“La Otra Conquista” directed by Salvador Carrasco tells the story of the Spanish conquest of Mexico during the 1520s and analyzes the effects of not just physical but also spiritual conquest of both the Aztecs and the Spaniards. The film follows Topiltzin, the illegitimate son of Moctezuma, who witnesses the extermination of his family, their home, and their culture. Topiltzin is forced to convert to Catholicism in the guidance of Friar Diego, a monk who is disturbed by the aggressiveness of the Spaniards and believes in the genuine conversion of the natives. Throughout the film, Topiltzin, who is renamed Tomas, struggles to distinguish between Catholicism and his native religion, and eventually decides that both Tomas and Friar Diego share the same beliefs in spite of the fact that they come from different worlds. In the end, Tomas commits suicide by falling with the Virgin Mary statue while wearing his indigenous clothes, suggesting a merge of two religions through tolerance and understanding. In Miriam Haddu’s article, “La Otra Conquista,” she mentions how many different aspects of the film convey the message of mestizaje, or the concept of mestizos —a blending of religious elements. This concept involves people preserving their own religion while also absorbing other religious elements. One example in the film that Haddu explains is how the images of both Tonantzin and the Madonna in Topiltzin's hallucinations are juxtaposed and eventually combining into one. Friar Diego also experience nightmares in which he is haunted by images of Tonantzin, and the hallucinations that both Topiltzin and Friar Diego experience suggest the process of hybridization and the harmonious fusion of both cultures. Although Topiltzin is partially conquered by Christianity just as how Friar Diego is partially conquered by Topiltzin’s beliefs, Topiltzin still retains his autonomy, spirit, and free will. Lastly, Haddu notes that Carrasco’s film is revolutionary in Mexican cinema because mainstream movies have paid little attention to the aftermath effects of the Conquest of Mexico. Through this film, Carrasco is able to fully represent Mexican history and how it led to a distinctive identity of the nation today. --In Miriam Haddu’s piece in the Reader, she emphasizes that the focus of the movie was spiritual conquest and hybridization rather than territorial invasion because of its longer lasting effects on native society. The Aztecs were certainly portrayed as victims in the physical sense but spiritually, who conquered whom? She states that near the end of his life, Friar Diego is just as converted as Topiltzin was- he feels tremendous guilt and is no longer sure of the absolutes of his religion. There seemed to be a unification of the two religions near the end- the creation of a “hybrid spiritual belief system” that is
- The Other Conquest: Duality, Parallelism, and Symmetry
- By Catherine Willard, with comment by Kim Weber
The Other Conquest, a film by Salvador Carrasco, tells the story of oppression of the Aztecs by the Spanish conquistadors, which ultimately leads to an unlikely cultural and religious understanding by its two main characters by the end of the movie. Topiltzin, a native Aztec, is captured and becomes Catholic as a result of forced conversion. He is juxtaposed against Fray Diego, an optimistic friar on a mission to convert natives to Catholicism and a man hopeful for Topiltzin’s faith. Together, both characters form a bond that allows for two completely different cultures to align and for the viewers to understand that perhaps these cultures are more similar than they seem. Carrasco divides his movie into two distinct...
- Las Casas on Converting the “Barbarians”
- By Alexandra Neumann, with comment by Kelsey Cannon
What does the title of the film The Other Conquest suggest? The word “conquest” denotes that there is a yielding of some manner, and one would believe that the initial form of this would be physically. However, the film proposes that there is a significant “other” form of conquest that has taken place. It examines the social, psychological, and, most importantly, religious effects on the Spanish colonization of the Aztec people in the 1520s. The Other Conquest is a story that focuses on the cultural and religious clash of conversion. The characters of Topiltzin and Friar Diego illuminate the discordance between the two groups of people. The Friar assumes the responsibility of converting Topiltzin from a...
