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Las Hurdes (1933)

A surrealistic documentary portrait of the region of Las Hurdes, a remote region of Spain where civilisation has barely developed, showing how the local peasants try to survive without even the most basic utilities and skills.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Abel Jacquin ... (voice)
Alexandre O'Neill ... (voice)
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Storyline

In this documentary short by director Luis Buñuel he travels to Las Hurdes, a remote region of Spain which was connected to the outside world only in 1922 with the completion of a road. The residents of the area - spread across several villages - lives in poverty and in isolation from the outside world. They survive mostly on a diet of potatoes and beans with meat available only a few days a week. In fact, they eat goat meat only when one of the animals dies. Inbreeding results in a disproportionately large number of people with mental disabilities. The title refers to the fact that the residents did not know how to make bread. Written by garykmcd

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Plot Keywords:

spain | food | village | river | beehive | See All (52) »

Genres:

Documentary | Short

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Release Date:

December 1933 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

As Hurdes: Terra Sem Pão  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

This film was banned from being shown in Spain by the Spanish government from 1933-1936. See more »

Connections

Featured in Regarding Buñuel (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Fourth Symphony
(uncredited)
Written by Johannes Brahms
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User Reviews

 
Objective, crushing realism with the Bunuel touch
7 March 2004 | by See all my reviews

In a sense, I felt really bad after I saw surrealist Luis Bunuel's third film Land Without Bread (or Las Hurdes), since the imagery and cold, distanced, but un-cannily sympathetic narrative reminded me of the commercials on TV for starving children in Africa and abroad. For a person such as myself seeing this for the first time in this year, when technologies and replenishments are never far from reach, this village pulls at one's heart-strings, and not just in the manipulative Sally Struthers-esque style either.

Bunuel uses half an hour to create a historical document with the emotional weight of Resnais Night and Fog, however for a different cause. Though Resnais was making an indictment of society not paying attention at the time to the horrors of the holocaust, and Bunuel is showing day-to-day life in a primitive society, the two films share a quality- these are views of humanity that Government does (or rather did) suppress, and at the least it brought me to an existential catharsis. How is it that people such as the Hurdanos stand to live like this?

But that's not to say Land Without Bread is as bleak as a Bergman film being screened for a group of methadone addicts. It is, after all, a Bunuel film, and the sense of surrealism that certainly didn't die down after his great works of art Un Chien Andalou and L'Age D'Or is present. The way he cuts to certain images, however real as can be, take on at times a sub-reality. If one ventures into this film not knowing it was conceived as a filmed document, and is perhaps cynical to believe the stone buildings and desolate, starving, doomed-looking people aren't residents of the area, one could think this is another fictional attempt by Bunuel to take jabs (vicious ones) at the Spanish government (leader Franco, who later changed his policies over the region).

It IS real, however, and once it started to dawn on me that the editing and some of the camera moves were a kin to surrealism, though over all these stark, true images, I felt the power of it and of the desperation. Now, seventy-two years after it was current events, Land Without Bread stands not only as a brief history and (as Bunuel considers it) geography lesson, but as an artistic triumph- Bunuel nails the points down and leaves faces and landscapes that etched into one's consciousness. You may feel sad after the film is over, or maybe glad that you're living in the time and place you are now. Any way to look at it, it's a worthwhile film to see.


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