The Young and the Damned (1950) Poster

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The landmark of concerned Latin American cinema
debblyst29 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Unforgettable, powerhouse, stark portrait of the low life, the "forgotten ones" -- i.e. the poor, abandoned, handicapped kids (and adults) fighting for survival in the streets, slums and reform schools in and around Mexico City. A realistic film with amazing surrealistic sequences, "Los Olvidados" remains to this day one of the most visceral, crude, revolutionary and important films ever made.

A great companion to the work of Neo-realists in Italy (Buñuel himself said he was inspired by De Sica's "Sciuscià"), this is the landmark film of concerned cinema in Latin America, and the first of a great lineage of films about troubled childhood and youth: Nelson Pereira dos Santos's masterpiece "Rio 40 Graus" (Brazil, 1955); Hector Babenco's "Pixote" (Brazil, 1980); Sebastián Cordero's must-see, brilliant and sadly little-known "Ratas Ratones Rateros" (Equador, 1999); and Fernando Meirelles's "City of of God" (Brazil, 2002), among others. Each of these movies are great on their own, but they lack that extra touch of wild imagination that only Buñuel could deliver.

Watching "Los Olvidados" more than half a century after it was made, it's very clear to see why Buñuel remains a one-of- a-kind filmmaker in movie history, as he combines social commentary, political concern, artistic invention, wild creativity, ferocious sarcasm, daring eroticism, acid humor and unique visual style, all present here. Buñuel was 50 years old when he directed this film, as his understanding of human nature shows, but it has the vigor, boldness and freshness of a young man's work.

It must be mentioned how anti-cliché Buñuel's films were, and how faithful to his surrealistic beginnings he remained, and maybe that's why his films have survived so well through the years -- they're still so surprising! His characters are never taken for granted, they're never black or white, but always fascinating and disturbing. Think of the "twisted" characters in "Los Olvidados": the blind man, the mother, Ojitos, the girl, the grandfather, and all the kids...

Some unforgettable sequences: the young girl Melche pouring milk over her bare legs to a very sensuous effect; Pedro throwing an egg at the camera (at us, sadistic voyeurs of his misfortunes, wow!); El Jaibo aroused by Pedro's mother washing her feet; Ojitos thinking whether he should kill the old blind man; Pedro having a nervous breakdown when his mother spanks some roosters; the chilling, crude, totally silent sequence of Pedro being harassed by an older man; and, of course, the dream sequence about the piece of meat (Pauline Kael called it "perhaps the greatest fantasy sequence in movie history") and the trunk-man sequence, now so justly famous. Buñuel's recurrent fetishes are here too: the mud-throwing, the animals (pigs, mules, roosters, hens, dogs,etc), the disabled, women's feet...

The two final sequences - the fates of main characters El Jaibo and Pedro - are each more powerful than the other. Any movie director would be very happy to have just one of these great finales but Buñuel got them both !!!

It must be mentioned that the DVD (at least the one distributed in Brazil) brings the alternative "happy ending" which would have partially destroyed the impact of the film. In sticking to the crude and pessimistic ending, Buñuel retained his artistic integrity, which helps explain, in part, why Buñuel had been out of mainstream cinema for 20 years. He wouldn't compromise -- can you think of just one handful of filmmakers today of whom you could say that? And, just for the record, Buñuel's salary as a writer-director for this one was a "staggering" U$ 2,000 and no percentage. Enough said.

INTERESTING FACTS (as told in Buñuel's autobiography "Mon Dernier Soupir" -- a mandatory book for all interested in artistic creativity): "Los Olvidados" only got made because Buñuel had had a financial success the previous year with his second Mexican film, "El Gran Calavera". As a preparation for "Olvidados" and wearing his worst clothes, Buñuel circulated for five months in slums and poor areas around Mexico City to get the right "feel" and language for the characters. When the film was released in Mexico, it was attacked by everyone as an insult to the country and its people -- and remained just 4 days in theaters. Buñuel was threatened and attacked ("an exiled Spaniard showing those filthy lies about Mexico!"). Only after the triumph in Cannes the film became internationally recognized as a masterpiece and went back to theaters in Mexico, winning the respect of critics and intellectuals, an array of awards and allowing Buñuel to continue his career there.

