DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
AND NOW MIGUEL (director/writer: Joseph Krumgold; screenwriter: from the book by Joseph Krumgold; music: Louis Applebaum; cast: Miguel Chavez; Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; Milestone; 1953)

 
"It tells me all I ever wanted to know about sheep."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Filmmaker and novelist Joseph Krumgold ("The Autobiography of a 'Jeep' ") follows the real-life Chavez family of shepherds in Northern, New Mexico (Los Cordovas), over the course of several months. It's a dramatic piece staged as a documentary, as it's based on Krumgold's book published in 1953. The book earned Krumgold the prestigious Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature. Joseph and his wife lived with the Chavez family during the filming. The simplistic black and white children's film was meant for a foreign audience and was financed by U.S.I.S (United States Information Service) as a Cold War propaganda film. It was rarely seen in the States, but was widely seen abroad. 

Middle-son Miguel, a  twelve-year-old from a large traditional Catholic family, provides the voiceover. He yearns to be a man and hopes his father will this summer allow him to go with the other family male adults and take the large flock out to pasture in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. This is a rite of passage to manhood that he aspires more than anything else. If he goes with the flock to graze in the mountains, Miguel can then call himself a real shepherd.

The heart of the film follows the everyday routines of sheep herders. It includes shearing and tending to the flock.

It tells me all I ever wanted to know about sheep.

Universal remade it in Technicolor in 1966, and an actor was used to portray Miguel.

REVIEWED ON 5/16/2009       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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