499

  • Rodrigo Reyes
  • Mexico, United States
  • 2020
  • 88 min
  • European Premiere
  • Luminous

Exactly 499 years after the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, an unnamed conquistador washes up on the east coast of Mexico as if ejected from a time machine. In his period costume, he treks over the mountains, from Veracruz to Mexico City, the same route that Hernán Cortés took in 1521 to conquer the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan.

Along his way, people tell their stories candidly—the son of an activist journalist murdered by drug criminals, a former soldier who specialized in torture, a mother who lost her 12-year-old daughter in an horrific act of revenge. Though no violence is shown, we can feel its presence.

We witness a Mexico ravaged by violence and cruelty through the eyes of the weary and bewildered time traveler (Spanish actor Eduardo San Juan Breña is perfectly cast in the role). The memories and interior monologue of this conquistador provide an extra historical dimension and help us grasp how the colonial past has affected the present. And despite the beautifully composed images of this original, magical-realistic road movie, a harsh reality predominates.

Credits

  • 88 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Spanish
  • Subtitles in: English
Director
Rodrigo Reyes
Production
Andrew Houchens, Inti Cordera for La Maroma Productions
Executive producer
Steve Holmgren, Carter Logan
Co-production
Su Kim, David Felix Sutcliffe
Cinematography
Alejandro Mejía, AMC

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