Don't miss this one!! It will impact you on multiple levels and strike you as astonishingly daring and contemporary. My vote: 10 out of 10, a definitive, revolutionary masterpiece that may also be a life-changing experience.
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Buñuel: before and after him
acorral-117 February 2005
To better understand this movie is necessary to make some history. By 1950, Mexico was involved in the filming golden era. Histories about brave Mexican machos riding horses, singing songs to beautiful girls and drinking a lot of tequila were produced with success. By that time, actors like Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete and Pedro Armedariz were real idols and people were in line to see the most recent productions. Then Luis Buñuel wrote the story about the poverty and conditions of street children in Mexico City. No matter that the production, photography, direction and even the performances of relatively unknown actors were most than good, no matter that for the first time in Mexico someone produced a film totally different, with the influence of the Italian Neo-realism, No matter that someone had the guts to film the reality of the majorities living in big cities, Buñuel was severally criticized and even censored. The film produced a lot of reactions in the prosper Mexico. How is possible that someone could say that this is the reality in this country? How is possible that a person from another country filmed a Mexican history about something that really he didn't know? At that time, most of the persons were against the movie, but then something happen. In Cannes Festival (1951) Los Olvidados received the award for best direction and all reviews and comments about the film and Buñuel were positive. When the international festival ended, Mexican authorities decided to release the movie again to the cinemas and the success was immediate. By the end of the year (1951) Los olvidados won 11 Ariel awards (Oscar equivalent for Mexican productions), including the golden Ariel for best picture and three different awards for Buñuel (directing, screenplay and adaptation). Why is important to mention this? Fortunately, for the good of filming industry worldwide, Buñuel received the support and budget to continue with his projects. Probably the history had been very different if Cannes festival didn't recognize the work of one of the greatest directors ever. Now, this movie is considered as a cult and classic, and a reference for many film makers world wide. Directors like Kurosawa, Bergman, Fellini, Godard, Kubrick and so many more talked about this film (and Buñuel work in general) as magnificent, superb, brilliant. That's why this film is so important. Talking about the movie and the history, we can stand out the surrealist images along the entire movie. The scene of Pedrito's dream is nothing but brilliant. Then when the blind man is assaulted by the young kids there is a reference with the chicken in front of him. When El Jaibo is killed by the cop we see the image floating around with a dog. This is the first FREE work of Buñuel since the "the golden age" in 1930. He made a totally new concept for Mexican films. He told the audiences that real life is not a happy history, is made of common people with problems, passions, misery and even in that conditions is possible to have the most deeply emotions. He showed on screen the impacting endings, beautiful images and shakes the conscience of thousands. "Los olvidados" is one of his finest films and with no doubt the first great Mexican movie (fair to mention Emilio Fernadez' "Maria Candelaria (1944) and "Publerina" (1948) as it closest contending). Recently and alternate ending for the movie was released to the public. In that sequence we saw Pedrito returning to the children house, after he bought the cigarettes to the principal. A happy end. He was forced to shoot it, but again, fortunately the crude and strong outcome prevailed for the good of the history, to show us that a lot of times real life is not necessary a happy conclusion, that sometimes there are children with good intentions in wrong environments, that poverty is a monster that is consuming the majority, that horrible crimes could be committed with apparently cold blood; that sometimes someone (like Buñuel) could shake our conscience once a while. "Los Olvidados" a must see movie and reference.
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A Masterpiece
berrrrgman20 January 2002
Please, right now, take away the featured user comment that calls Los Olvidados a "nice, short drama." This is perhaps the worst assessment of any movie I have ever heard, and whoever said it cannot recognize how masterful the film is because his or her senses have been dulled by too many action movies. I say that because this film, from surrealist master Luis Buñuel, is as admirable as nearly any portrait of poverty and crime, with the probable exception of DeSica's The Bicycle Thief. In fact, though, Los Olvidados is much much more brutal and harrowing than The Bicycle Thief (not to say that this assures it to be a superior film). Buñuel mostly takes a break from his surrealist tendencies in this film, with the exception of a few remarkably effective dream sequences, and creates a ultra-realist portrait of Mexican slums that is uncompromisingly frank. All the characters, including a young boy caught up in a dangerous gang, his harsh mother, the gang leader and vicious bully, and a bitter old blind man, among others, and what transpires among them are expertly captured by Buñuel's camera. To characterize this movie, I would call it a much more bleak and brutal Neo-realist film, with a touch of surrealism. I would also characterize it as a masterpiece. Why this film does not show up on more top film lists I am unsure, but all I can say is that it should not be missed by any serious film connoisseur.
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Neo-realism with an extra gear
Asa_Nisi_Masa219 September 2006
Where do I start? Perhaps, by writing WOW a few hundred times in a row...

The very opening shots and voice-over warn us that this was not an optimistic movie. It instantly made me believe this would be Las Hurdes in Mexico, something like a fictionalised version of Buñuel's 1933 faux-documentary about the extreme poverty of the peasants in the remote Spanish Las Hurdes region. In the first half hour, Los Olvidados's mood and style remained faithful to the influence of several Italian neo-realist movies I'd seen, namely De Sica and perhaps some early Pasolini (namely, Accattone). In a looser sense, maybe also Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay! seemed to have gotten some inspiration from Buñuel's movie. And finally, I could also and more obviously see that Fernando Meirelles's Cidade de Deus (City of God) owed more than a little to this 1950 masterpiece. I love it when I finally get to see the movie that has influenced so many other (usually minor, but more famous) films that have followed it even several decades after its release! Los Olvidados would still have been an excellent film, even if it had remained Italian neo-realistic-like till the end. But to my delight and wonder, it became something much more unique and memorable as soon as its own distinct, Buñuelian flavour kicked in halfway through, IMO elevating this picture to something more than "just" powerfully gritty and cinematically honest (as can be said and admired in the works of De Sica, Rossellini et al). To be honest, though I AM Italian and the spirit of neo-realism is somehow deeply embedded in my cultural subconscious, my problem with the Italian neo-realists has always been their lack of vision, or refusal to also venture into the otherworldly, the spiritual, the dream-like, the allegorical. Though I bow before the greatness of the Italian neo-realist masters, I will never feel completely conquered by their otherwise mesmerising pictures. Before watching Los Olvidados, I was never quite sure of the reason for this. With this movie, Buñuel has finally put his finger on exactly what I've always found was missing in pictures like Sciuscià, Accattone and Roma Città Aperta for them to truly get not just under my skin, but into my wildest dreams and imagination as well - an ability to interweave the fantastical in something that couldn't be more grounded in reality. Yet, why can't the lives of the underprivileged underbelly of the world, in this case a Mexican shantytown of the late 40s, also evoke magic? Is the fantastical only a privilege of the bougeoisie? I think not! Thank you, Buñuel, for inspiring me into thinking about this...
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one of the all time greats
Arnoldo Valdez8 February 2002
I just saw this at the local art house theatre and I realized that I've never seen a decent print of this masterpiece which ranks alongside Citizen Kane and the Bicycle Thieves as the greatest film ever made. What a shame? I'm waiting for Criterion or somebody to restore it and give it the respect it so rightfully deserves.

