Macario is a simple peasant, struggling to make ends meet. He gathers firewood in the nearby woods, to sell at market to help feed his large family. However no matter how hard he works, he still finds his children are starving and this hits him hard. With the Day of the Dead festival approaching, he finds it difficult to take that wealthy families are able to make such large offerings of food to their deceased relatives, while he and his family can barely get the bones of a good meal together. He goes on a hunger strike so that his children can have his share, this naturally worries his wife. His wife presents him with a large Turkey for him to eat all by himself, a craving he had confided in her some days previous, he gladly takes it and sets off into the forest to eat it before he starts his working day. Suddenly a man appears all dressed in black, the man beckons him to share the turkey, but despite the man offering him immense wealth in return, Macario refuses. Macario is then confronted by a bearded man dressed in white, again he is asked to share his feast, but Macario refuses yet again. Hungry and more frustrated Macario goes deeper into the forest, where once more he is asked for a share or the turkey, this time by a starving peasant, this time Macario agrees, the man is delighted and offers Macario a rare and special gift in return, he fills his flask with water from a spring and tells him that but one drop from the flask will cure any illness, with one proviso, that the third man will appear at the foot of the bed of the ailing if they are to be cured, but if he appears at the head of the bed, then they must die. Macario gets a reputation as a healer after saving his own sons life and after helping a local richman to save his dying wife, they go into business together and Macario is soon just as wealthy, as people from all walks of life arriving in his town looking for a cure make donations in thanks. Not everyone is happy however, the towns doctor and coffin maker find business hard to come by and its not long before Macario is reported to the Inquisition, they have him arrested and against the odds he must prove he is not a heretic or a sorcerer, his life depends on it.
After two years of gathering dust on a shelf, i decided it was finally time to watch this highly rated Mexican film. A tale of poor peasants struggling to get by is not the most attractive of premises to me, so i was quite surprised at how the film immediately struck a chord. From the opening credits where peasants carry skulls in a Day of the Dead procession, i was hooked, as visually the film is a real treat. Gavaldon is a multi award winning director and it shows, the film is beautifully structured, the story is unfolded with impeccable pace as both visuals and characters are given equal importance, a striking dream sequence with skeletal marionettes and the grand hall of the Inquisition being particularly memorable. There's a wealth of characters that are all interesting to watch, their plights are intriguing to follow as they struggle with differing lessons in life. The film is full of symbolism and metaphor, some of which even Macario is aware of, in particular concerning the three strangers he meets. The First being a metaphor for Evil, Greed and represented by a Satan figure, The second representing Good, Generosity and represented by a God figure, the third one would seem to be an Angel of Death, The Grim Reaper, Starvation and represented by the lost soul of a peasant. Like in a Christmas Carol, All three come back to haunt Macario, giving him guidance or leading him astray and guiding him to his ultimate fate.
Macario is a wonderfully captivating film, that has plenty of great horror imagery, it has a great fantasy element too and also delivers some good wholesome life lessons, both comic and tragic and is pretty much intriguing on every level, i loved it. It also has a fantastic twist at the end.