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  • I was grateful for the rare opportunity to see the 1960 Mexican film `Macario.' Without going over the plot again, suffice it to say that it is a spooky, black and white film reminiscent of Bunuel's `Los Olvidados' and Bergman's `The Seventh Seal.' If that sounds appealing, `Macario' is definitely for you. Films with this sort of elemental power, and which tell an enthralling story devoid of marketing strategy, focus-group tweaking, or commercial gloss are increasingly rare. When you find one, it's usually an old film that you stumble upon by accident (as I did with this one). It's always a delight to find an old gem like this one. Great film!
  • One of the finest Mexican films I have ever seen. The casting is excellent as each character is perfect for the role chosen. The film will leave you feeling that justice eventually does prevail. I am pleased that Ignacio Lopez Tarso is still with us and still acting. It is a real shame that the actress playing his wife left us so soon. The wife's love for her husband is so evident in the film as she is totally unselfish. The actor playing death is superb and will never leave you. I wish I could find the names of the actors that played the members of the Court because I believe they may be from Spain and I would like to look up their other credits. I highly suggest for you to see this film!!!!
  • I am ashamed to admit that I didn't find about "Macario" until 2000 when it gained some attention because "Amores Perros" was about to get nominated for Best Foreign Picture at the Academy Awards. "Macario" went to the spot light because it was Mèxico's first movie to get nominated for such an award. So I took away my prejudgments towards classic movies and I tracked down a "Macario" DVD.

    And I am extremely glad that this movie has worldwide recognition because it truly is one of Mexico's best movies of all time (if not the best).

    "Macario" is more than a fairy tale with macabre overtones such as displaying The Devil, or The Death. No, "Macario" has a social and humanitarian message PLUS it displays in a beautiful way Mexican culture towards the dead and how we (Mexicans) feel about Death. There's also a strong criticism against authorities and noble titles in the 18th century. This movie is rich in all the sense of the word.

    Meet Macario, a Mexican campesino or land worker who isn't completely happy with his life because he desires what rich people have; specifically, eating turkey. Macario works hard for his family but it isn't enough for establishing a life full of comfort.

    One good day, Macario's wife gets a turkey for him; a turkey that cost her a lot of effort and work. Macario is thrilled and delighted with it and decides to eat it all by himself, not sharing it. He walks too far until he gets tired and takes a rest in the woods. On his eating turkey journey Macario meets Satan, The Death, and God. The three iconic figures want a bite of that turkey but Macario won't share it. But Death makes a deal with him... a deal that will give Macario all the power, money, fame, respect and all the turkey goodies he always wished. But in exchange for what? True, he will be the savior for many souls but will also risk his own soul.

    I don't want to give much away from this wonderful piece of cinema. It is a tender tale with dark overtones and Horror references but to be honest, this is more of a fantasy story displaying interesting facts of Mexican culture.

    Ignacio Lòpez Tarso delivers an amazing performance as Macario. That's all I can say about him. He's the master. Also Pilar Pellicer delivers a great performance. Too bad that she committed suicide at such a young age.

    The direction is flawless and sometimes looks way ahead of it's time. The same with the fantastic art direction and cinematography. The final scene where Macario is in front of thousands of candles it's a visually stunning and rich piece of art direction and cinematography. A memorable movie designed to charm everybody.

    Please watch "Macario" if you haven't. You won't find a better Mexican movie than this. It has everything to become a favorite.

    To be honest, I haven't seen it in 3 or 4 years but some scenes just keep repeating in my memory. This is a memorable movie in all the sense of the word. This movie makes me proud of being Mexican.
  • this is truly a great, and rarely seen movie. it's beautifully photographed, wonderfully acted, and has the feel of a classic grimms brothers fairy tale (although this is too serious a movie for children). i was totally unfamiliar with the mexican film industry and basically only knew mexican wrestler movies, etc. this proves that there were and maybe, are, great movies coming out of mexico that deserve attention and prominence. great movie - 10 out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers --see this great film first.

