The Milagro Beanfield War

Film, Comedy
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A New Mexican handyman (Vennera), by a mix of magical intervention and carelessness, kicks down the sluice gate of a privatised water supply, which converts his parched ancestral patch into a potentially fertile field of beans. But a developer (Bradford) in cahoots with all the men-with-no-smiles from State Governor (Walsh) down, wants the water for a planned leisure valley. Battle is enjoined. Which cues stormy domestic quarrels, riotous community meetings, the re-illusionment of a hack (Heard), a chance for the local conscience (Braga) to look vital in jeans and crisp white blouse, and for the sheriff (Blades) to display his lopsided grin. A tragic accident threatens the happy ending, but hang on in. Ostensibly a celebration of the triumph of community over exploitation and injustice, Redford's film sustains a slow mood of simpatico amiability and photographs the landscape with moony or golden washes that are perhaps hard to dislike, but is slain by its adherence to an outdated populist mythology.

By: WH

Release details

Duration: 118 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robert Redford
Screenwriter: David S Ward, John Nichols
Cast: Carlos Riquelme
John Heard
Ruben Blades
Sonia Braga
Christopher Walken
M Emmet Walsh
Chick Vennera
Melanie Griffith
Richard Bradford
Daniel Stern
Jerry Hardin

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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One of the very few movies I have watched multiple times over the years and enjoy each time. The story is good enough although as noted elsewhere it uses a tired agenda of bashing the dirty developers who cut down trees, build resort golf courses, and make money. It's the direction, acting, photography, and music that captivate. The characters are very believable and Milagro seems like a real place where simple living struggles against low economic opportunity. The promise of jobs from the development tempt the townspeople who want better for themselves and their children. It's the practical vs the ideal. The music is in my head just thinking about it.