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If I would believe in a god who created man as his equal, Mario Camus would be one of the first people to come in mind to make me understand how powerful that god must be. 'Los santos inocentes' is a masterpiece of European cinema. The movie brings us back to times in Spain where most people were nothing more than property of the few rich. The 'master' even had the right to be the one to make the daughters of his serfs lose their virginity. A man and wife living such a cruel life, with trouble enough of their own, still open up their house for the wife's brother Azarias (Francisco Rabal), when he -at old age- loses his job. And Rabal gives us a performance of simplicity and joy that we will never ever forget. Although I've heard of people who found it difficult to see the beauty through all the misery, to me this is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. Possibly also the very best.
The last twenty five years of Spanish filmography have produced a
number of titles which have indulged in sociological themes, mostly
using the years of the Franco Régime as a background when not a mere
scapegoat. El Sur (Victor Erice)(qv), Las Ratas (Giménez Rico)(qv), Las
Bicicletas son para el Verano (Jaime Chávarri) as well as several by
the now deceased Pilar Miró, come to mind. But perhaps none reach the
powerful endorsement achieved in Los Santos Inocentes, carefully and
predictably directed by Mario Camus. Faithfully transferred from the
book by Miguel Delibes, also author of Las Ratas, as well as singularly
impressive narratives such as Cinco Horas con Mario, a true tour de
force in contemporary literature, and the intensely lyrical and moving
El Camino, Camus inspired the principal actors - Paco Rabal, Alfredo
Landa and Terele Pávez - into producing some memorable scenes.
Scenes of illiterate peasants obeying their master, landowner, insensible to everything except his passion for hunting; peasants who were so hugely grateful for the handful of pennies so compassionately handed out by the rich duchess; peasants who grovelled in the filth of their mean shack and could barely write their own names. Spain: about 1962 if the registration number of the big black Mercedes is anything to go by. Spain, in the region called Extremadura, which even today is the poorest part of the country. Spain, governed by a dictator who himself was extremely uncultured.
Camus, armed with the simple but sincere exposition in Delibes' novel, manages to show this plight, but without the tremendism so frequent in Spanish books or films; without any soured feelings, but dispassionately, like a surgeon operating for the five hundredth time on gall-stones. The story was there to be told and not sympathized over. Not for the pop-corn eating public, more for the discerning cinema-goer who can give what the film demands: attention to details. The incision is precise, exact, giving greater credibility to this little masterpiece.
In the opening scenes of this movie, I couldn't tell what century it
was. The peasant family living in their hovel with no electricity or
running water and their subservient attitude toward the master made me
wonder if this movie was taking place in the 19th century. But no, a
car appeared, a model from the 1960s, so I knew that it took place in
relatively recent times.
Filmed in muted, grayish tones reminiscent of a Goya painting, this film gives one an idea of what life must have been like, not only for Spanish peasants in the Franco era but also for medieval serfs and slaves in the pre-Civil War South. The master and mistress treat their own whims as more important than the peasants' needs, require them to act and speak in a subservient manner, act as if small favors are huge concessions (The family gets to move into a house with electricity!), and literally treat the men of the family as if they were hunting dogs, forcing them to fetch the game that the master spends an inordinate amount of time shooting. In one case, a man is forced to fetch while trying to recover from a broken leg. When foreign visitors criticize the master and mistress for their treatment of the peasants, they make a big show of demonstrating that the peasants are happy and can write their own names (but only because they have just been taught).
But the world is changing, and even the meekest peasant may reach his limit...
Unfortunately, this film has never been released on DVD for Region 1, and the Region 2 version is out of print, so few people will be able to see this brutal but fascinating glimpse of the twilight of an era when Spanish society was composed of countless little dictatorships.