    This film will make you feel ashamed for ever being discontented with your job --which to a certainty is better than poor Macario's, which is bringing sticks of wood he has cleared from the forest to a local baker for a few cents a day. His children, of which there are many, are always hungry. --As is he. Therein hangs the tale. After going to the baker during the Day of the Dead festivities, and seeing turkeys baking in his great ovens, Macario vows never to eat again, until he can have a whole turkey to himself, and eat until he has no trace of hunger left. He proclaims that had he such a meal, he would not share with anyone, not even his children. --Is it for this un-Christ-like desire, understandable as it is, that Macario pays during the unwinding of this scenario? I do not know. But the specters of injustice and death and human want and misery hang over this film like the thick aroma of cooking food. A candlemaker, especially busy during the Day of the Dead, tells Macario he should buy candles for the dead to show respect and pity, because, as he puts it, "We spend a lot more time dead than alive." That is perhaps the signal line of dialogue in this sad, thought- provoking film. Ten stars. See it.
  • iF....13 September 1999
    Warning: Spoilers
    I know that Mexican cinema has suffered greatly from repulsive movie makers. Macario is probably "THE" Mexican film that will define the country's cinema at its best.

    Macario is a beautiful classic Mexican film about the tale of a poverty stricken woodcutter. Taking place when Mexico was still under Spanish rule (For the ignorant reader "a person from Spain!") and racism between Spaniards and Mexicans took place. The Spaniards are the holders of the moneymaking businesses, while the Mexicans do the work of the poor.

    A woodcutter by the name of Macario becomes frustrated of seeing rich people getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Macario becomes sick of being hungry all the time. He becomes determined to become rich to make himself and family happier. One day his wife steals a chicken for her husband Macario. He kindly accepts and takes it to the wilderness to eat by himself.

    On the way he encounters the devil dressed as a Mexican gunslinger. The devil asks Macario to share the chicken with him and in return, he will give all the land to Macario. Macario refuses and replies by saying "This is not your land, how can you give me something that is not yours". Macario continues deeper into the wilderness in hopes to eat his chicken in peace. He then comes across God disguised as a shepherd. God asks, "Could you please give me a small morsel of that chicken?" Macario replies "My lord, you do not need my chicken". Macario finally hides in a cave where he comes across another man who too asks for some chicken. Macario sees that the man has not eaten because he is so bony, so Macario kindly shares the chicken. As the two men finish the chicken, Macario notices that he has shared the wealth with "Death". Death is grateful and gives him a gift; a canteen filled with water that will cure any illness.

    This is one of the most symbolic movies I have ever witnessed. Not realizing that Mexicans could to great movies they have proved themselves greatly with this magnificent tale of religion, poverty, and wealth. One of the most memorable scenes is the valley of candles. Strong character development and the depressive themes makes this a tale that is not intended for the weak of heart. A true masterpiece for those who love tales of deals between good and the dark side of life. See this film in its Castilian tongue (for the ignorant reader "the official and literary language of Spain based on this dialect").
  • Adapted from socialist B. Traven's story of the same name, the film is a artistic masterpiece. The direction, acting are superb. The cinematography is moving and haunting. The trees, the sparseness of the village, even the expression on the actors' faces-all are moving-all are memorable.

    Have you ever wanted anything in life, something you could just call your own? As Macario's wife admits to her husband she has also wanted something just for herself that she didn't have to share and gives him a turkey she stole that could have cost her her life so he can fulfill his desire to eat a turkey all to himself. For all of Macario's life he has always known nothing, but hunger as has his wife, his children and fellow villagers. However, Macario is a good man and cannot eat whole turkey without ultimately sharing. He is approached by the Devil, God, and what appears a very hungry man with whom does he share his turkey, but why?

    Poverty, wealth, and racism all are shown here. The story takes place in Mexico during Spanish rule. Whereas the white Spanish ruling elite, shown to be greedy, cynical, arrogant, and inhuman, are wealthy and want for nothing; the local indigenous people, who maybe all honest and hard-working, are forced to starve and live in a dry, sparse desert with barely-thatched roofs, praying to God for justice rather than creating it. The same cinematographer that photographed Brunel's films in Mexico was also the cinematographer of this film. Perhaps, that's why it seems to be an odd mix combining the social criticism of Brunel's Los Olvidados along with the existentialism of Bergman's 7th Seal. Intellectually profound in its depiction of economic injustice in this world, it moves the viewer to comment. As the candle-maker tells Macario, "We are born to die …We spend most of our time dead." It is in contemplating death that we understand life in so far as we have only one; and it is this that makes us question injustice. The near to last scene is unforgettable. Few scenes are as memorable: J'Accuse, the 7th Seal, Ordet are the rare exceptions along with this film. It leaves is with 2 burning questions : What is life? Is it nothing more than a candle that burns for awhile then is spent? What is justice? In a Capitalist world can it be anything more than a concept that like an object can be bought and sold with money?
  • This was Mexico's first contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (which was also up for the Palme D'Or at Cannes): to be honest, I only became aware of it myself recently while looking for links to "Mexi-Horror" outings on "You Tube" (it is indeed a fantasy but not a scary one, and far from goofy)! In fact, I acquired a copy of this one online that included slightly oversized burnt-in English subtitles. Its viewing followed hard on the heels of THE TRUTH and KAPO', which were the French and Italian entries in the same Academy Awards category – with the only nominee now remaining unavailable (and, consequently, unwatched) being the Yugoslavian competitor THE NINTH CIRCLE. The winner emerged Sweden's THE VIRGIN SPRING – which, like the movie under review, was a fascinating parable; incidentally, both films again found themselves in the running at Cannes, with the Ingmar Bergman title getting a "Special Mention" but the top prize being awarded to Federico Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA.

