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Practically unseen Carlos Saura film deserves resurrection
At long last I was able to see this film last night as part of a(n) (incomplete) Carlos Saura retrospective sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City. Having been a big fan of the director's CRIA CUERVOS (1976) and ELISA, VIDA MIA (1977), both of which were shown commercially in the United States and warmly received, I was dismayed when LOS OJOS VENDADOS (1978) received no theatrical release and never turned up as part of previous Carlos Saura retrospectives in NYC.
Saura's collaborations with Geraldine Chaplin are the shining lights of his career and LOS OJOS VENDADOS is no exception. Her presence in this film is indispensable to its success, and she is never less than mesmerizing. I would need at least another viewing to begin to appreciate fully the film's layers and nuances -- the ways it links falling in love with the disintegration of existing relationships; persistence of memories with dreams and nightmares; persecution by self, others and society with political terrorism.
The film is filled with unforgettable imagery and haunting moments. Except for two overlong and overdone sequences (ironically, one of which is a dance scene given that Saura's reputation today rests mostly on his dance films), LOS OJOS VENDADOS is one of Saura's strongest films. The final 5 minutes are unforgettable.
By the time he made LOS OJOS VENDADOS, Saura had definitely developed an identifiable style of his own, and it is a pity that his 1970s films are largely ignored and/or unavailable today. Unseen in New York for 28 years, LOS OJOS VENDADOS drew only a handful of viewers at the showing I saw. The film cries out for restoration (the print the Film Society managed to unearth was faded pink and had a botched subtitling job). It is perhaps an even more relevant and powerful film now than it was in 1978.
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