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Manoel de Oliveira
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Any intention of weighing up the worth of any interpretation of the complicated personality of Federico García Lorca's YERMA obliges anyone with a long enough memory to go back to the 70s, when the brilliant actress Nuria Espert was touring the theatres of Spain with her unforgettable performance. Everything else since then inevitably becomes tangled up in comparisons.
Pilar Távora had no intention of imitating anything previously done by anybody; she is an expert, I think we can say that, on Andalucían culture in general, and the flamenco world in particular. Whether Aitana Sánchez-Gijón was the ideal choice remains very debatable; there was something that did not quite ring true in her portrayal of Yerma, an extremely intense rôle torn by her frustrated acceptance of what life has organized for her and her impossible love for another man. The violent passions which could only come out of an Andalucían soul seem to have been, perhaps, just beyond her reach. Juan Diego ("el señorito" in "Los Santos Inocentes", 1984) played well his part of Yerma's husband, stoically bearing up as well as he could, especially under the difficult threat of having to use an accent from the deep south, the province of Huelva. María Galiana only had to be her unrepeatable self: her theatre experience may well have helped out in the making of the film.
Acacio de Almeida's photography was pretty good, ably helped by Vicente Sanchez's music setting, which sounded just a little plagiaristic at times.
I give Pilar Távora's courageous attempt six out of ten, and that might just be a little generous.
WARNING: the Spanish language used is highly regionalistic and may prove rather difficult for students of the language, not helped by some microphone failures in softly spoken lines.
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