    MACARIO (nothing to do with a lowbrow Italian comic that goes by this very name!) deals with a poor Mexican wood-cutter who, rather selfishly, wishes that he could feed on a turkey but without sharing it with anyone, not even his plentiful family!; to be fair to him, he does go on a hunger strike in protest at the unfairness of the class system! His wife (played by tragic actress Pina Pellicer, best-known for her role in Marlon Brando's ONE-EYED JACKS {1961}) obliges by stealing the bird in question from the wealthy mansion for which she washes the laundry, hiding it even from her husband and then surprising him when he wakes up to go to work the next morning. As he lies down to feast on the turkey, he receives three visits from different men all requesting that they partake of the man's lunch: these obviously symbolize the Devil (appearing in the guise of a bandit), God (a shepherd) and Death (a beggar). Weighing his options, Macario accepts the latter's presence at his 'table' and, in gratitude, is given healing powers…but only to those Death himself indicates!

    Soon, the protagonist has his hands full with patients (beginning with his own son, who fell down a well) – to the consternation of the local doctor and undertaker – and, growing increasingly respectable, relocates to a big house in the town centre. Eventually, the Viceroy (played by "Euro-Cult" regular Eduardo Fajardo) comes to call in order to save the life of his own offspring – but Death appears at the head of the bed in his case, the sign that he is not to subsist. Macario tries to persuade him to show mercy (apart from turning the bed around a number of times so as to appear that Death wants the child to be spared after all) – for his own sake at least, since the Inquisition has also turned up determined to expose him as a charlatan or a sorcerer and have the hero burned at the stake! He is, however, given one last chance and asked to point out who from among a cell housing various convicts, and with the public hangman thrown in as a lark, is to make it out alive: when Macario states that all will survive (including one who had been sentenced to death) but the executioner himself, the prosecutors believe they finally got him trapped…but an attendant immediately reports that the man in question has indeed expired from a heart attack and the condemned man has been suddenly reprieved! The downbeat and irony-tinged conclusion, then, takes us back to the all-important turkey-eating deep in the forest…

    The narrative's inherent simplicity is countered throughout by the renowned Gabriel Figueroa's expert lighting – perhaps seen to best advantage towards the end when Death invites Macario to his cave where the whole of humanity is represented by burning candles a' la Fritz Lang's DESTINY (1921); interestingly, he would recapture the "Day of the Dead" celebrations – seen here in the film's opening stages – for John Huston's UNDER THE VOLCANO some 24 years later! For the record, the script was based on a novel by the mysterious B. Traven (author of the source material that formed the basis of Huston's own 1948 Oscar-winning classic THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE – coincidentally, too, Traven was born on the very day I watched this)! Besides, the supporting cast includes a number of faces familiar from films Luis Bunuel made during his Mexican tenure. As for director Gavaldon, I ought to mention that I also own but have yet to check out his THE LITTLEST OUTLAW (1955), co- starring Maltese character actor Joseph Calleia. One last thing: judging by the "Critic Reviews" MACARIO gets on the IMDb, it does seem to have a definite cult following – which makes its obscurity to this viewer somewhat baffling; in retrospect, the end result indeed constitutes a minor genre classic worthy of greater exposure.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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.
  • This film, set in colonial times, tells the tale of Macario, a destitute woodcutter who stumbles onto a magical source of healing power. He has a series of beautifully photographed adventures curing the sicknesses of the incurable in his tiny farming hamlet and the nearby town. As Macario's fame spreads, his wealth increases but his uncanny powers attract the wrong kind of attention, leading to a tragic denouement.

