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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).
The movie is an adaptation of the well-known novel "Lazarillo de Tormes", which tells us the story of a kid in the streets of Toledo ad the end of XVI century. The adaptation, based on a text from Fernando Fernán Gómez (for theatre), is hard, good and moving. The quality of the actors is indubitable good (except Beatriz Rico, but her character is by far the worst of the film). The story, although quite confusing, with continuous flashbacks (a very great difference between the movie and the book), results interesting an entertaining. The problem, probably is that, compared with the original theatre play, the movie is not so strong, so powerful as the play. Despite the fact that there are the same actors, the result is not so depth and touching, actually, is a little disappointing, I expected enjoying it as much as the theatre play, but, despite is not bad, the movie is not as good as the original play. If you have not seen it, and you have read the book, maybe you'll like it, because the film is not bad, but I expected something better remembering the play.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lazaro, a man from poor origins, is made to go with a blind man by his
impoverished mother. Since she could not keep him, the next best thing
was to made him go into the world to try to learn something about life
and eventually land a position that would allow him to live with the
minimum of comfort. The time was the early sixteenth century in Toledo,
Spain. The story follows Lazaro's adventures from childhood to early
The boy grows up but has not been able to get anything decent. After the blind man, he is taken by a priest that is such a miser, he locks the food in a trunk, keeping the key around his neck to prevent anyone from stealing from him. After a fiasco with this holy man, Lazaro is discovered by an influential friar who sees in the young man as ripe for his sexual desires, something that Lazaro repels.
Finding a good master takes Lazaro to try a few positions until his good fortune brings him to the Arch Priest's attention. First, Lazaro becomes the salesman for the cleric, but he asks his boss to recommend him for the position of town crier, that will guarantee him a steady job and a chance to work for the crown. The Arch Priest has another reason in mind, he wants Lazaro to marry his lover, Teresa, as the poor man will serve as the perfect way for him to keep on seeing the beautiful woman, now a married woman.
"Lazaro de Tormes" is a picaresque anonymous novel that has survived the passing of the centuries. Brought to the screen by one of Spain's most beloved actors, Fernando Fernan Gomez, who directed with the help of Jose Luis Garcia Sanchez. The film was filmed right where the original takes place. The elaborate production relied on Luis Ramirez's art direction, with an excellent cinematography from veteran cameraman Javier Salmones who captures those dark interiors in all its glory. The musical score is credited to Roque Banos.
Rafael Alvarez plays the adult Lazaro with panache. He gives the character what was needed. Karra Elejalde, another busy actor in the Spanish cinema portrays the Arch Priest. Lovely Beatriz Rico is seen as Teresa. Francisco Rabal, completely disfigured after his horrible accident made a good blind man. The large cast blends well and followed the instructions of Mr. Fernan Gomez, who knew well what he wanted to show his audience.
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