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El Gran Wyoming,
Although I own practically half of his filmography, I have only watched three Carlos Saura (whom I saw in the flesh at the 2012 European Film Awards which were held over here in Malta!) movies so far WEEPING FOR A BANDIT (1964; featuring a cameo from Luis Buñuel), ANTONIETA (1982; co-written by Jean-Claude Carrière) and BUÑUEL AND KING SOLOMON'S TABLE (2001); however, being aware that it was going to be Saura's 82nd birthday presently, I decided it was high time I watched a handful more. The film under review a slow-burning but powerful anti-Fascist allegory that is all the more remarkable for being made under Spanish dictator Franco's regime! is the one which made his name, having won him (among others) the Best Director prize at that year's Berlin Film Festival.
The plot deals with three Spanish Civil War veterans who return after many years and with a younger relative to their old battleground (a skeleton of one Loyalist is proudly exhibited in a nearby shed) ostensibly to hunt rabbits but, during the course of the hot, tedious day spent in alcoholic consumption and hidden agendas, old wounds and prejudices are fatally rekindled. Acting as their trapper and cook are the crippled poacher (of the landowner in the group) and his adolescent niece: their 'disdainful' status is reflected in the disease that is already decimating the rabbit population and the landowner taking on a much younger mistress after his wife left him. From the small, uniformly fine cast, award-winning Jose' Maria Prado (a familiar face from several Art-house and Euro-Cult movies) playing the envious, trigger-happy, Sci-Fi nut of the group is a particular stand-out.
Being an animal lover, I was wary that the obligatory hunting and trapping sequences were going to be the whole show here: luckily, it was not the case but when these do come on (gleefully participated in by the landowner's black dog and ironically set to light-headed Spanish pop ditties blasting from a portable radio), they are certainly harrowing to watch: a ferret violently taunts a cowering rabbit in his hole out into the open where the hunters lie in wait for it; the same dutiful ferret is soon deliberately dispatched by the self-made businessman of the group; and, most memorably, a rabbit defiantly stops its flight for a few seconds amid a hail of bullets before being blasted off in a cloud of fur and dust.
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