive counterpart to the Catholic Virgin Mary). Topiltzin (Damián Delgado), the tribal scribe and the illegitimate son of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma, rises from under the slain bodies of his people to find the Temple abandoned and the Virgin of Guadalupe shattered. Bewildered and afraid, he takes refuge on the outskirts of the city until he is captured and taken to Cortés.

The remainder of the film depicts Topiltzin’s struggles to maintain his native faith against the tyrannical religious onslaught of his captors. His own palace, seized by Cortés, becomes a place of torture as the Spaniards attempt to reform him. His only ally is his half-sister who has become Cortés’ mistress.

Friar Diego believes he is saving Topiltzin’s soul by compelling him to accept the fair-haired, blue-eyed Spanish Virgin Mary in place of the crude stone Aztec Virgin of Guadalupe. Though Friar Diego acts under the direction of Cortés, he is sickened by the methods employed by the conqueror. The film depicts the barbaric measures of forced feeding, confinement, and beatings used in an endeavor to convert his “savage” beliefs to civilized Catholicism.

The Other Conquest (La Otra Conquista) broke record box office sales in Mexico upon its 1999 release in theaters by Twentieth Century Fox. It was later received in California with much the same enthusiasm.

The film serves as the closing ceremony for the “Transatlantic Encounters in the Shadow of Cortes: Photography Exhibit” on display from February 1-April 30 in the Purdue University Calumet Student Union Library Building. Previously on display at the Newberry Library in Chicago, this photo exhibit combines ethnographic interviews with people living along the route of the Conquest with murals and rare books from the era and, photography of 21st century Mexican culture that helps illuminate the past and its impact on the present. This colorful and enlightening exhibit is free and open to the public.

To be shown for the first time in the Midwest, Purdue University Calumet is bringing” La Otra Conquista” to the Towle Theatre for one night only on April 26 with a special program beginning at 5:00 p.m. Director Carrasco will be at the Towle to introduce the film. , Kathleen Myers, author and collaborator for “The Transatlantic Encounters in the Shadow of Cortés: Photography Exhibit,” will also speak.

To mark this landmark collaboration between Purdue University Calumet, the City of Hammond and the Towle Theater, PUC Chancellor Thomas Keon will introduce the program.

The film is free and open to the public.

FYI: Towle Theater, 5205 Hohman Avenue, Hammond, IN 46320

Rated R for language, sexual content, violence

Running time: 105 minutes

Spanish with English subtitles

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