Director Icíar Bollaín's film follows Christopher Columbus' gold-hungry exploits with American indigenous people through a modern framing story, which according to Vitagraph, "sets up an intriguing dialogue about Spanish imperialism through incidents taking place some 500 years apart." Gael Garcia Bernal stars as a director filming in Bolivia a revisionist history of the conquest of Latin America.
"A powerful, richly layered indictment of the plight of Latin America's dispossessed," writes Variety:
Carlos Aduviri is dynamic as a local who is cast as a 15th century native in the film, but when the make-up and loin cloth come off, he sails into action protesting his community’s deprivation of water at the hands of the government. Meanwhile, Gael Garcia Bernal’s Idealist film director is as relentless as Werner Herzog infamously was in making Fitzcaraldo, pushing ahead against all odds, ignoring the prevailing danger about to disrupt at any moment. Despite the devastation emerging around him, Sebastian seems unable to engage with any emotion over than a dogmatic desire to get his film done. And of course, the film also recalls themes in Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath of God and the film-within-a-film scenes are as brutal as any in Apocalypto.