    The powerless suffering of the poor, the boundless greed of the rich and of the poor alike, the eternal desire to cheat death and squeeze a few more drops out of this life -- these timeless themes are all operative here to good effect. This is not a subtle movie, and it is rather dated in its characterizations and its moralizing. Even so, the acting is competent and the plot engaging. There are some stunning scenes that combine with the first-rate cinematography to make the film lovely to look at.

    If this rarely screened movie comes your way, I recommend that you take the opportunity to view it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    After watching bad film ater bad film in mexican cinema, it comes as a refreshing surprise to get one movie that is not like getting disentery.

    Macario is the morality tale of Macario, an extremely poor man that is given the power of healing by death itself. It is maybe not the most original tale, but it is extraordinarelly well drawn and delivered. The acting is solid, the casting choices were solid as a rock, the photography is beautiful, the direction and acting are believable to extreme measures and the few effects that are here and there are very well done for the time.

    I have one problem with it: the music. It is extremely distracting, sometimes it covers the dialog because of how loud it is. It ruins the mood more than enough to deserve one point less.

    I'd watch it again, surely.
  • Writer B. Traven's, cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa's and film-director Roberto Gavaldón's 1960 masterpiece 'Macario' appears at first to be a wonder tail for children, a little fantasy - filled with marvelousness. But then, its poetry (albeit it never resigns from its esthetic) turns into a tragic dejection, and soon you realize that you are in the impossibility to step back. Life has trapped you, nobody looks out for you - death enters you when you're born, and you carry it around in your livers, your stomachs, your hearts. Each candle goes out by itself. 'Macario's daring and ruthless realism hits you sharply, suddenly - as with its first spoken dialogs and captivating scenes. All illusions, romances, sentimentalisms, understandings drop unexpectedly from your entrails and your skull... and surprisingly long time before your death.
  • Gavaldon's "el nino e la niebla " ( 1953)already verged on the fantasy genre :remember the terrifying mask Dolorès Del Rio met at the ball , which came back as a vision for the gloomy final . Death is more important to Mexican people than to many other ones; don't we spend more time dead than alive? " a character says ; the movie begins with )the feast of Death - two decades later ,John huston began "under the vulcano " the same way -;death is omnipresent in a country where poverty runs rampant .

    "Macario" is a fable ,using the Gospels : like Christ , Macario's forced fast is about over. His dream is about to come true : eating an entire turkey . The devil ,in the shape of an officer,has been watching him thinking then this human being will be most vulnerable.and he goes as far as to offer him the whole forest ;Macario is no Christ (didn't he show himself selfish when he hides from his children to wolf down his food?)so he denies God and opt for a third power ,Death ,whose gift is deceptive : a precious water can heal the sick ,but only if the supreme power (the Allmighty) has decided so.

    Macario's wretched life comes to an end, but it arouses the hatred of the Holy see and of the Holy Office : these suspicious healings might mean witchcraft.

    Roberto's Gavaldon 's directing is absolutely masterful : whenever he films his hero salivating in front of the turkeys prepared for the wealthy ,or this impressive scene of nightmare with these puppets going up and down ,all representing death for his feeble children (he screams :"leave me one of them"!); you may remember Daniel's nightmare in "el nino y la niebla ".

    Of course the rapport Macario has with Death may remind you of Bergman 's "the seventh seal" ,but it seems that Gavaldon ,for his sequence in the huge cave, was influenced by FrItz Lang 's silent movie " Der müde Tod"(1921):all the candles representing a life and a fate ,which a simple pinch can blow out .But only when God has decided his/its time is through.

    A jewel of the Mexican cinema.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The first Mexican movie to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, it was also entered into the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. It's based on the B. Traven novel The Third Guest and is loosely based on an old border legend. It also bears similarities to the Grimm Fairy Tale Godfather Death or The Death's Godson. It was directed by Roberto Gavaldon.

    Poor, hungry peasant Macario longs for just one good meal on the Day of the Dead. In fact, he's so hungry that after seeing a parade of turkeys, he says that he will no longer eat until his dream of eating an entire roast turkey. His wife steals him one as he goes off to work.

    As Macario prepares to eat, three men appear to him. The first one is a fine gentleman who is the Devil and the second is an old man. Macario refuses to share with them, as he believes they are powerful enough to get the food themselves. But a third man, a peasant much like our hero, gets the turkey right away. And that man is Death.

    Death is touched by this and becomes friends with Macario, but they never speak, merely stare at one another. He also gifts him with magical water, which can heal any injury. That gift will lead him through all manner of toil and trouble and one final meal with Death.