CABEZA DE VACA  (1991)

Key Passages

-- approximate times given are marked from the beginning of the film not the video tape --

0:01:22 1536: Eight Years Lost
Dorantes:  Eight years.
Castillo:  Hey boy!  How old are you?
Soldier:  Nineteen.  Two years in these places.
Cabeza de Vaca:  In these places.  In these lands.
Soldier:  And what became of your captain?
Cabeza de Vaca:  What?
Soldier:  What became of your captain?
Cabeza de Vaca:  Ah!  Narvaez!
Castillo:  He died.  Along with six hundred men.
Soldier:  It must have been hard living so long among savages.

0:05:19  1528: Spain Ends Here
Cabeza de Vaca:  Captain Narvaez! Captain! Here!
Narvaez:  What ails you now, Alvar Nunez?
Cabeza de Vaca:  You're going too fast!  We can't keep up!
Narvaez:  What do you suggest I do about it?
Cabeza de Vaca:  Cast me a line to tie our rafts together.  You have younger and stronger men.
Narvaez:  Look treasurer, the time to order others is past.  From now on . . . every man for himself!
Cabeza de Vaca:  You're the captain!  These lives were given into your charge!  Look at the men on this raft, they are sick and exhausted!  At least give me some oarsmen!
Narvaez:  Everyone is on their own!  There is no authority to turn to now!  Spain ends here!
Priest:  Captain!  The smallness of your soul can only be compared to the enormity of your selfishness!
Narvaez:  Watch your mouth, you stinking friar!
Priest:  Perhaps, but the last words I say will be for you!  You may say Spain ends here, then here also ends your hope of salvation!
Narvaez:  Fair sailing!

0:29:26  The Poem

The sea was calm,
     The moon was waxing;
     Moor under this sign was born
     Never a lie must utter…
     While growing from candle to man
     My mother always said
     There was no greater evil
     Than to falsehood prey:
     Therefore I ask my King,
     That the truth I shall tell thee.
     Though my life be at stake
     Should thee be willing
     I would wed thee, Granada,
     Endow thee with Cordoba
     And Seville.
     Married,
     Married, not widowed.
     The Moor who holds me
     Loves me beyond measure.

0:31:19  What am I doing here?
Cabeza de Vaca:  God! What am I doing here?  In this land!  In this world! God! What am I doing here?  Slave to a son-of-a-bitch Indian, a sorcerer!  And that little monster!  It was a dark hour when I met you evil thing!  Go ahead, laugh, laugh!  In my country you would have been impaled long ago!  And I speak and speak and speak . . . because I'm more human than you!  Because I have a world even though I'm lost.  I have a world . . . and a God.  Creator of heaven and earth.  Because even you were created by God! And my name is Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca!  Treasurer for his majesty Charles I of Spain and fifth of Germany, lord of these Indies.  And these are the Indies.  And I'm from Seville.  And this is ground and that is the sky!  And this is a plant!  And what else?  What else?  And this is sand and beyond is the horizon and the sea.  The sea . . . somewhere the sea.  The sea . . . the sea.

0:58:43  The Others Ate Him
Esquival:  Well, well, the honorable treasurer has arrived.
Dorantes:  Where have you been Alvar?
Esquival:  And of those in my raft, your lordship, nothing came of them.  I am the only one that something came of, because I'm alive!
Cabeza de Vaca:  And the captain?
Esquival:  The devil took the son-of-a-bitch!
Dorantes:  Their hunger was so great they had to feed on the bodies of the dead.  As soon as someone died, the others . . .  the others ate him.  Esquival here was the last.  And there was nobody left to eat him.
Castillo:  At the end only Juan Pantoja and Esquival were alive.  Both waiting for the others to die.
Esquival:  I ate him!  Pantoja!  If your lordship would like to see him you can wait until I shit.  Perhaps you'll recognize something!

1:17:31  She's Alive
Castillo:  She's dead as stone!  Listen to me Alvar!  Let's go!  There's nothing you can do.  Let's go!  Let's go Alvar!  What are you doing?  She's dead as stone!  There's something very wrong here!
Cabeza de Vaca: She's alive!  You don't believe it?  Look!  Look at this.  She's alive!  Untie her.
Castillo:  What is it?
Estebanico:  She was there!
Castillo:  Who?
Estebanico:  She was dead!

1:29:14  We Are Going to Have to Lie
Cabeza de Vaca:  He's dead.
Dorantes:  It's a Spanish musket ball.
Castillo:  Are you going to revive him?
Cabeza de Vaca:  No, Alonso. There's no reviving this one.
Dorantes:  We better stop talking about magic if we are going back to Christian lands.  If you tell the truth they'll think you're crazy.
Castillo:  They'll lock you up.  You'll go back to Spain in chains.
Cabeza de Vaca:  Are you threatening me?
Castillo:  No, I am not threatening you.  I'm just telling you what's going to happen.
Cabeza de Vaca:  We are going to have to lie.

1:31:28  Together Forever
Cabeza de Vaca:  Go!  Go away from me!
Cascabel:  I want to follow you!
Cabeza de Vaca:  Only death follows me now.  Go!  Save your people!
Cascabel:  Where will we meet?
Cabeza de Vaca:  Go!  Go!  My brother, please go now!  Together always, little brother.  Together always.  We will meet again.

1:36:27  Evidence of Justice
Soldier:  We have one hundred and seventy eight captain.
Captain:  We need more slaves, eighty at least.  My God!  What is that?
Soldier:  The treasurer of the Narvaez expedition.
Captain:  A Christian?  In that condition?  The things one sees in these lands!  Treasurer, we are building a cathedral.
Soldier:  The captain trusts that you will help him find Indian slaves.  I've been told that the Indians love you.  You have won their respect.
Cabeza de Vaca:  1536 . . . eight . . . years.  Eight years.  Your request captain offends the faith more than it does me.
Captain:  What faith are you talking about?  Theirs or ours?  The Christian faith and Spain?
Cabeza de Vaca:  The only one.  The faith.  Spain?  Is this Spain?  This.  This is?  Is this Spain?  That, captain.  Is that Spain?  I have seen evidence of your justice all over this land.  Eight years!  Eight!  Three, four, eight.  Eight years!
Captain:  A guard on this man!  We are soldiers!

1:41:17  Cities of Gold and the Truth
Soldier:  The cities!  Where are the cities?
Castillo:  The cities, my golden cities, the fountain of eternal youth, rivers of honey, golden women, sweet manna pouring from heaven.  I know where those cities are.
Soldiers: Where? Where? Tell us!
Castillo:  There!  To the north!
Cabeza de Vaca:  To tell lies like them, Estebanico.  Why don't we tell the true story?
 
 

Copyright (c) 2000 by Paul Galante, Graduate Student at Lehigh University.

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