Los santos inocentes (1984)
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
That there will always be social strata is a sad truth, but to be drawn like this seems an insult to intelligence. To say that all the rich are pigs, inhuman, badly born, etc. I think of a cynicism of the nineteenth century, as well as saying that all the poor are like puts them in the film seems another ridiculous.
As a movie I think a great movie but the falsehoods and insults to the intelligence I do not like. Like at any moment in life there are good and bad people but they could already have put some good rich and some poor with bad milk. This putting stereotypes seems to me as bad as instilling bad education to people.
When I saw this movie for the first time, my father, who had lived with people working in his home all his life, felt very insulted. The moment Landa kneels and smells the ground, even me who was small was strange to me, my father offended. I know rich people today and I can say they are the most educated and respectful people I know.
The film all have to say it seems very good, as a film, but also must be said that Spanish cinema, sadly has always been used to make politics, pamphlet, to one side, never mess with the other side, as if they do In U.S.A. But of course they do not depend on the subsidy