- Sex as the Other Conquest
- By Morgan Christopher
The Other Conquest begins in 1520, but much of the film takes place between 1526 and 1531. At this point, Hernando Cortes has already physically defeated the Aztec people with brute military forced and advanced weaponry. Now it is time to spread religion and force assimilation to Spanish culture. Writer and director Salvador Carrasco defines the other conquest as “the conquest carried out by the indigenous people, who appropriated European religious forms and made them their own. . . . That reverse conquest is embodied in Topiltzin's melding of the Aztec Mother Goddess with the Catholic Virgin Mary and in his Christlike self-sacrifice, which makes him transcend his enemies” (176). The reverse conquest is not only seen...
- Selling Faith
- By Brian Cohen, with comment by Eddie Strumfels
To begin, I feel that Spanish intervention in the Aztecs’ society -- as portrayed in the film The Other Conquest -- is not only acceptable but justifiable. It is human nature’s duty for stronger civilizations to overtake weaker ones. This is basic Darwinistic “survival of the fittest,” and certainly we as an international community would not have progressed as far and fast as we have without having followed this basic principle. The Spanish rightfully used their new navigation, military, and transportation technologies to discover the New World and spread their values, which were obviously superior, to the natives. And although superiority may seem like a subjective phrase, it is important to note that nearly no...
- Human Sacrifice in The Other Conquest
- By Carina Meleca, with comment by Kim Weber
Arguably, human sacrifice, one of the most controversial demonstrations in Salvador Carrasco’s The Other Conquest, is a topic not easily understood by modern Western culture, but certainly easily judged. Many stereotypes surrounding the act of sacrifice have been vindicated in their numerous cinematic portrayals. The question we as intellectual and responsive viewers must ask ourselves is: are these portrayals of savage executions supported by any historical merit? What were the ideological justifications for and origin of sacrifice? Beyond religious reasons, were there other catalysts for sacrifice to occur? Do these purposes match or negate the objectives Carrasco wishes to achieve in his account of sacrifice in...
- Tonantzin and the Virgin Mary: Two Bodies, One Soul?
- By Andrea Espinoza, with comment by Kelsey Cannon
In Salvador Carrasco’s La otra conquista the idea of a higher power is one of the most prevalent themes. Glorification of a higher power is named as the reason why both the Aztecs and Europeans engage in practices that our modern civilization would deem to be at best unusual and at worst horrific. What is so special about this film, however, is that the higher power is not the usual male figure as we have seen in other films that focus on European colonization and absorption of other cultures. This higher power is specifically female, and she starts out as Tonantzin, the Mother Goddess of the Aztec religion, a figure that the main character Topiltzin looks to as the ultimate keeper of the balance in his world. Once the...
- Strange Rumblings out of Chiapas: The Contemporary Politics of The Other Conquest
- By Eric Edgerton
In his essay “Invisible Sight,” Salvador Carrasco identifies his film as a Zapatista-inspired work. The struggle of the Zapatistas and specifically its relationship with the struggle of the indigenous peoples is so central to this film that it truly cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of both groups, but U.S audiences know remarkably little about the Zapatista movement.
- Friar Diego’s Death Bed
- By Krystal Kaai
Throughout the film The Other Conquest, cultural clash between the Aztecs and their Spanish conquerors manifests in many ways. This cultural discord is particularly evident in scenes that juxtapose contrasting images of the Aztecs and the Spanish--images that simultaneously emphasize the differences of and blur the distinctions between these seemingly antithetical civilizations. Perhaps the most concrete embodiment of the physical and psychological clash between these two cultures emerges through the characters of Topiltzin and Friar Diego, whose interactions throughout the film reveal not only the distinct differences between their cultures, but also the similarities that their cultures share. Although there are many...
- Topiltzin and Pocahontas: Similar Yet Different?
- By William "Tommy" McNulty
From watching both The Other Conquest and The New World, we can gather a plethora of similarities between the two central characters, Topiltzin and Pocahontas, respectively. One is the victim of conquistadors overtaking his culture, and the other is a Native American accepted into English culture by the settlers of Jamestown. Most notable, however, is the fact that both are removed from their native societies. The New World is certainly seen in two differing views in the different films, one the conquistador-ruled Spanish South America and the other the English-driven and severely struggling Virginia Colony. Even though the settings appear completely different (one appearing to be a paradise of sorts and the...