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Films >> Otra Conquista, La (The Other Conquest) (1998) >>

0:02:25 Templo Mayor, May 1520
The aftermath of the massacre. Rain pouring down on dead bodies lying prostrate. One moves. Topiltzin crawls out from under a dead body. It's as if he is the only survivor. Upon hearing a Spanish horn, he begins to rapidly ascend the side of the Temple. From this vantage point he sees his dead mother and cries out in anguish.
0:04:12 Fray Diego on his Death Bed (La Coruna, Spain 1548)
Fray Diego looks nothing like the Fray Diego we see throughout most of the movie: he is old, withered, ashen, and has a large wooden cross around his neck and a large book he clutches over his chest. His eyes are closed and his breathing is really shallow, indicating that he is close to death. Off screen, we hear someone speaking about the dire state of Fray Diego's condition. We learn that Fray Diego has not spoken since he returned from Mexico and that it has been over a week since he last ate. As the camera cuts to a shot of two priests, we learn that the man speaking believes that Fray Diego wants to die.
0:04:49 Conversion flashback
Suddenly, the two priests in front of us transform into the silhouettes of two men--Fray Diego and Topiltzin/Tomas--whose black shadows are outlined against a bright orange/red backdrop reminiscent of the sun. As the scene unfolds, we realize that Fray Diego is having a flashback to his conversion of Tomas. The scene cuts back to Fray Diego on his deathbed, then again to a silhouetted scene/flashback similar to the scene in which Fray Diego converted Tomas; however, this time, it is Tomas who is touching Fray Diego's bowed head.
0:05:02 The Final Journey
Fray Diego begins to make a wailing noise, and as the priests rush to his bedside, he shakily lifts the large book he has been holding and says "Peace at last . . . the final journey." Baffled by Fray Diego's sudden outcries, one of the priests inquires where this final journey will lead, to which Fray Diego replies, "to where all mortals go."
0:05:58 Montage of paintings
As the background music swells to an eerie climax, we see a montage of paintings: a skeleton, the crying Virgin Mary, the crucified Christ, and, lastly, the Virgin Mary holding what appears to be either a sword or a cross.
0:06:17 The Sun (1)
The shot of the Virgin Mary transforms into the familiar shot of the sun that recurs in other scenes throughout the film. After this shot of the sun, the screen goes white. Carrasco in the DVD commentary says the sun is an "Aztec god."
0:06:20 Death
Fray Diego dies, the attending friars close his eyes.
0:06:38 The codex fragment
As the church bell tolls Fray Diego's death, one of the attending friars leafs through the book he was clutching on his deathbed -- and finds a fragment of Topiltzin's codex drawing depicting the dead Aztec warrior.
0:07:00 The battlefield: Topiltzin as historian of the conquest
Topiltzin paints the wreckage from a battle between the Aztecs and Spaniards: "So our essence shall live on." We see him sitting calmly amongst the thousands dead all around him almost casually painting, elevated above the field below. The first shot of the destruction, for instance, is one of a dead Aztec. This shot begins on the profile of the Aztec and when the camera finishes turning 180 degrees we see the other half of the warrior's face is painted, and he is wearing decorative feathers. This arcing effect works to slowly reveal this warrior's heritage and identity -- Aztec.
0:09:26 The Sun (2)
The battlefield scene culminates with Topiltzin holding a dead woman in his arms, now off of the stone perch and in the field, yelling out, "Sun God, why have you abandoned us?" The scene ends with a shot of the sun (the second time we see the sun this way) in a red and orange sky with the clouds covering half of the sun -- the Sun God does not appear to answer.
0:09:29 The value of the codex
Back in the home of Topiltzin. He tells his grandmother he wants to offer his codex to the sacred mother. Topiltzin's brother Alanpoyatzin is upset with this request and says, "we've lost our only Mother." This works to give some insight into his character and shows he is not as hopeful and as strong a believer as Topiltzin. This insight helps to explain why Topiltzin and his brother split ways once the Spaniards take over. Topiltzin tells his grandmother that they must find a secret holy place since theirs was just destroyed. The scene ends with the Grandmother telling Topiltzin he did well and that his codex is worthy of the Mother Goddess.
0:11:16 The Mother Goddess
First, brief, full frontal view of Tonantzin, the Mother Goddess -- who is, in effect, one of the very main characters of the film.
