Saturday, May 7, 2011

El rio y la muerte (The River and Death)

(1955, Mex, 91min, b/w)
d Luis Buñuel p Armando Orive Alba sc Luis Alcoriza, Luis Buñuel ph Raúl Martinez Solares ed Jorge Bustos pd Gunther Gerszo m Raúl Lavista cast Columba Domínguez, Miguel Torruco, Joaquín Cordero, Jaime Fernández, Victor Alcocer, Silvia Derbez, José Elías Moreno

This sardonic folk tale was intended by the producers to illustrate how education can overcome violence. Buñuel was having none of it. Dr Gerardo, the nominal hero, is made to relate much of the film's flashback structure from the confines of an iron lung (suffering even a slap on the face!). The honor of a long-standing blood-feud in his home village rests now with him, but from the comfort of civilised Mexico City he disdains such macho barbarism; the village is a place where the priest carries a gun under his cassock and "there's no Sunday without a dead man". Buñuel revels in the morbidity, but also conjures a fond evocation of rural life; not only is Gerardo dishonouring his mother by refusing to fight, but when he makes it home as the cityboy milquetoast, it’s left to his rival, the rougher-edged Rudolfo, to prove himself the more noble man.

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