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Fernando Fernán Gómez,
Interesting reading of this anonymous medieval classic
More or less based on the `picaresque' novel `Lazarillo de Tormes', which, despite being obligatory reading in most high school literature classes, is anonymous, appearing in 1554 in Alcalá de Henares, Burgos and Antwerp, but in differing versions. Thus the tale predates Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra.
Although Rafael Álvarez is only cast as the lead actor, it was he who in effect nurtured the making of this film, convincing producers and distributors and a couple of very well known directors. Curiously Fernando Fernán Gómez had already made a version for live theatre, and it is more on this reading that the film is constructed.
Good playing, here, especially by Álvarez as Lázaro, and Agustín González as the drunkard Machuca is splendid indeed. Francisco (Paco) Rabal is a welcome sight as `El Ciego'. A dozen years earlier this grand old actor - now departed - starred with Álvarez in the wonderful TV series `Juncal', in which Fernando Fernán Gómez also took part.
Nicely filmed in the old Jewish quarters of Toledo and around the sparsely populated areas of Guadalajara, there are many excellent scenes inside dark taverns full of troubadors and `juglares', and fine wenches serving out wine by the jugful, though some of the clientele prefer drinking straight from the barrel! Good 16th Century stuff, but I personally would have preferred a little more of the good 16th Century Castilian - not 21st Century Spanish.
How much of the music is originally by Roque Baños is difficult to decide. I heard some very authentic-sounding pieces based on `Conde Claros' as well as some lute pieces which could have been by Luis de Narváez or even Alonso de Mudarra, as well as something which sounded like one of the innumerable forms of `La Folia Española'.
For students of Spanish Literature the film will not be of much help; try `Lazarillo de Tormes' published by Ediciones Cátedra and edited by Joseph V. Ricapito (Indiana University).
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