0:11:24 The Spanish arrive (1)
The next several scenes intercut between the Aztec religious ceremony and the arrival of the Spaniards. There is a thick tension here in which -- as the Spanish come ever closer to the Mexicans -- the audience can certainly sense an impending clash. In this scene the Captain helps Fray Diego up the hill, and Fray Diego criticizes the Captain.
0:13:24 Hiding the codex
The codex is hidden in the base of the statue of Tonantzin, the Mother Goddess.
0:13:46 The Spanish arrive (2)
Joking about carrying the cross, and questions about killing the natives right away.
0:14:10 The sacrifice begins
The woman to be sacrificed is the focus of attention; the priestess marks her forehead. Topiltzin and his grandmother exchange glances.
0:15:55 The Spanish arrive (3)
The Spanish arrive on a hill overlooking the Temple. The Captain affirms that destruction is serving the Virgin.
0:16:30 The sacrifice (2)
The woman is further prepared for sacrifice with ritual painting.
0:16:51 An act of savagery
Fray Diego senses the "act of savagery" about to occur, mobilizing the Spanish troops.
0:17:07 The sacrifice (3)
The woman's last stage of preparation is eating a mushroom to drug her.
0:17:39 Down with savagery
Shouting "down with savagery," the Spanish storm the Temple.
0:18:03 The sacrifice (4)
Topiltzin talks haltingly to the sacrificial woman, but she consoles him, affirming her willingness.
0:18:32 The Spanish enter
One of the soldiers falls through the ceiling allowing the Spanish to enter the temple. Preparing for a confrontation, torching a wall of skulls, the Spanish rush toward the sacrifice.
0:19:14 The sacrifice consummated
As the Spanish are looking for the sacrifice taking place, images of the priestess raising a knife intertwine with images of the victim's calm but nervous face. The knife then plunges into her chest just as the Spanish enter the room. Her heart is lifted out of her chest and displayed in the center of the screen. The Aztecs slowly turn to see the Spanish looking on, shocked.
0:19:40 Another world
At the sight of the sacrifice, Fray Diego, in a phrase key to the sense and meaning of the film, exclaims, "You really do come from another world." It is truly shocking for the Europeans to see how people sacrifice and kill people not during the battle, but in their everyday religious life. This phrase signifies the sincere intentions of Fray Diego, who really believes that conversion of Aztecs will enlighten them and make them better.
0:20:42 All hell breaks loose
One of the Aztecs takes the truncheon and the Spaniards prepare to fight. The Aztec puts down the truncheon, so also do the Spaniards relax. But two of the Aztecs attempt to run, and the Spaniards start killing them. Topiltzin's grandmother is stabbed in the back; Topiltzin in knocked unconscious. Fray Diego wails, "What are you doing in God's name? You are behaving just like them. Preach by example". A Spaniard carries a dead body of Toplitzin's Grandmother and steals her belongings.
0:21:45 Enter the Virgin
The statue of the Virgin is carried in past the body of a dead Spaniard holding a cross and past a pointed gun.
0:22:34 Destroying the Mother Goddess
The Spaniards destroy the statue of Mother Goddess, pushing it down in front of the prostrate Topiltzin.
0:23:04 Topiltzin meets the Virgin (1)
The Spaniards establish the statue of Virgin Mary. Topiltzin stares at it, and Fray Diego explains how the Virgin Mary is better than Tonantzin..
0:24:19 Where's the gold?
The Captain threatens Topiltzin with a sword in order to know where the gold is. Topiltzin's brother points to the base of the statue. The Spaniards break the base, find no gold, only the codex -- a "fetish" -- and throw it away.
0:25:22 Our history is smoke
The Indians lament the loss of their history as the Spanish burn the codices. Topiltzin's brother wants him to live and be their voice.
0:26:33 Friar and the Virgin
Friar Diego with the statue of the Virgin overlooking the scene.
0:26:47 The Friar and the codex
A fragment of the codex floats out of the fire, and Fray Diego retrieves it, putting it away for safe-keeping.
0:26:57 Topiltzin and the Virgin (2)
In a trance-like state, Topiltzin climbs toward the Virgin and kneels near the statue, seemingly in adoration. But he suddenly throws a rock at Fray Diego and escapes. The Capitan tends to Fray Diego, finds the fragment, and calls him stupid for trying to convert the Indians.
0:28:15 Topiltzin goes native
Living alone in the wilderness worshiping the Mother Goddess, Topiltzin is visited by his brother, who tries to talk him into assimilating. Topiltzin firmly resists.
