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Long Live Death (1971)
"Viva la muerte" (original title)

 -  Drama | War  -  12 May 1971 (France)
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At the end of the Spanish civil war, Fando, a boy of about ten, tries to make sense of war and his father's arrest. His mother is religious, sympathetic to the Fascists; his father is ... See full summary »


(as Arrabal)


(by), (novel), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Anouk Ferjac ...
La Tante
Núria Espert ...
La Mère
Mahdi Chaouch ...
Ivan Henriques ...
Le Père
Jazia Klibi ...
Suzanne Comte ...
La Grand-mère
Jean-Louis Chassigneux ...
Le Grand-père
Mohamed Bellasoued ...
Víctor García ...
Fando - 20 ans


At the end of the Spanish civil war, Fando, a boy of about ten, tries to make sense of war and his father's arrest. His mother is religious, sympathetic to the Fascists; his father is accused of being a Red. Fando discovers that his mother may have aided in his father's arrest. Sometimes we witness Fando imagining explanations for what's going on; sometimes we see him at play, alone or with his friend Thérèse. Oedipal fantasies and a lad's natural curiosity about sex and death mix with his search for his mother's nature and his father's fate. Will Fando survive the search? Written by <>

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Drama | War


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12 May 1971 (France)  »

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Long Live Death  »

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1.66 : 1
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Featured in Jonas in the Desert (1994) See more »


by Grethe Agatz
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Gorgeously Horrific
14 December 2008 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Viva La Muerte is the first instalment in a trilogy of surrealistic / political films by Fernando Arrabal. Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Arrabal, Viva La Muerte follows ten-year-old Fando as he explores friendship, sexuality, betrayal and death in the midst of the Spanish civil war.

After Fando's father is arrested for treason, his mother tells him that he committed suicide in prison but Fando is suspicious and seeks to learn the truth. He soon discovers that his mother was responsible for his father's arrest and that he is alive and well.

When Fando is not making effigies for his disturbed little puppet theatre he is either sticking close to his mothers side, having gruesome hallucinations or hanging out with his little gal pal Therese, who is never without her pet turkey. The hallucination sequences are some of the best scenes in the film, they range from Arrabal's obsession with defiling religious iconography to Fando fantasising about flooding the town with his urine and his mother taking a dump on his incarcerated father's head. These scenes were shot on video then filtered through various abstract colour schemes which produces some very unsettling visuals.

La Muerte's opening credits sequence features some absolutely stunning and horrific Bosch-esquire illustrations by Roland Topor, co-founder of the Panic Movement along with Arrabal and Jodorowsky, accompanied by a sweet children's refrain that really sets the tone for what is about to come.

Fando's relationship with his mother and aunt both seem to have Oedipal / incestuous undertones, which are especially notable in the scene where his aunt forces him to flagellate her, during which she violently grabs & twists his scrotum. Although, scenes like this and another wherein a soldier shoots a "faggot" poet in the asshole seem like nothing compared to the closing sequence where a bull is graphically slaughtered and Fando's mother writhes ecstatically in the hot fountain of blood, smearing her face with it then she proceeds to sew an unknown man into the carcass of the bull. Later on the bull's cadaver is castrated and his testicle sac emptied onto the ground. If that isn't enough for all you PETA sympathisers there's also a bunch of lambs mercilessly butchered.

Undoubtedly the scenes of animal slaughter may turn a lot of viewers off, but they are not used in the way that a film like, say, Cannibal Holocaust uses them. There is also footage of open heart surgery, but in the hands of Arrabal all of these easily exploitable elements actually go toward the films credit and fit perfectly within the perverse, violent and fantastic world that is Viva La Muerte.

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