However, watching butchered, scratched prints with a muddy soundtrack has given the film a charm and personality. It's as dirty and grungy as the story it is telling.

This film is perfect. It's the closest thing to artistic TRUTH that I've seen. And yes the characters are rotten but they break your heart. Just when you think Jaibo is one of the screens greatest villains, he tells a story about being abandened as a child, and seeing the beautiful face of a woman who looked like a saint who may or may not have been his mother. Powerful stuff. Never have I seen a more relentless and brutal film. It never shys away from the truth and try to sugar coat it. All the kids are complex. They're neither innocents or devils. The story of troubled youth and urban violence have been told countless of times, but this is the real deal and the measuring stick for all.
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Not just an important note for Bunuel, but for neo-realism as well
MisterWhiplash1 September 2003
Los Olvidados, translated as The Young and the Damned, is a treatise on the street-life of kids in Mexico City. There are at least three characters who are of focus here, and three others on the sidelines with equal importance: El Jaibo, a rough young man who's grown up on the street his whole life, and who's picked up more than his share of wicked, ego-driven habits; "Big Eyes" as he's called by a Blind Man (he's credited as Lost Boy on this site) is a kid whose lost his father, and is taken in by the old-fashioned, hardened old man, who lives next to the girl Meche; and Pedro, the hero, is deep down a good soul, but with a side that just wants to roam the streets, at the carelessness of his estranged mother, who like her son is poverty stricken. Pedro, one day, witnesses Jaibo commit a killing of a squealer, and this puts him in a bad position, as his relationship with his mother unfolds, and so on.

All through Los Olvidados, based on real events and real people from the streets, I kept on feeling for these people in the same way I did for the characters I saw in the neo-realism movies like La Terra Trema and Shoeshine. Here are people who are so starkly depicted who can practically smell the streets coming off of them. That they are non-professionals in real settings, like in those movies, and the stories are such simple yet heart-felt, goes to show the mastery of Luis Bunuel. While he became infamous for such films in the thirties like Un Chien Andalou and L'Age D'Or, and later for such originals like Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and the obscure Phantom of Liberty (the climax in that is something that could've inspired most gross-out comedies of late), this film displays his worth as a writer/director outside of the reputation he garnered in that he tells us the story, with the little details and complex emotions that the Italian directors were able to bring forth, while every once in a while reminding us that it is his brand of movie-making at work.

And, un-like his other works, he does this ever-so fleetingly that I only caught his style creeping in twice: the first was a tip of the hat to his surrealistic roots, when Pedro has a dream that seems to correspond perfectly to his truths and the truths of the neighborhood as he asks her why (in an earlier scene) she didn't give him any meat. She brings over a large piece of meat, and as she brings it to him a hand creeps up (Jaibo) that grabs at him to take it away. There is just enough imagery and just enough message that the dream works as one of Bunuel's best sequences. The second time was a very brief moment when Pedro is working with some chickens and eggs, and at one point Pedro looks at the camera and throws an egg at the lens. Indeed, this could be seen as out of place for such a straight-forward drama on torrents of youth that resonate generation after generation (this is inspired by neo-realism to an extent, yet probably inspired the likes of Clockwork Orange and even the recent City of God), however we get an inkling of what Bunuel is trying to tell us- these are real people in real settings and in a somewhat melodramatic story set in times of economic drought and such, and feel for them as I do - but don't forget, it's only a movie.

In my opinion, Los Olvidados should be discovered by movie buffs, since it is possibly Bunuel's most accessible work, but perhaps Discreet Charm would still be the first to see if wanting to get the Bunuel vein.
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In the World of the Young and Damned
Galina8 September 2004
The story of troubled youth and urban violence has been told many times, but this is, perhaps, the best film on the subject ever made. This is an unblinking look at the hell on earth that looks like slums of Mexico City back in 1950s. It is also a masterful combination of gritty realism and Buñuel's surrealism (young Pedro's dream of Virgin Mary with a face of his mother whose love he desperately needs but never knows).

All the characters, including a young boy caught up in a criminal world but trying to be good, his tired mother who does not have time to love her children, the brutal and cruel gang leader with his own story that breaks your heart are not just wonderfully written and acted, they are absolutely real and would stay with you long after the film is over. Shocking, erotic, and sad, this is a masterpiece – the perfect film from the beginning until the harrowing and devastating end.

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An extremely cruel response to the sentimental social comment of Neo-realism…
Nazi_Fighter_David14 March 2009
Atheist, Marxist, Freudian, Surrealist, anarchist, fetishist, satirist, or Spaniard, Luis Buñuel was all these or more… One of the greatest of all filmmakers, Buñuel expressed an extraordinary personal vision of the world through an exceptional self-effacing special taste, creating a body of work unequaled in its abundance of meaning and its power by any other…

In 1946, Buñuel moved to Mexico where, between more conventional assignments, he summed up his creativity with a vengeance… His first masterpiece of this prolific period, "The Young and the Damned" was a masterpiece of social surrealism and the founding work of third world barrio repulsion…

Portraying the distress of delinquents in MexicoCity's streets, he admitted the effects of shockingly cruel environment but declined to glamorize his victim-heroes: the gang torments a blind beggar who is himself a skillful paedophile, while a Freudian dream the most 'innocent' boy fights a friend for his mother' s sexual favors…

The film is powerful enough to make a one firm man weep or encourage a true-believer to lose hope… Once seen, its disturbing images can never be forgotten…
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Short and little the world has changed...
ollie5015 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Review contains mild spoilers.