0:30:38 Selling your brother
Topiltzin's brother betrays him to Capitan Cristobal.
0:32:01 The Sun (3)
The third appearance of the same sun image that we first saw when Topiltzin questioned the Sun God's abandonment on the battlefield. Carrasco describes this scene as the "Sun God protesting in Nahuatl."
0:32:06 Topiltzin captured
The Spanish soldiers drag Topiltzin roughly from his forest refuge, while his brother watches in agony.
0:32:35 The trial
Topiltzin is taken to Cortes and accused of the attempted murder of the "venerable" missionary. Tecuichpo acts as translator -- a role the Captain distrusts -- and later defender. The trial takes place under the image of the Virgin.
0:36:40 Tecuichpo pleads for Topiltzin's life
Tecuichpo speaks privately with Cortes, explaining Topiltzin's identity and pleading for his life.
0:37:50 The half-breed
Brief interlude in which the Captain and the Registrar talk outside and mainly about the "half-breed" child that Cortes had with his first Aztec mistress, Malinche.
0:38:22 The sentence
Cortes grants Topiltzin clemency of sorts, sentencing him to torture by the Captain and then exile in a monastery to learn the Spanish language and be converted. In the course of things, Cortes renames both Topiltzin and Tecuichpo.
0:41:01 Disgusting mixture
This sequence ends with yet another vacuous comment made by Cristobal to Tecuichpo (in regards to her relationship with Cortes) -- "Your mixture is disgusting to God." However, the Registrar has a more enlightened and positive -- or just more realistic -- perspective: "If God were disgusted by mixtures . . . he'd have to get rid of a good number of Spaniards."
0:41:39 A pensive Tecuichpo
Tecuichpo gazes upon a peacock ornament, most likely a relic of her people, in solemn and rapt attention and concentration, as if in prayer.
0:42:42 Another "conquest"?
Cortes appears from behind, holding a golden necklace and places it around Tecuichpo's neck, asking her to honor him and wear it at the "conversion" ceremony of Toplitzin. She resists, irritating Cortes, who cannot understand how he could give her everything a Spanish woman could ever desire and not win her affection -- ultimately raping her, as she passively endures.
0:44:29 Burning the past
Topiltzin's brother, holding a snake, torches the hut that he once shared with his grandmother and Topiltzin -- and turns away.
0:44:52 Topiltzin taken from prison
An unconscious or semi-conscious Topiltzin is dragged from a prison cell and punched along the way as the scribe looks on.
0:45:25 To the gallows
Topiltzin is literally carried to his place of punishment.
0:45:57 Enter the Virgin
The statue of the Virgin is lowered into the place of punishment and carried into a position on the gallows, watched by Cortes and Tecuichpo as well as Topiltzin, who looks especially firmly and has a flashback to the sacrifice scene.
0:47:17 T and Cortes witness the
Tecuichpo vigorously challenges Cortes, who vigorously defends himself, claiming his purpose is total conversion of Topiltzin, not just religious.
0:48:02 Enter the Registrar
While a monk performs the adjuration ceremony in Topiltzin's name, the scribe enters carries on an Indian's back, and there are cuts again to Cortes and Tecuichpo, as well as Fray Diego, who watches from the distant window of his room.
0:49:08 The punishment begins
Capitan Cristobal begins to whip Topiltzin ferociously, while Toplitzin and the statue of the Virgin exchange glances. There is also an Indian mother speaking to her white child, though the words seem to come from the Virgin.
0:49:50 All hell breaks loose
Topiltzin's brother attacks the Capitan, is beheaded, and a riot breaks out.
0:50:33 The Captain addresses the crowd
A troubled Cristobal exchanges a glance with the Virgin, calls for an interpreter, and angrily threatens the crowd, indicating that they are performing service to the Virgin and to Cortes. An Indian in the crowd challenges him.
0:51:37 Tecuichpo and Cortes argue
As Cristobal resumes the punishment by reaching for a chain to replace the whip, Tecuichpo pleads with Cortes to stop him. A cowardly Cortes refuses and slaps Tecuichpo, climactically declaring that it is she he cares about.
0:52:50 Tecuichpo chastizes the Friar
As Cristobal resumes the beating with a chain, Tecuichpo runs to Fray Diego's study, where he has been watching through a window, blaming him for what's happening, and challenging him to intervene.