This intelligent drama based on a Miguel Delibes' novel and screenplay
by Antonio Larreta is perfectly acted by a strong cast and masterfully
directed . It depicts a brooding study about rich and poor society ,
making a shattering accusation against the powerful class who cares on
selfish occupations more than help families in distress . Somewhere in
the Extremadura region ( Spain ) , in the 60s where still rules
medieval traditions , archaism and feudalism . Paco ( Alfredo Landa)
and his wife Régula (Terele Pavez) along with their tree sons - one of
them is backward - form a very unfortunate family . They work as tenant
farmers for wealthy baron land ( Agustin Gonzalez , Agata Lys ) of a
¨Cortijo¨ . The older sons can not go to school because the ¨Señorito¨
needs their employment as servants . When Regula's brother ( Francisco
Rabal) is fired by another landowner ( Jose Guardiola ) where he has
worked for several years , then he settles down along with the family
and the events get worse .
This over-the-top movie contains a relentless criticism to high class and the human exploitation and an attack against the rural life during the Francisco Franco time of the 60s . It's a thought-provoking drama about sacrifice, familiar love and feeling with interesting character studio of a varied assortment of individuals . It's a brilliant and touching film though sometimes is slow moving and tiring but is developed with intelligence and sensibility. In the picture are treated ethic and moral themes narrated with great sense of fairness and ductility .T his top-notch movie featuring a magnificent acting by whole casting . Awesome Alfredo Landa as the servile Paco and his wife a sensational Terele Pavez . Enticing and sensational roles with first rate performances as the cocky Señorito Ivan exceptionally acted by Juan Diego , the marchioness Mary Carrillo and her daughter played by Maribel Martin also producer along with the early deceased Julian Mateos . Of course Francisco Rabal who steals the show as Azaria always shouting : ¨ Bonita Milano¨ . Both players , Francisco Rabal and Alfredo Landa , deservedly won Ex-aequo prize the best actors in Cannes Film Festival and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention to filmmaker Mario Camus and the picture was Nominated Golden Palm .
Furthermore , ample shots on cloudy and nebulous skies and prairies plenty of trees filmed on location in Alburquerque, Zafra , Merida ,Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain with fine cinematography by Hans Burman . Atmospheric and evocative musical score by usual Anton Garcia Abril. This excellent motion picture is dedicated to makeup artist Julian Ruiz and stunningly directed by Mario Camus . Mario is an expert on interesting dramas as proved in ¨ The house of Bernard Alba¨ , ¨La Colmena¨ , ¨The days of the past ¨ and many others . Rating : Better than average , it's a riveting film though very depressing and downbeat . Essential and indispensable watching .
This film will shake you to the bottom. It is truly unusual to come across a movie where deep sociological, psychological and historical issues are dealt with so soberly. This movie shows quietly all the horror and brutality of rural (feudal) life in southern Spain during the hard years of the Franco dictatorship. This film, and the novel it is based on (by M. Delibes) pays humble homage to the history of millions who were silently oppressed by the class of rural landowners that supported Franco. Now, what performances by Juan Diego, Alfredo Landa and Paco Rabal. I really recommend it to anyone interested in realist art.
In this film, you can see a important part of the recent history of my great country. This film is about the life in a big "cortijo" after civil war in 50-60´S, you can see the lives between rich people, like "señorito Ivan", and poor, like "Paco el Bajo", and how are the relations between this kind of people,they are near to the slavery. Besides, you can see poverty´s ravage, and the many different kind of familiar´s drama.
This is one of the best Spanish movies I have seen. For many reasons. First, the story, which is based on a great novel by the brilliant writer Miguel Delibes, can be seen from different points of view: as the characters in themselves, or as the history of the spanish society through two generations. Second, the actors do an incredible performance (Paco Rabal and Alfredo Landa are really fantastic, not to mention Juan Diego, Mary Carrillo, Terele Pávez...). Third, the scenes' directing and editing rise to the occasion. The result is a fresh, intelligent and charming film that we won't forget for a long time. Perhaps Belén Ballesteros and Juan Sachez's performances aren't worthy of the occasion, but that's the least of my worries.
The story takes place in Spain during the sixties, in a farmhouse in
Extremadura, a peasant family living miserably under the hand of the
landowner. Their life are renunciation and sacrifice and obedience.