Watching Los Olvidados for the first time, one gets the feeling that this is a film way ahead of it's time. Made nine years earlier than the critically acclaimed Truffaut classic, Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows), Los Olvidados is a much more powerful and realistic portrayal. The story is centred around Pedro and Jaibo, and watching them it is not difficult to see why the English translation of the title is 'The Young and The Damned'

This film is both touching and violent – if you are looking for happy endings, then go and watch Snow White, for there are none here. The DVD version does contain an alternate 'happy ending', which I'm glad wasn't chosen, as it would have completely destroyed the whole impact of the film.

Throughout, you cannot help but think 'There but for the grace of God go I'. While set in 1950, this film could have been made last week. 50 years later we have films like City of God, and very little progress has been made in terms of the society in which these kids live. The streets are dirty, the fighting dirtier, and there is an overwhelming sense of desperation throughout. It is evident that Pedro is trying, and, for various reasons, failing, to be a more educated and well behaved young man, and the sadness of this is deeply echoed in the ending.

At 80 minutes this is a comparatively short movie; however it manages to get its message across very clearly. There are a few people who seem to dislike the dream sequences. I have to admit I found them unnerving as opposed to dislikeable. They added well to the overall ambiance of the film, which in itself is a very disturbing piece of cinema history, and very violent for the 50's when so many 'happy' Hollywood movies were doing their inevitable rounds

Make no mistake; this is no easy film to watch. The animal cruelty is particularly noticeable, and while I stand to be corrected, there is one scene in which a pair of chickens are literally clubbed to death by a frustrated and angry Pedro. Combine this with the general attitude to the animals, some portrayed, and some very real, and it makes for uneasy viewing. Scenes like these would never be allowed nowadays, thank God, and yet the scene in question actually highlights our own misplaced loyalties… While we are busy thinking about the atrocious way in which these animals are massacred, we are also busy forgetting that this film is REALISM. There are children across the world, living in exactly the same conditions as this film, from 50 years ago, and many of them are forgotten souls destined to the same fate as young Pedro. I am NOT condoning the use of the violence against the animals, but it does give one food for thought, on just where our priorities lie.

This is sad, brutal and dramatic film, and one not to be missed. This is everything that '400 Blows' should have been. Sure it was a reasonably capable film, but this is a true cinematic masterpiece, with stunning imagery and a powerful insight into the world of 'The Young and the Damned'…..
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between M and A Clockwork Orange is Los Olvidados
rogierr20 August 2001
Buñuel's most serious, concerned and poignant film. If 'les Quatre cent coups' (1959, Truffaut) is good, this is brilliant. Only the cinematography, which is still very good, can not equal the level of that film. Everything in this meticulous film has a purpose: nothing is left to coincidence and 10 seconds missed is fatal (the brilliance we're only used from Kurosawa and Eisenstein). Buñuel uses his intuitive graphics and metaphoric sequences, rather than fancy lighting and cocky cinematography, to emphasize his concern with the boys (the protagonists: the 'forgotten ones') and his aversion to the apathy of the fathers (who haven't much screen time) who mind-numbed think about sanctions rather than the causes of the delinquency.

'Los Olvidados' deals with the distance between two generations, especially the distance between fathers and sons. Where that distance in 'a Clockwork Orange' and 'Fight Club' leads to virtually unbridled violence, and in 'les Quatre cent coups' (1959, Truffaut) to other misdemeanors, not to mention the innocent mischief in 'les Mistons' (1957, Truffaut, short), here it leads to callousness and abuse of whatever is in the way. But in the way of what? Do the lives of 'the forgotten ones' have a direction at all, apart from trite survival?

Although M (1931, Fritz Lang) already focuses on the psychological problems that delinquents can have (first serial killer on celluloid ever), the other movies mentioned above are all younger, so I tend to believe that Los Olvidados was a groundbreaking film and inspired the other filmmakers. Correct me if I'm wrong. Los Olvidados deals with the distance from the apathetic parents, in Clockwork the parents are petit-bourgeois populace, in Fight Club seem to exist no parents at all (generation x) and in Quatre cent coups the parents have their own problems and not enough persuasiveness to create a solid ground. Finally Los Olvidados reminded me of 'Rocco e i suoi fratelli' (1962, Visconti), where a family moves to the city too and a disciplinary father figure lacks.

This is another Buñuel film that seems to have no precise beginning and no end. It's just there with all its brilliance to raise a matter, and should not be missed, for it demands a distinguished place in film history somewhere between M and A Clockwork Orange.

Why o why can't we vote 11 :(
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Don't miss this one
LeRoyMarko14 September 2002
Great film by Luis Buñuel. The misery of the Mexican slums is perfectly illustrated. The old black & white picture depicts even more the tragedy of the story.

Great lines too. When the kid is pushing the carousel used by the rich, he needs some rest but: "You'll rest when you die". And this one from the director of the reform school: "If we could lock up misery forever" (instead of the kids).

Another thing to say about this movie: the actors are not actors. What I mean is these are people who haven't been to film school. There not acting, there telling us what it is to live their daily life.

Seen at home, in Toronto, on June 29th, 2002.