0:53:32 Burning soles
Fray Diego does intervene in the chaining, only to have Cristobal pick up a torch and burn the soles of Topiltzin's feet -- during which an agonized Topiltzin shares eye-contact with the Virgin.
0:54:30 Cortes's reaction
A brief interlude shows an unhappy Cortes -- is it because of the loss of Tecuichpo or the unpleasantness surrounding the ceremony with Toplitzin?
0:54:50 A tearful virgin
The Virgin sheds a tear, showing her disapproval for what has occurred and her sorrow for Topiltzin's pain.
0:55:20 Monastery of Our Lady of Light -- 1531
A montage introduces the monastery where the converted Topiltzin has been residing for the past five years under Fray Diego's guidance. It is depicted as both serene and orderly. Outside, for instance, the camera scans a crowd of friars and Aztecs as the two groups kneel side by side in prayer as, on the balcony above, Fray Diego finishes Mass.
0:57:22 The Sun (4)
The fourth appearance of the Sun God, as "omnipresent witness," as Carrasco says on the DVD commentary.
0:57:29 The conspiracy
Tecuichpo and Topiltzin are together in the monastery courtyard, supposedly working on his Spanish. Instead, the two are forging a letter from Hernando Cortes to King Charles V. Tecuichpo stole Cortes's signature plate to authenticate the signature.
0:58:30 The Friar intervenes
Fray Diego approaches, and the three discuss the progression of Topiltzin's lessons. He confronts Tecuichpo and Topiltzin about overhearing them speak in Spanish. She offers an excuse. Fray Diego responds in Mexican, catching the two off guard.
1:00:08 The choice
Fray Diego tells Topiltzin he'll need to choose between one world or the other if he wants to convert to Catholicism successfully -- before finding the signature plate.
1:01:15 The Friar thinking
Fray Diego contemplates Topiltzin's forging Cortes's signature and stares into his own reflection. We see the beginning of Fray Diego's inner angst, the sprouting of the seeds of turmoil which, as we saw earlier, dominates his death-bed.
1:01:45 The Friar snooping
Fray Diego hears a noise, enters the hallway, and explores to find its origin.
1:02:47 Sex for survival
Fray Diego finds Topiltzin and Tecuichpo having sex in the monastery, the first glimpse of true deliberate and contemplative revolt on the part of the Mexicans. Topiltzin and Tecuichpo attempt to procreate, stating "The survival of our blood depends on us."
1:04:49 The Friar snitching
Fray Diego writes to Cortes asking him to punish Tecuichpo from returning to the monastery but to pardon Topiltzin, asserting that it is his "life's mission" to convert him.
1:05:49 Cortes learns
Cortes learns of the transgressions, with the image of the Virgin in front of him.
1:05:55 Flagellation
Fray Diego abusing himself.
1:06:34 Sermon at lunch
Fray Diego says a prayer over a meal; Topiltzin is noticeably upset and not eating.
1:07:10 Flower time
Watering and growing plants shows an elapsed amount of time.
1:07:40 Cortes and new woman
Cortes escorts a new "first lady" before heading to the prison to deal with traitor Tecuichpo.
1:08:07 This is my body
Cortes visits Tecuichpo while she is in the cell, threatens to kill her, learns the baby is not his, and perhaps does kill her off-screen, tho later Fray Diego says she committed suicide. Clearly Cortes does not want to hurt Tecuichpo, his "painful love," but she has embarrassed him and risked his "honor." When Tecuichpo reveals that the baby she is carrying is not his, the possibility of her survival is gone.
1:10:58 Topiltzin praying, pondering, meditating
In what Carrasco calls a "transitional scene," Topiltzin searches for meaning in church, in memories of Tecuichpo, and in solitude -- descending into a feverish state.
1:12:08 Treating the fever
A monk and a nun tend to Topiltzin's fever, but he erupts in a proclamation that his body can be conquered but his will can't.
1:13:35 Conversion hallucination
Topiltzin has a full blown hallucination that has three parts, intercut with images of his face: Cristobal about to brand him, a descending statue of the Virgin whose Christ child is caught and cradled by Topiltzin, and Topiltzin sacrificing the Virgin, who turns into the Mother Goddess, which he is surrounded by the women in his life.
1:15:33 The sun (5)
Carrasco says the Sun God is there to witness Topiltzin's change of heart.
