An unstable young woman escapes from a reformatory for very, very wayward girls and deceptively finds shelter in the kind home of a frighteningly nice and decent family. Little by little, ... See full summary »
Víctor Manuel Mendoza
Hell-bent on revenge, the cocky reform-school runaway, El Jaibo, returns to his old neighbourhood in post-World-War-II Mexico City's poor and squalid slums, to reunite with his faithful gang of juvenile delinquents and street urchins. However, as the dangerous ringleader lives and breathes retribution, his destructive obsession to find the informant who supposedly sent him to jail will intricately interweave his bitter fate with that of Pedro, his weak and unwitting accessory, in a despicable act of pure evil. In the end, are humans inherently good or bad--and above all--is immorality contingent with society?Written by
When it was released in Mexico in 1950, its theatrical commercial run only lasted for three days due to the enraged reactions from the press, government, and upper and middle class audiences. See more »
[addressing his mother, just before she leaves him at the Farm School]
Just now you remember that I'm your son.
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Not just an important note for Bunuel, but for neo-realism as well
Los Olvidados, translated as The Young and the Damned, is a treatise on the street-life of kids in Mexico City. There are at least three characters who are of focus here, and three others on the sidelines with equal importance: El Jaibo, a rough young man who's grown up on the street his whole life, and who's picked up more than his share of wicked, ego-driven habits; "Big Eyes" as he's called by a Blind Man (he's credited as Lost Boy on this site) is a kid whose lost his father, and is taken in by the old-fashioned, hardened old man, who lives next to the girl Meche; and Pedro, the hero, is deep down a good soul, but with a side that just wants to roam the streets, at the carelessness of his estranged mother, who like her son is poverty stricken. Pedro, one day, witnesses Jaibo commit a killing of a squealer, and this puts him in a bad position, as his relationship with his mother unfolds, and so on.
All through Los Olvidados, based on real events and real people from the streets, I kept on feeling for these people in the same way I did for the characters I saw in the neo-realism movies like La Terra Trema and Shoeshine. Here are people who are so starkly depicted who can practically smell the streets coming off of them. That they are non-professionals in real settings, like in those movies, and the stories are such simple yet heart-felt, goes to show the mastery of Luis Bunuel. While he became infamous for such films in the thirties like Un Chien Andalou and L'Age D'Or, and later for such originals like Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and the obscure Phantom of Liberty (the climax in that is something that could've inspired most gross-out comedies of late), this film displays his worth as a writer/director outside of the reputation he garnered in that he tells us the story, with the little details and complex emotions that the Italian directors were able to bring forth, while every once in a while reminding us that it is his brand of movie-making at work.
And, un-like his other works, he does this ever-so fleetingly that I only caught his style creeping in twice: the first was a tip of the hat to his surrealistic roots, when Pedro has a dream that seems to correspond perfectly to his truths and the truths of the neighborhood as he asks her why (in an earlier scene) she didn't give him any meat. She brings over a large piece of meat, and as she brings it to him a hand creeps up (Jaibo) that grabs at him to take it away. There is just enough imagery and just enough message that the dream works as one of Bunuel's best sequences. The second time was a very brief moment when Pedro is working with some chickens and eggs, and at one point Pedro looks at the camera and throws an egg at the lens. Indeed, this could be seen as out of place for such a straight-forward drama on torrents of youth that resonate generation after generation (this is inspired by neo-realism to an extent, yet probably inspired the likes of Clockwork Orange and even the recent City of God), however we get an inkling of what Bunuel is trying to tell us- these are real people in real settings and in a somewhat melodramatic story set in times of economic drought and such, and feel for them as I do - but don't forget, it's only a movie.
In my opinion, Los Olvidados should be discovered by movie buffs, since it is possibly Bunuel's most accessible work, but perhaps Discreet Charm would still be the first to see if wanting to get the Bunuel vein.
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