Your fate is sealed and only something violent and unexpected can break
This film is a magnificent portrait of the deep Spain, where we ran into a raw and moving story of the master Delibes, which is reflected in a society where the habits of the time such as machismo and despotism were dented in a way injurious.
Camus introduces us to this beautiful story, where the interpretation of Paco Rabal like a man devalued in a society where it does not fit due to his mental disability is excellent. The actor knows shine in this film which shows great acting skills and transports us to an endearing character to the particular reality that surrounds him. Thus, we are dealing with two distinct parts in the film, a side is more bitter and cruel human being, where manipulation seems to be bottomless, and the other side we are surprised with innocence in its purest form, with a character who collects the most simple and complex human kindness, on the side where the difference between bad and good does not seem so great.
If all these elements, we add a job perfectly credible supporting cast and a memorable soundtrack, we get this fantastic movie that really shows some human characters, where feelings prevail and in which the viewer will feel in true harmony within the fabric that makes Mario Camus.
Rabal's performance is probably the best and most powerful who has given Spanish cinema, whose phrase "Milana Bonita" has passed into the history of our cinema. The other outstanding performance is Alfredo Landa, so naturally it really seems to be acting. Landa, so wasted in many Spanish films 60 and 70, shown in a handful of films that is a huge player.
Mario Camus's direction is also excellent. Both way to bring history, maintaining at all times the pace and direction of actors, he yet get even more things that explicitly include in the film.
The DVD I received from Corte Ingles includes a trailer for "Boda de
(Lorca) and this film is similar in spirit, but with even greater
This story is reminiscent of Cela's "Familia Duarte", and indeed the DVD
includes a trailer to Cela's "Colmena" also, though I haven't seen that
I agree with the strong evaluations and comments of other viewers. I'll add that I enjoyed the handling of time in the film, through intermittent flashbacks and juxtapositions of modern elements - e.g., the automobiles driven by the landowners - with the nearly stone-age level of the protagonist family.
Yet for me, the level of dramatic tension became, frankly, too great to bear. I don't know how I could have handled it in a theater. Given I had mouse control, I interrupted it a few times for relief. Then, about two-thirds through, I forwarded the film to see the end. There are occasions when social realism can produce a tale of social horror harder to watch and bear than anything Hollywood's chainsaw boys ever dreamed of.
The acting and cinematography are excellent. I can imagine viewers trying to laugh at Azarias' (Francisco Rabal) rustic charm. His performance is unforgettable - especially as he, like a hand of fate (azar) delivers the much-needed catharsis near the end - but I, and I presume most, will surely view him as a charming and touching victim, fleeing reality to the extent his old age permits - until a certain cruel act drives him to action.
I would have preferred a balancing of the harshness of this film with more moments of beauty to serve as relief, as in the French Manon (e.g., Jean de Florette) films. But here, the actual social conditions were far harsher - "epoca negra" stuff at its worst - and I presume that to add such relief would have been untrue to history. For me, Familia Duarte and Boda de Sangre sufficed.
I will conclude in recommending some of Delibes' recent works. He has a wonderful sense of humor and a great versatility of style that enables him to relate even everyday events in the most charming and entertaining way. It's hard to believe that the same man who wrote Santos Inocentes also wrote "Diario de un Jubilado" and "Mis Amigas las Truchas" or "Las Perdices de Domingo". And hard to believe how far Spain and Europe have come.
Back to the beginning of the 20th century, the countryside of the
Iberian peninsula was controlled by land tenants who enjoyed a set of
privileges that would be considered more typical of the middle ages
than of modern times. As for example, having enslaved families working
on their farms.
Now this is obviously an issue that 2 actual European Union countries like Spain and Portugal don't like to be reminded of. Nobody likes to remember that less than 50 years ago this was still a reality. So with time it became a non-issue, an unsponsored reality.
What Camus does with this movie is remarkable. Not only by his technique and the end result of this film, but mainly because it gives voice - and more importantly, it gives images - to this hundred of anonymous stories that were never portrayed before with such care.
A must see.
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