1:15:39 Virgin statue arrives at the monastery
The next morning a calm Toplitzin awakens to find the statue of the Virgin literally arriving at the monastery.
1:16:27 We are alike
Fray Diego and Topiltzin talk: "You and I, deep inside, share the same belief, Fray Diego, even though we come from different worlds. We live in all times and all places. From the beginning, we have been meeting in different ways." Convergence.
1:19:16 Flashbacks
Topiltzin climbs to his window as the statue of the Virgin is wheeled by outside and has flashbacks of seeing his dead mother in the Temple Major massacre, the dead woman on the battlefield, his grandmother's death, the sacrificed woman, and Tecuichpo.
1:19:59 Lost (1)
At nightfall, Topiltzin picks the lock to his room and escapes to find the statue of the Virgin Mary.
1:20:57 Found (1)
Friar Diego and the guard find Topiltzin kneeling at the door to the sacristy, apparently in solemn prayer.
1:21:53 We too are your children
After Fray Diego explains that "That lovely woman is just as true as yours. What matters now is that this is the new word." Topiltzin runs to the holy water, anointing himself, and then exclaims, "We too are the children of the one God, to whom heaven and earth belong!"
1:24:10 A simple job
Topiltzin is given simple work to keep busy and to be responsible, because work keeps you human -- but he is forbidden the sacristy.
1:24:43 Lost (2)
While performing his new task of sweeping the kitchen to keep him busy, Topiltzin escapes once again.
1:25:16 Found (2)
Topiltzin is found again at the doors of the sacristy, this time trying to pry them open. When the guards rip him from the doors, he exclaims "This time I won't forgive you! Can't you see you're putting our destiny at risk?. . . You would die if you even touched her! How can you be so blind to the truth?"
1:26:14 The fever (2)
Fray Diego is at the bed of Topiltzin where he appears to have feverish nightmares, exclaiming "Mother Goddess! Into your hands I give up my body! But the strength of my will, never!" Fray Diego is taken aback by this. Topiltzin seems to be experiencing a realization that the Virgin Mary may represent his own Mother Goddess.
1:26:55 Natural remedies
Fray Diego is led by a young girl to a secret cave inhabited by Aztecs in order to find a cure for Topiltzin's odd and questionable behavior. The Aztec priestess has no help: "there's nothing to be done. Topiltzin is now a spirit without the limits of a body."
1:28:20 Mother
Topiltzin has a conversation about his "mission" with a cook, whom he eventually embraces and calls Mother. As a statue of the Virgin is being wheeled by, Topiltzin finds comfort in a Christian woman, foreshadowing that eventually these two cultures will merge.
1:33:25 The Friar hallucinating
Fray Diego wakes up from a nightmarish vision of Tonantzin, the Mother Goddess.
1:33:52 He'd better not
Fray Diego orders Rolando to restrict Topiltzin. "He'd better not" get loose again.
1:34:41 The Friar's plan
Fray Diego is face-to-face with the Virgin, and, enabling Topiltizin, leaves the sacristy door unlocked.
1:35:32 Escape
Topiltzin awakens bound to a table and attempts to escape. He lifts the table to escape through the top window. But before doing so he opens a chest and replaces his friar garments with his traditional tribal attire.
1:41:03 Face to face
Topiltzin enters the sacristy where the statue of Mary is kept. He stands face-to-face with the statue and stares at her in silence for nearly twenty seconds, then removes her crown. Topiltzin seems to accept conversion, connecting with Mary on an extremely personal and spiritual level
1:42:24 Abducting the Virgin
The next scene interrupts this intimate moment with Mary and depicts Topiltzin dragging her through a window high above the floor. It is not certain, at that time, where he is taking her. What is certain is that the baby Jesus, which she holds, falls from her grasp as she is pulled further through the window. Topiltzin embraces the statue, they fall, he dies.
1:43:30 The miracle
Over the "bodies" of the Virgin and Topiltzin, Fray Diego says to a messenger, " Tell the Conqueror [Cortes] that you bear a message from heaven. Tell him that I, Friar Diego of Coruna, bid him to come to the Monastery of Our Lady of Light . . . He must witness the miracle of how two different races can be as one through tolerance and love."
1:45:31 Heavenward
Looking up (to the heavens?) Fray Diego kneels above the heads of Topiltzin and the Virgin.
1:46:21 The sun (6)
For the last time, making its appearance at Fray Diego's final words.
1:46:46 A mystery
Fray Diego's final words: "God of All."