Sunday, February 18, 2007

Los Olvidados

Now here is an interesting film.

It's not often I get so hooked on a film after one viewing, but this was certainly the case with Luis Bunuel's excellent study of poverty and crime among the youth in post-war Mexico City.

I can't think of another film that is so overwhelmed by genuine poverty and terrible conditions, with the possible exception of some of the Italian neorealist films on which this film was patterned. But whereas, say, DeSica's BICYCLE THIEVES contains a ray of optimism and even redemption (backed by a beautiful score), Bunuel's films is relentlessly bleak, terrifying and depressing.

There are scenes of shocking violence which back the themes of the story well. It is essentially about a poor Mexican boy, Pedro, who becomes an accomplice to a murder when a teenage gangmember he used to know, called Jaibo, breaks out of juvenile hall and returns to his town to wreak havoc. The boy is blackmailed by Jaibo, who abuses him and weilds frightening power over the poor boy until he finally cracks.

The cinematography is strangely beautiful, yet never loses sight of its gritty purpose. The cast is uniformly excellent.

This film stands out in Bunuel's body of work as an example of heightened realism, although surrealistic stylings turn up in the dream sequences.

Having seen the majority of Bunuel's work, certainly all of his critically acclaimed works, I feel that LOS OLVIDADOS stands out as his finest achievements.

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