A classic picaro is lovingly transferred to the screen...
The classic Spanish picaro is lovingly transferred to the screen in this marvelous adaptation of one of its first prototypes preceding the immortal Don Quixote. In the opening frames the beautiful brooding quality of the Spanish landscape is established as a fitting background to the events which transpire after Lazarillo, a poor boy, is sold into bondage by his mother to the first of a succession of masters. Thus begin the travels of Lazarillo as he learns to live by his wits, first with a greedy blind beggar who beats and starves him. He soon learns to outwit his mean-spirited captor in some delightfully realized sequences and eventually becomes an accomplished street-wise thief who survives quite handily through petty crime. Only one of his succession of masters is kind to him, the impoverished threadbare nobleman (engagingly portrayed by Juan Jose Menendez) who desperately tries to appear eligible to make an advantageous marriage with one of the daughters of the local grandees, but whose pretensions are cruelly mocked as he and his new servant Lazarillo slowly starve together. Cruel necessity causes the canny Lazarillo to leave this most favorite master and move on to yet other unscrupulous patrons and more petty crime in the shadow of the always threatening Inquisition. His travails afford opportunities for much biting social and political satire sharply observed along the way. Lazarillo finally seems to find a good place among a roving roguish company of puppeteers, but just as their wagon merrily rolls away with him as their newly acquired apprentice we are informed that before reaching the age of fourteen, Lazarillo will undoubtedly be hanged for his life of crime.
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