88/100 (***½)
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Mexico, 1950. It Could be Rio de Janeiro, 2003 or Any other Big City in a Third World Country in the Present Days
Claudio Carvalho11 August 2003
"Los Olvidados" focuses the drama mainly in the bandit 'El Jaibo', just–arrived from a reformatory (where he learnt 'new techniques' of robbery), Pedro (Alfonso Mejía), a boy rejected by his mother and Ojitos (Mario Ramirez), abandoned by his family and the new comer to the group, showing a few hopeless days of a group of marginal youths, in the slums of Mexico in 1950, with the leadership of 'El Jaibo' (Roberto Cobo). . Each one of these boys is in a stage of criminality life: El Jaibo is graduated, Pedro is leaning and Ojitos will start. The restored B&W picture on DVD is splendid. Although taking place in Mexico, 1950, this masterpiece could be Rio de Janeiro or any other big city in a third world country in the present days. The end of the plot is marvelous. Fortunately the alternative end has never been used. Outstanding! My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Os Esquecidos" ("The Forgotten")
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The real dead end kids.
senortuffy27 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This is a gritty film about a group of street urchins in the slums of Mexico City. The main characters are Pedro, a young boy who wants to be good, and Jaibo, a real louse who's just broken out of reform school and come back to lead the gang.

These aren't the lovable adventures of Billy Halop and Huntz Hall. Pat O'Brien isn't around to shepherd the boys back into the good graces of society. This is Luis Buñuel's stark look at the lives of throwaway children and it isn't pretty.

Jaibo is out for revenge when he shows up. Thinking Julian was responsible for sending him to jail, Jaibo sets up an ambush and kills him. Pedro is there when it happens and Jaibo tells him to keep his mouth shut or the same will happen to him.

Pedro lives with his mother, but she resents him for his father having gotten her pregnant when she was just 14, so she is cold towards Pedro and pushes him away. Pedro wanders the streets sleeping and eating as catch can. He runs into a young country boy, Ojitos, whose father has abandoned him in the marketplace - one less mouth to feed as the blind man says. They find a place to sleep that night, the barn of a friend's family.

When Pedro gets a job to help out with expenses, Jaibo shows up and steals a knife from the shop. Pedro takes the blame and his mother turns him in to the police. He's sent away to a state run farm.

Jaibo thinks Pedro's gonna rat on him for Julian's murder so he shows up and steals some money the farm director has given him to test his honesty. Jaibo flees back to the city and Pedro follows him. A fight ensues and Pedro blurts out in front of a crowd that it was Jaibo who killed the other boy.

When Pedro returns to the barn to sleep that night, he runs into Jaibo and is killed by him. Meche, the young girl, rushes in and finds Pedro's body. Her grandfather tells her they don't want any trouble so they load the body onto a donkey and take it to a garbage dump outside town. Jaibo is gunned down by the police moments later when he returns to his own hiding place.

I told you this wasn't angels with dirty faces.

The realism in this film is right there, completely without sentiment. When Pedro's mother signs the papers to send him away, she tells the police officer she doesn't care to see her son before he goes off. When Pedro is wandering the streets, an older man comes up to him and offers him money for sex. Julian's father is a drunk who staggers through the streets with a knife looking for his son's killer. The blind man abuses Ojitos and throws him out. When Jaibo is shot, the blind man screams they should all end that way, be killed before they're even born.

The direction of this film is as sparse as the story it tells. It's shot in black and white and there are no fancy backdrops, just the streets of a poor Mexico City neighborhood. Yet it is one of the richest films I know of - the characters are haunting and will stay with you long after the movie is over. The end scene when Meche and her grandfather toss Pedro's body down the hillside through a pile of garbage is one of the most memorable images from any film I've ever watched.
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Sympathy for the salt of the earth.
dbdumonteil13 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Other directors tackled the stolen childhood.None of them surpassed Bunuel:it's his movie that should be in top 250 where Truffaut's "les 400 coups" is.Ditto for William Wyler:his "dead end" -which begins like Bunuel's opus,by showing us the bright side of the towns- seems hollywoodian,tamed and grandiloquent.Bunuel's work is universal,and when he says at the beginning "some day the children's rights will be respected" ,one wishes his dream could come true one day:it did not ,still in 2004.

Bunuel had already broached poverty with his stunning "los hurdes" (1932),one of the best (if not the best ) documentaries that was ever done.He has not lost his bite when dealing with fiction characters."Los Olvidados" is one of his very best ,one of his most disturbing.

VIOLENCE:"Los Olvidados" is violence itself :violence against the weak,be it a blind man,a legless cripple -an almost unbearable sequence- or a hen ;violence because there does not seem to be another way of dealing with life.Pedro the hero is a good boy:his longing for his mother's love is harrowing,culminating in the dreamlike sequence ;some people say they do not recognize Bunuel ,but he is everywhere in this film,and his surrealism makes this dream sequence one of the many highlights of the movie:filmed in slow motion,Pedro sees his mother as a madonna,the good and affectionate mother he wants so hard .Even Jaibo,his bad influence has excuses ;when he dies,at the end of the movie,Bunuel shows compassion for him,the scum of the earth.

EROTICISM:violence and erotism walk hand in hand in "los olvidados".If I should choose one sequence,it would be the young girl,letting milk run on her legs ,or Jaibo's extreme desire for Pedro's mother;symbolism ,which is one of Bunuel's trademarks ,is also present:the hen and its eggs epitomizes life ,this life the children are victims of.See how,after swallowing an egg,Pedro spits it on a frame.The hatred his mother feels for men (she has no lover,which is quite surprising) is glaring when she beats the cock.Probably the first of directors ,Bunuel even dares to film a pedophile (in 1950) :as this scene would be too much,Bunuel gives it a silent treatment:it's all the more impressive.

