Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #1

Re: Guadalupe (2006)

Thank you for being the best place for Catholics to go and get useful information to discern if we should attend a movie or not. I am a junior high religion teacher at a Catholic school. I just gave lessons on Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I saw a trailer for the Spanish language movie Guadalupe but I haven’t seen any reviews. Some parts of the trailer have a kind of Da Vinci Code feel. Have you seen it? Is it pro-faith or anti-faith? When will it be available on DVD?

I did catch Guadalupe during its theatrical run, though like many films I see it wasn’t one I got around to reviewing. I don’t see any sign of its coming to DVD.

Although Guadalupe does start out on a kind of Da Vinci Code note, and is more concerned with the doings of its contemporary protagonists than with the story of Juan Diego, the film ultimately turns out to be a reverent treatment that, in the course of its characters investigating the tilma, works in every tidbit of evidence and trivia about the image, the cloth and the story that I’ve ever heard: its miraculous survival, the absence of brush strokes or other signs of artifice; the photographic examination of the Virgin’s eyes.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t make Guadalupe a very good film. The contemporary story is rather dull, and the fictional Da Vinci Code elements (a discovered first-century inscription predicting the Guadalupe image; some sort of correlation between the image and stellar constellations) never really go anywhere. Much of the film is taken up with a trek the protagonists go on to investigate the secrets of the tilma, but there’s ultimately no payoff, no discovery, non-discovery, or dramatic conclusion to the trek. It just kind of peters out.

The best thing about the film is the retelling of the story of Juan Diego, seen in recurring flashbacks. The special effects used to turn a young actress into an apparition of the Virgin Mary are rather cheesy, but the actor playing Juan Diego makes it work.

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