The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Based on a book by Thornton Wilder (author of Our Town), this film is about five people who die when a bridge collapses, and a Franciscan monk who investigates their deaths for evidence of God's design, uncovering their secrets and connections with each other along the way. It takes place in Peru in the early 1700s. It's weird to see European culture in Peru--I mean, of course the Catholic church was everywhere and has been for a long time, but the huge, ornate European-style buildings and carriages and clothes and wigs--did they have to bring those? But I guess I can't blame the Church for that, or not exclusively. Of course this was Spain in Peru, so it was probably an unholy marriage of Church and State, and in that case, I can blame the Church.

Anyway, it was pretty interesting, although it took a while for me to figure out what was happening. A lot of great actors (Gabriel Byrne, Robert de Niro, Kathy Bates, F. Murray Abraham), but some of them seemed like they were reading the lines instead of acting.

I've never read anything by Thornton Wilder except Our Town, and it occurs to me that it was about dead people, too. Though in a very different way. I think the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey would be worth reading.


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