THE "other" ADULTS :outside the shanty town,however,all the men are not like this dirty man.Unlike Truffault,who,in "les quatre cent coups" ,showed caricatures of teachers or cops,Bunuel shows human beings.At the police station,see how the policeman urges the mother to see his imprisoned son;in the reform school-a word which does not fit though , "farm school" would be a better epithet-,the principal proves to have a marvelous sense of psychology and pedagogy:had Jaibo not come again,he would probably have saved Pedro:his beaming face ,when he is aked to buy cigarettes for him is the one moment of happiness and hope for the human nature in a depressing and somber work.

SPOILER The final sequence may repel some,but Bunuel wanted to show life in the shanty towns as it was:the mother's appearance,as the old man carries her son's dead body unbeknowst to her,before throwing him on a garbage heap,takes horror to new limits.It echoes to the egg scene.

As Stevie Wonder would sing a quarter of century later:"Families buying dog food now/Starvation roams the streets/Babies die before they're born/Infected by the grief".

Would you like to come with Bunuel to Mexico city favellas?
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The more things change...
mctheimer4 April 2000
This film holds up surprisingly well after almost 50 years. It appears to be a fairly accurate portrayal of street life in Mexico City in the 1950's. Sadly, most of the characters could be located in any major city in today's times -- but now they'd also probably have handguns, if the film was moved to the US.

Bunuel does not appear to let a lot of behavior remain off the screen. You will find relatively little of the boys' activities occurring off-camera. Some attempts at showing the emotional histories of the players are done, which allows a level of insight into the boys' behavior. Some level of sympathy is generated for all of the characters by the end of the movie, which is impressive in light of how despicable many of the characters are. What Bunuel does not comment on is a way to prevent the boys from falling downward into their spiral in the first place.

This is NOT a movie to be seen after you've just had a bad week at the office, but is an excellent social commentary which still has an impact after half a century.
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One of cinema's masterpieces, and still one of the most shocking films ever made.(possible spoiler)
alice liddell28 February 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Last week (21st Feb) was Don Luis' 100th birthday, and I was privileged to see this masterpiece at the Irish Film Centre introduced by Neil Jordan. Bunuel is always considered one of the giants of cinema, even though his reputation is outrageously in terminal decline. Maybe because it's such an unmanageable oeuvre. Take this film for instance, usually considered one of his five best films. It is one of the cruellest, most vicious and unwatchable films ever made, as well, of course, as one of the most brilliant.

The film treats of the titular heroes, the young and the damned as the subtitles quaintly translate them (the real translation is the far less censorious 'The Forgotten Ones'), young hooligans messing about rubbled shanty towns in Mexico City. Two of these boys are foregrounded: Jaibo, a murderous lout just escaped from reform school who behaves like a hounded animal, lashing out at everyone who gets in his way, hero of all the younger boys; and Pablo, a sensitive child craving his mother's love, who comes to see Jaibo's subversiveness for what it is.

In these unshockable times, it's hard to believe that a film half a century old - in black and white, mind - can have the power to assault the viewer so relentlessly. The catalogue of violent horrors are endless - a blind man is firstly robbed, than mugged: this victim turns out to be a fascist paedophile; a legless man is robbed and his cart is kicked away (this sequence is uncomfortably funny); Jaibo stones a friend in the back of the head and then clubs him to death; a frustrated Pablo, caged in a reform school, violently dispatches some chickens etc.

In the hands of a reactionary director, this ghastly material could have been used to expose the terrors of liberalism and the slipping of moral values. Bunuel, the great Surrealist, atheistic, left-wing auteur, shows that it is those moral values that are the problem. He has great sympathy with his deeply unpleasant heroes, revelling in their energy and invention, never patronising (in one scene they actually attack the camera), while never flinching from their cruelty. Even the most irredeemably vicious of them all, Jaibo, is granted moments of explanatory tenderness and an epiphanic death of sublime beauty denied to the pinched victim-aveugle who urges that all the young toughs are shot.

Bunuel's documentary approach is continually rent by 'breaching' subjectivity, and it is to his outcasts he offers this privilege, Jaibo and Pablo; the latter's haunting dream, mixing guilt, mother-desire, and the reality of meaty, dead animal, flesh is one of the great achievements of the cinema. But Bunuel's surrealism shapes the whole film, the dreamlike nightscapes in the streets, the prison-like houses etc.

Much of the film's anger is aimed at the sheer inhumanity inflicted on los olvidados. The narrative opens with them gathered in bullfighting rites that reverberate throughout the film until Pablo's chicken outburst and the startling climax, where all the rules of identification are cruelly dashed. This idea of being locked in age-old macho patterns is signalled usually in the circles throughout, most literally when a homeless Pablo is forced to manually turn a merry-go-round.

The link with animals is a very Bunuellian motif, and varies throughout the film - the tragedy of the blind man's mugging is mocked by a strutting hen; the boy's abandonment is linked to the stray dogs running around the street; Jaibo finds refuge in an animal-packed barn, where boys suckle on cows for nourishment.

The boys are reduced to the level of animals, they are creatures of instinct, but this also excuses them. Their elders are a sorry lot, absent, abandoning or drunken fathers, frighteningly liberal bourgeois officials, whose paternalistic, rationalist mantras prefigure PSYCHO; the squalid shanty towns of Mexico, wastelands with many buildings are begun but unfinished, abandoned, like the young boys.

Father figures are revealed as paedophiles. There is no division between public and private selves and realms here, the peasants being lucky to have one room to squeeze families (and animals) in. And yet Bunuel is at his most Renoiresque here (as proposed by David Thomson) - everyone does have their reasons (or at least, excuses). Of course the fathers get drunk and flee, what else can they do? How can we expect an unloving mother to be any different when her son is the product of being raped at 14?

