Juan is the handsome, irresponsible, best-loved second son. When his older brother, who runs the family's black-market business with their steel-willed mother, marries Juan's lover Ana, ... See full summary »
The debut feature by acclaimed Spanish director Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón is an impressive but taciturn fable about a publisher/linguist who happens upon a deaf-mute shepherd girl and sets out to civilize her through language and etiquette. His fascination with her affliction and beauty is balanced by his frustration with her ignorance, while the trust that slowly develops between them is jeopardized by suspicious townsfolk and by the tutor's worried family (whose garrulous manners are contrasted with the girl's proud silence). Never mind all the allegorical implications, involving the supposed isolation of the Spanish intelligentsia under the decades-long dictatorship of Franco (near death when the film was made). The drama by itself is thought provoking, and beautifully filmed. But the director's oblique narrative style extends no favors to its audience, and viewers are obliged to fill in the gaps of meaning by themselves.
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