19 December 2004 | NewMexicanCinemaLover
A Masterpiece.. a beautiful movie about the real meaning of roots.
On my own perspective, Bajo California is the top film in this period that we call New Mexican Cinema, over some other masterpieces such as Como Agua para Chocolate or Amores Perros among many other great films produced in México in the last 15 years or so.
Bajo California is a movie about roots. Its the story of a chicano artist who finds in a car accident the perfect argument to question himself about his origins, about fertility and about guilt. Damian is traveling when he crosses paths with another penitent who prefers to go walking than to accept Damians lift because he is paying what in Mexico is called "manda", to offer suffering and sacrifice to gods or saints in payment of a petition made.
Damian decides to burn out his truck as a stigma and goes walking all the Baja peninsula. He is paying his own "manda". And he is looking for San Francisco de la Sierra, the little town where his origins are besides some beautiful aboriginal paintings full of mysteries, secrets, connections and knowledge that will heal Damians urgency for answers. Aditionally, his grandmother is buried there and he is looking for his gravestone. "The past is all our deads".
In San Francisco de la Sierra, Damian finds his family. The Arces. One of them, who serves as a guide not only to arrive to the paintings in the top of the mountain but also as a guide for that particular journey that Damian is running towards the answers. Arce has few words, he seems to tell more with his looks and his breathings than with what he says. Arce seems to know more about Damian than what Damian knows himself.
This film is peaceful, it reveals to us the same answers that Damian is getting with the same force as if we were below those paintings. It has a metaphysical breathing that only a Mexican, with his particular concept of sacrifice, can fully identify. We all have guilt in our hearts, and we identify it through Damians journey. We all have origins, but we only notice its real meaning through Damians journey.
This is more than a movie, this is an experience of self healing. It has a deep psychological insight, and I can relate it with a therapy technique that I recently found in my life that its called Family Constelations. I'm not an expert, but if somebody can throw an opinion about this subject it would be deeply interesting.
This movie would not have the same impact without its beautiful visual construction. Lovely images. That one of Damian sitting in the uterus of a Gray Whale skeleton that the assembled in the beach is beautifully stuffed of meanings. Great scenarios and splendid cinematography. There is no need of dialogues, when the sound design is so detailed and precise.
We are in presence of a masterpiece. And it is now on DVD here in Mexico.