Neil Jordan talked about the Biblical fury of the film, and there is a gloomy, parched quality to it, reflected in the almost desert spaces the film occupies, eroding Mexico's modernity. OLVIDADOS, though, has all the relentless force of Greek tragedy, which Bunuel inverts, denying redemptive catharsis. The primary model is Oedipus in reverse; Pablo is a guiltless Oedipus whose mother won't love him, and who has the father-usurper-figure (Jaibo) try to pull out his eyes. Blind Tiresias is not a benevolent messenger but a reactionary sexual abuser. The idea of a world where the natural order has been upturned is compelling here though, disease riddling the land literally and metaphorically.

OLVIDADOS is unusually light in Bunuel's oeuvre in anti-clerical attack - an unkept church overlooks impotently the boys' nefarious activities; the blind man has crosses in his room, appropriately sterile signifiers in a godforsaken world where superstition holds surprising sway, and brief snatches of tenderness are ground down by inexorable violence.
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"If you're a peasant,you're not from here!"
morrison-dylan-fan6 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Whilst listing items on Ebay recently with my dad,I discovered that he had picked up a title by co-writer/(along with Luis Alcoriza/Max Aub/Juan Larrea & Pedro De Urdimalas) directing auteur Luis Buñuel,which led to me getting ready to join the kids on the streets.

The plot:

Escaping from a juvenile jail, El Jaibo runs back to a Mexican city overrun by his former gang members.Reuniting with the gang,Jaibo tells them all that he will get his revenge on the person who acted as a secret mole for the police.Pushing young gang member Pedro around,Jaibo soon locates ex-gang member Julián,who he suspects worked with the cops.

Pretending that his arm is broke,Jaibo walks up to Julián,and reveals that his sling actually contains a large rock,that Jalibo starts attacking him with.Killing Julián,Jaibo tells Pedro that he cannot go to the cops over the killing,since he will tell the cops that Pedro was an accomplice to Julián's death.After witnessing the horrific killing,Pedro tries to leave the life of gangs behind,but soon discovers that Jaibo will not allow him to leave his turf behind.

View on the film:

Aiming for a rougher texture than the Italian Neo-Realist movement at the time, Luis Buñuel & cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa boil the title in a bleak Film Noir pool,with Buñuel giving the movie the bare minimum of light which allows for the raw world that Jaibo and Pedro inhabit to be pulled open,as Jalibo is completely wrapped in shadows,whilst the moments of light/freedom that Pedro tries to reach are blocked. Locking Pedro and Jaibo on a path of doom, Buñuel and Figueroa show every grain of dirt in their rotten world with excellent,long tracking shots which reveal the burnt-out hopes of all the street kids.Rubbing salt into the Film Noir wounds, Buñuel gives the title a deliciously surreal touch,which allows for an unsettling nightmarish streak to be cut across the film.

Keeping miles away from the "aww shucks" kids running around in Hollywood at the time,the writers show a tremendous bravery in showing the nastiest sides of the kids,with Jaibo being given no excuses for the brutality of his actions,whilst Pedro struggles to stop Jaibo from destroying the brief light of hope on his horizon.Treating everyone in an even-handed manner,the writers attack the adults in the title with a vicious fury,as Pedro's mum is filled with a deep hatred for her son,whilst a "kind" blind man is shown to keep disturbing features hidden from the residences of the city,as Pedro & Jaibo discover that they are the young and the damned.
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Sensational neo-realist film with a moment of great surrealism
tomgillespie200227 August 2012
After his exile from his native Spain, director Luis Bunuel moved to Mexico in 1946, gaining citizenship in 1949. It was here where he would make his more generic films (by his standards), as he honed his own directorial skill while never straying too far from his surrealistic background. After the success of his comedy The Great Madcap (1949), he was commissioned by producer Oscar Dancigers to make a serious film about child poverty in Mexico City, and out of it came Los Olvidados, or The Young and the Innocent, to give it it's American title. Bunuel apparently spent months disguised as a homeless amongst the poverty- stricken children of the slums in order to research, and if that tale is true, it certainly came off, as Los Olvidados is one of the best and most realistic depictions of the innocent turning to crime in a fit of desperation.

The film follows three children in the same slum. Pedro (Alfonso Mejia) is a young tearaway who wants to change his ways and work, in order to help out his mother who neglects him due to her constant work. 'Little Eyes' (Mario Ramirez) has been abandoned by his father, and is adopted by the blind beggar Don Carmelo (Miguel Inclan), a bitter man who frequently voices his opinions on the young criminals of the city. El Jaibo (Robert Cobo) has just been released from prison and immediately sets about gaining revenge of the boy he thinks ratted him out. Jaibo and Pedro corner the boy, only for Jaibo to bludgeon him to death, and the two boys flee. Pedro struggles to keep himself out of trouble and leaves home after being accused of stealing a knife, only to find his and Jaibo's paths repeatedly crossing.

At its heart, this is pure neo-realism, sharing its tone most obviously with Vittorio de Sica's masterpiece The Bicycle Thieves (1948) in exposing poverty and class divide as the main cause of criminality, due to the ill education and the hopelessness of the young. Although, out of nowhere, comes a surrealistic dream sequence so beautiful, and so haunting, that you know you're watching Bunuel, and his artistic creativity seems to bulge from the screen. Best known for his mocking of the upper-classes (the bourgeois were clearly as fascinating to Bunuel as they were repugnant), here he stays in the slums, promoting as much sympathy for its filthy lead characters as hatred.

