A musical drama featuring a tragic love story. Relates a singer's rise to fame and her subsequent downfall because of the death of her lover. She manages to return to the stage only to die ... See full summary »
The English speaking world's knowledge of Spanish film before the death of Franco is pretty well zip - Bardem and Berlanga, Saura and, for the intrepid, Paul Naschy. There is a similar gap in knowledge of the Italian film, ending with WW2. You could say the same thing about many foreign language cinemas - notably Asian - but it does demonstrate the limitations of conventional film history and suggest the pattern it follows.
Out of this void comes LA ALDEA MALDITA. When a storm destroys the crops and plunges the village into even more misery,the people make a mass ox cart exodus. Arrogant farmer Larrañaga gets into a fight and is detained but wife Viance leaves. In more prosperous times, he retrieves her from degrading city work but continues to humiliate her.
Commentators home in on it's treatment of the oppressed state of women facing Castillian macho. It is alarming to notice how good a match it is with YOL, made in a totally different culture decades later. Rey was considered to be sympathetic to the Communist point of view but rather more interesting are the places where the film departs from cliché. Viance abandons her young child, blind father-in-law and jailed husband for the bright lights. The local money lender is shown as benevolent and more able to accept her faults than the town gossips - who are men.
Striking images of broad hat men in black, in the crumbling stone building community, are enlivened by touches like the kitten entering the door hole in the middle of the demo or the comic letter writing.
La ALDEA MALDITA comes late in the history of Spanish silent films. It is the work of possibly their most respected director of the day and it is certainly impressive. A sonorised version was prepared but has (probably fortunately) been lost and a somewhat battered copy of the silent film remains. The Filmoteca Espagnol copy has no translation.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?