Bless Me, Última Brings Chicano Literature and History to Film


Rudolfo Anaya‘s Bless Me, Última is now a film.

Click here to watch the movie trailer.

The big screen version of this celebrated coming of age novel received a big endorsement from film critic Roger Ebert who gave Bless Me, Última four out of five stars.

For us to appreciate the film we must understand the book’s place in American literature and history.

The American Chicano Movement of the 1960s, an extension of the  Mexican-American Civil Rights movement that began in the 1940s, covered issues ranging from worker’s rights to better educational opportunities. It is one of the first attempts by Latinos to establish a political voice in the United States. This is the socio-political context of Bless Me, Última, which is written throughout the turbulent 1960s and published in the 1970s.

This novel’s destiny became bound to the Chicano movement’s mission to represent a Mexican-American perspective and insert it into our national narrative. Add the Latino literature anthologies Anaya edited, the works he translated from Spanish into English to reach a wider audience, and the countless lectures he delivered on Chicano literature.

Courtesy: Norby Anderson

Courtesy: Norby Anderson

We cannot speak to Rudolfo Anaya’s original motives. Who can say if he consciously set out to write a legendary work of Chicano literature? However, what we can quantify is his critical success communicating a Mexican-American experience to a variety of audiences.

Anaya has received more awards than we can fit into this post, including the Premio Quinto Sol. In 2001, President George W. Bush awarded him a National Medal of the Arts.

The story that the film tells has been celebrated for the past forty years as a foundational novel of Chicano literature, an expression of the social upheaval embodied in the civil rights movements which nurtured it.

We hope that the movie is as great as the titles to which Roger Ebert has compared it, such as The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Mostly, we hope that this film is the first of many works of Latino literature that make it to the big screen.

The Wise Latina Club's Dulce-Marie Flecha

The Wise Latina Club’s Dulce-Marie Flecha is a rising senior at Penn State. When she is not writing her honors thesis, she is trying to learn a fourth language, feeding her fashion obsession by Googling her favorite designers’, or begging the Yankees to hit with runners in scoring position. Click here to read more about and connect with Dulce-Marie.

What work of Latino literature would you love to see made into a film? 

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2 Responses to “Bless Me, Última Brings Chicano Literature and History to Film”

  1. Annemarie Quevedo says:

    Dear Dulce-Marie, thanks for article however the Mexican American civil rights movement started before 1940.

    • Dulce-Marie Flecha says:

      Thanks Anne Marie for your input. Everything I have read so far indicates that the political roots of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement were sown in the 1940s. Do you recommend any reading?

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