Jaibo is a true monster, raised without parents, he bullies his way through life, grasping any opportunity that presents itself (he even manages to seduce Pedro's lonely and overworked mother, and rob a legless man). It is Pedro who is the beating heart of the film, especially when he leaves home and we witness the state of the lower- classes from his eyes and how they are viewed (in one powerful sequence, an upper class man obviously propositions him for sex, but we only see their exchange, as we watch them through a window). Bunuel then manages to deliver not one, but two sensational endings, that manage to move and shock as much as the famous and upsetting climax to Bicycle Thieves. Bunuel would go to France to create his greatest works, but Los Olvidados displays many of the attributes that made Bunuel one of the most important directors in the history of film, as well as being a great film in its own right.
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One of my favorite directors.
dreamalladream16 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I like how Bunuel takes a common problem, injects it with dream like surrealism and give it a whole new meaning. In this film Bunuel addresses the problem of children living in poverty with poor or no family ties. We see through the children's eyes, what it's like to live on the streets in big City. Without proper role models, the children turn to El Jaibo who has just escaped from reform school. One of my favorite scenes is when Pedro breaks the 4th wall by throwing an egg at the camera. The egg is indeed on our faces.

Unfortunately, sixty years later, this film is still relevant to problems children face today.
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Great , very touching movie!!
dankagvoic6 June 2010
I've never seen a movie like this one before. The movie is a violent, but the violence is presented in the right way, there is nothing glamorous about it, like in today's typical Hollywood movies where when somebody is killed audience reaction is coldblooded. There is no hero in the movie ,everybody is presented as individuals, trying to survive.The movie well present what can happen with children, who grows without family support and love, especially without mothers love.It took me a while to adjust and try to understand Jaibo's character and reasons for his brutal actions as well as behaving afterward.The only light scene in the movie was when Pedro was sent to store by his principle, but the moment of hope for Pedro lasted just a second , until he run into Jaibo. The movie was done like a documentary, and this is why it produces many emotions.The story described seems very realistic and heartbreaking, especially in the scene where Pedro is killed and dehumanized when dump in the garbage.
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Great film!
Shannon31 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers

Luis Bunuel has done it again with "Los Olvidados." The film explores life in Mexico City's slums with a gang of juvenile delinquents.

Jaibo, an older "delinquent," leads the gang of boys in a life of thievery, dishonesty, and crime. He is extremely vengeful and not hesitant to beat the snot out of anyone who he thinks is disloyal to him.

Enter Pedro, a young boy (and former member of Jaibo's gang) trying to be good to his mother (who could care less about him) until he finds himself framed for stealing from his employer. He goes through an unspeakable hell trying to find a source of comfort and a chance to prove himself as a good kid.

The film is a great movie, despite the way it was made. And the ending was a total surprise to me. 4 out of 5 stars.
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Bunel beautifuly blends a driving plot, with brilliant portrayals, and surrealistic dream sequences.
radar-1725 November 1999
Bunel creates an examination into the lives surrounding one juvenile street gang in one of the harshest barrios of Mexico City. Bunel (who is the co-writer and director of Un Chien Andalou (1929) with Salvador Dali) shows you the harsh circumstances that the children have to live through to get by in Mexico City. Bunel beautifully blends a driving, fast paced plot, with brilliant portrayals, and surrealistic dream sequences (for background see Un Chien Andalou) to bring across the struggle within this Mexican street gang, as well as the struggle to escape the harsh system that surrounds them.

This film is also know by the name: The Young and The Damned.

. .
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Some great film techniques but will not see again
BJGarbero13 June 2011
Although this film is in no way one of my favorites, or that I ever want to view it again, there is some good film techniques used in Bunel's style of film. The great usage of lighting in this black and white movie is fantastic. The camera angles with the different sources of lighting helped enhance the dramatic elements and storyline. The dream sequence is the most memorable because the scene has many techniques used in it. The shot with the mother going toward the son's bed is slowed down in slow motion with wind blowing around her. This creates a stunning visual and draws importance to what Pedro, the son, is thinking about his mother.
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Sometimes, positive messages are redundant.
elvircorhodzic17 September 2016
LOS OLVIDADOS is a brutal display of juvenile crime, poverty and misunderstanding in a broken society. The film was made with lots of love, realism and drama. The fact is that human life is the least cost in terms of bare survival.

The director shows us a completely degraded society where poverty is commonplace, delinquency and crime are ways of survival, and children have long been lost. Everything is presented in a kind of vicious circle within which we can see the shocking violence, coincidence and irony. No character in the movie can not pick sympathy. Even the figure of the mother, who at times certainly provokes disgust. Survival is not by any means well.

The Director attacking us with real picture of poverty and misery in which the spark of life slightly off. This is certainly not the general madness. This is a representation of the "disturbed" state of consciousness induced by society. I live in a messy and sick society. I understand relationships and therefore understand this movie. Social solutions are absent. Positive messages there.

The Society in many cases lead man on the edge of the border through which it can not go further, and back can not be restored. Of course, I never excuses violence, but this is not about individuals or psychopaths.
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Not bad, but in my opinion the movie is much worse than critics suggest
guisreis25 August 2016
In this Mexican movie, Buñuel brings a great depiction of the lost youth, with no projects, committing crimes, practicing violence. Other films did the same afterwards, in my opinion with better outcomes, like Truffaut's "Les quatre cents coups" one decade afterwards, and Argentine "Pizza, birra, faso" half century later. Buñuel's concern about details which are not relevant for the story makes the film richer, and other elements important for Mexican society in those times also appear, such as sexism. Though, the movie gets a little bit tiring and the sudden end was very unsatisfactory. Not all characters behave in a way coherent to the traits shown in their development throughout the movie, particularly in the last moments.
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