It's advisable to know from the beginning of The Milagro Beanfield War that "milagro" is the Spanish word for "miracle." The scene is a rundown Hispanic community in New Mexico, bordering a posh housing development. In full control of the local water rights, the powers-that-be are secure in the belief that they'll be able to expand their development without resistance from the locals. No one can foresee that impoverished farmer Joe Mondragon (Chick Vennera), during a burst of frustrated rage, will accidentally open a ...
It's advisable to know from the beginning of The Milagro Beanfield War that "milagro" is the Spanish word for "miracle." The scene is a rundown Hispanic community in New Mexico, bordering a posh housing development. In full control of the local water rights, the powers-that-be are secure in the belief that they'll be able to expand their development without resistance from the locals. No one can foresee that impoverished farmer Joe Mondragon (Chick Vennera), during a burst of frustrated rage, will accidentally open a heretofore hidden sluice, thereby providing free water for his bean field. At first, the locals are against Mondragon's "insurrection," reasoning that the new housing development will provide jobs. But with the help of Charlie Bloom (John Heard), a burned-out '60s activist who now runs the community newspaper, Mondragon becomes the hero of the hour, the spiritual leader of an ever-growing "no development" movement. The evil land developers send their minions to intimidate or coerce Mondragon; each time, however, he is seemingly protected from harm by divine intervention. When Mondragon is forced to shoot a trespasser on his land, it looks as though his luck has run out. Chased into the hills by private detective Kyril Montana (Christopher Walken), Mondragon is once more rescued in the nick of time by what appears to be a miracle. And there are more wonders to behold before fade-out time!Whimsical, yes, but thanks to its hand-picked ensemble cast (including Sonia Braga, Rubén Blades, James Gammon, Daniel Stern, Freddy Fender, M. Emmet Walsh, and Melanie Griffith) the film remains totally credible throughout. Adapted by John Nichols and David Ward from Nichols' own novel, The Milagro Beanfield War may be the most likeable "liberal-tract" film of the 1980s. Robert Redford's appropriately Capraesque direction is matched by Dave Grusin's vibrant Oscar-winning musical score. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Director Robert Redford masterfully interprets a spirited story of big-biz real estate developers, smalltown Hispanics, and a host of miracles (Milagros) all from the novel by John Nichols (who co-wrote the screenplay with David Ward).
Redford could have produced this movie in any year of any decade. As fresh today as it was in 1988, The Milagro Beanfield War features a lusty acting ensemble under New Mexico's azure skies.
Chick Vennera portrays the frustrated farmer who unwittingly opens a source of water that regenerates his beanfield; Sonia Braga charges forward to unite the community against the developers; Christopher Walken does his devil best as a private detective; John Heard is the weary newspaper owner regenerated; and Ruben Blades acts with the same turns of color that one finds in his work as a musician.
Just as things go wrong, miracles come to the rescue! This is a compleat movie -- one to remember and to see again. Cast also includes: Melanie Griffith, Freddy Fender, Daniel Stern, James Gammon, M. Emmett Walsh. Composer Dave Grusin won an Oscar for his eloquent score.
Jul 16, 2009
This was a sleeper, a quirky little film about the miracle of self. This film should have been one of the greats, I don't know why it wasn't. It is in my top 100. It has a great storyline and the cast and characters are unbelieveable. I lived in Texas for a large portion of my life and it reminded me so much of alot of the 'texmex' side of life in San Antonio. There are parts that will just crack you up, and parts that will leave you with teary eyes, and those little mystical parts that keep the kid in you alive. I can't recommend it highly enough. Buy it, you'll like it!