15 user 21 critic

El sol del membrillo (1992)

The artist Antonio López tries to capture the sunlight hitting his quince tree all autumn, but the struggle seems futile.


Víctor Erice (as Victor Erice)


Víctor Erice (as Victor Erice), Antonio López (as Antonio Lopez)
7 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Antonio López Antonio López ... Himself (as Antonio Lopez)
María Moreno María Moreno ... Herself (as Maria Moreno)
Enrique Gran Enrique Gran ... Himself
María López María López ... Herself (as Maria Lopez)
Carmen López Carmen López ... Herself (as Carmen Lopez)
Elisa Ruiz Elisa Ruiz ... Herself
José Carretero José Carretero ... Himself (as Jose Carretero)
Amalia Avia Amalia Avia ... Herself
Lucio Muñoz Lucio Muñoz ... Himself
Esperanza Parada Esperanza Parada ... Herself
Julio López Hernández Julio López Hernández ... Himself (as Julio Lopez Hernandez)
Fan Xiao Ming Fan Xiao Ming ... Himself
Yan Sheng Dong Yan Sheng Dong ... Himself
Janusz Pietrzkiak Janusz Pietrzkiak ... Himself
Marek Domagala Marek Domagala ... Himself


The artist, Antonio Lopez, tries to paint the quince tree he planted some time back in his garden. Throughout his life, he has worked on the same theme many times, almost as if it were a physical necessity. Every year, with the arrival of autumn, this need resurfaces. The artist's work has never represented the sun's rays between the leaves of the tree, and, given his characteristic realist style, he tries to achieve this. But he goes about it in the same way, without consciously pursuing a finished picture - he just wants to be close to the fragile lavish tree for a few weeks. Written by L.H. Wong <lhw@sfs.org.sg>

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Plot Keywords:

agriculture | art | painting | painter | See All (4) »


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Spanish | Polish | Mandarin

Release Date:

2 April 1993 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dream of Light See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Featured in Sodankylä ikuisesti: Valon draama (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

An essay in idleness
21 March 2017 | by BaceserasSee all my reviews

A documentary of a painter, painting, "Dream of Light" is at the same time a work of fiction. That's how it seems to go whenever a documentary takes narrative form: even the most straightforward story can only come about by shaping; and where you have shaping, fiction will get in, like dust – you can't keep it out. You might as well welcome it (fiction, that is, not dust so much); consider it a feature, not a bug.

As you watch the artist in Victor Erice's film set up his painting apparatus, you may wonder where all his meticulousness is to lead. He is painting en plein air, but no Impressionist he; he carries Academic studio practice out of doors, and the lengths he goes to might give even some Academicians the quivers. The more you see of his method, the more there is to question; but given no explanation all you can do is watch and wait.

The time is summer, the subject is a quince tree in the garden. The painter, an elderly gent, goes about his work without hesitation or hurry: his confidence is palpable; it seems he knows what he's doing. The garden where he sets up is tiny, cramped between the wall to the street and the wall of his house. He starts by constructing a box- like frame around his tree. He puts dabs of white paint, then more and more of them, on branch and twig, leaf and fruit: a constellation of dots. A taut white string traverses and segments his field of vision, and a plumb-line, defining the vertical, segments it again. He locks and marks the position of his easel's legs, and the height of the rail on which his canvas rests. When he takes up his stance to paint, he drives nails into the ground marking where his feet go. His purpose, with all this marking and measuring, is to find his place, over the course of the work – each day to find the exact place where he left off the previous day, despite all the changes brought on by weather, accident, or growth of the tree. He's in it for the long haul: you can almost hear him saying, I mean to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.

Given the artist's structural, architectural set-up, you might think when he finally addressed himself to his canvas he'd first reach to the structure of his subject: that his brush in a stroke or two would find the spine in the quince's mottled trunk, or the essential geometry in its tangle of limbs. Or alternatively that he'd lay on areas of color, or of light and dark, to establish his picture's space, then work to refine it toward completion. What you wouldn't guess is that he'd begin, as he does, with cautious, abruptly punctuated strokes, to draw, in ghost gray, a short segment of a branch, as it presents itself to him near front and center of his tree – with a stubby bit of twig extending up from it; and a forlorn little leaf, half-folded back upon itself. More like something from the margin of a sketchbook, this botanical detail floats, alone, in the middle of his blank white canvas: floats there for days it seems, as he works at an inchworm crawl, with rubbing and corrections, to get the bark ridges just right, the texture. This is drawing; and please, sir, when will we have painting?

Are we even supposed to ask? Whether the artist ever used this method before, and whether it proved successful, we can't know. Has he set himself up to fail? Erice quiets us with the sensual calm that holds the scene and all in it. And the very definiteness of the old man's activity wants to persuade us that all will be well. So does his whole demeanor: he wears such a lived-in face; and is too absorbed in what he's doing to put on a show for us. Visitors drop by; conversation is desultory, a bit of reminiscence mixed in; the tip-tap of workers' hammers somewhere off. Summer seems endless, though it's passing away. The camera, like a patient naturalist, observes, does not interrogate – and the artist-subject, being asked no questions, answers none, but simply goes about his business.

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