Paquita and her brother Venancio, both single and childish, live in a small town near Madrid. Their bossy eldest sister Ignacia, also an old maid, dominates them. One night, Paquita hears ... See full summary »
Paquita and her brother Venancio, both single and childish, live in a small town near Madrid. Their bossy eldest sister Ignacia, also an old maid, dominates them. One night, Paquita hears her sister tell somebody about her intention to sell all the family wealth. Once the money is gathered, she wishes to travel to Paris with the mysterious person and get rid of her brother and sister. Terrified, Paquita and Venancio confront their sister's aggressions and kill her accidentally. Written by
Originally titled `El Crimen de Mazarrón', which was suppressed by the censorship of the times, `El Extraño Viaje' remains a surprising element in the midst of a rather negative period of time in Spanish contemporary history, artistically speaking. The surprise lies more in its content than in any other aspects of the film per se. However, this piece, directed by Fernando Fernán Gómez, arose from the mysterious appearance of two corpses on the beach of Mazarrón, Murcia, as mentioned by Carlos Saura in a conversation with Fernán Gómez, who anecdotically said that a film could be made out of such an occurence. Fernán Gomez took his word for it.
So with the misleadingly mysterious title of `El Extraño Viaje', filmed in quaintly-styled black and white around the then peaceable and rural towns of Loeches, Madrid and La Pola, Valencia, today localities which are anything but peaceable and rural, was born. Two rather backward middle-aged brother and sister - nice playing here by Rafaela Aparicio completely overriding an unconvincing Jesús Franco (aka Jess Franco and about a hundred other pseudonyms, no doubt with the intention of covering up his own mediocrity, anyway) live in the unfortunate circumstance of their exceedingly rich elder sister's care in a huge mansion house. But when she decides she wants to sell up everything and travel the wide world - the Carribean, Paris ooh-la-la - her younger brother and sister get overly worried.
The `noir' aspect of film-making is hugely present with just that touch of ironic or even sarcastic humour which converts the telling almost into the horror genre; but that in itself was not the purpose, shall we say, of the film. Rather, the story itself and the locations, embroidered in a nostalgic black and white back-cloth, is a kind of wistful sojourn - especially seen from our stance near 40 years later - which intelligently combined with almost whimsical situations and `noir' humour so as to underline but not hamper any other gruesome aspects.
This certainly becomes clear when they enjoy a `good strong wine with plenty of body'. Excruciating, too say the least, and nicely juxtaposed in the development.
Carlos Larrañaga did not exactly impress with his performance: he seemed to lack that something which entoned with the other characters around him in the midst of the goings-on; his playing with Tota Alba lacked synthesis. However, Tota Alba was good, but Rafaela Aparicio was even better. Many of the lesser actors were really tremendous! Good thinking here by the director.
Yes, this film was a nice surprise, hailing as it does from those years which were rather blank.
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