Saturday, November 09, 2013

Los Olvidados

Directed by Luis Bunuel and written by Bunuel and Luis Alcoriza, Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) is the story about a group of children living in the slums of Mexico City as a young boy tries to come to terms with his action. The film is an exploration into the poverty that was occurring in Mexico as Bunuel mixes elements of realism and surrealism to tell this story. Starring Alfonso Mejia, Stella Inda, Miguel Inclan, and Roberto Cobo. Los Olvidados is a mesmerizing yet harrowing film from Luis Bunuel.

The film explores the lives of young children living in the streets and slums of Mexico City where they have to steal and do things in order to survive. Even as they take advantage of those who are also poor and such as they’re a gang that is willing to do whatever. Yet, one boy in Pedro (Alfonso Meija) finds himself conflicted with his actions as he wants to go straight after his friend and gang-leader Jaibo (Roberto Cobo) killed a friend of theirs and later put Pedro in trouble. During these antics where Pedro and Jaibo would do schemes to get money and such, Pedro befriends a lost boy he called Ojitos (Mario Ramirez) by helping him find shelter and such. It’s a film that is largely rooted in realism where a boy tries to find redemption and win the approval of his mother whom he’s been mistreated by. Yet, he deals with circumstances that is beyond his control which really serves more as commentary on poverty and the people who suffer because of this.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t play to a traditional structure as it has a lot of narrative strands that explores the slums of Mexico City where one major character that is a victim of these antics by the boys is a blind musician named Don Carmelo (Miguel Inclan) whom Ojitos would stay with. Despite some of the troubling circumstances that many of these characters face, there is some good that is presented in the form of a family where some of the boys stay at where Jaibo tries to make out with the kind farm girl Meche (Alma Delia Fuentes) as he also would seduce Pedro’s mother (Stella Inda). While Jaibo isn’t a total villain as he is just trying to survive and not be sent back to reform school. His actions definitely would have dire consequences that would play into Pedro’s conflict as a boy who wants to be good again. Even where he is sent to a farm school in the third act where he finds that chance to redeem himself only to have his past crawl back in the worst ways.

Luis Bunuel’s direction is definitely unique for not just the way he presents a world that is very dreary but also do it in a very realistic way. Even as he always has the camera gazing into the locations and the dreariness that is prevalent in the story. Much of the direction is quite simple and to the point in the way Bunuel wanted to showcase that sense of realism. He also creates shots that are also filled with images to showcase that realist approach to storytelling while infusing it with some melodrama as it relates to Pedro’s story. There are elements of surrealism that occur in the film but it’s mostly in a dream-like fashion that plays to not just Pedro’s guilt but also his desire to gain redemption for his actions no matter how hard he tribulations he faces. Overall, Bunuel crafts a very powerful yet touching film about a boy trying to do right in his troubled environment.

Cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to play into the realist look of the locations as well as using some stylish lights for some of the nighttime scenes. Editor Carlos Savage does amazing work with the editing where it‘s largely straightforward with the exception of the very stylized dream scenes that are presented in slow motion. Production designer Edward Fitzgerald and art director William W. Claridge do terrific work with the look of the homes and places the characters interact to maintain that air of realism while Claridge also does the film’s sound to maintain that sense of realism in the locations. The film’s music by Rodolfo Halffter and Gustavo Pittaluga is superb for its somber yet melancholic orchestral score to play into Pedro’s plight as the music also features some Mexican folk music.

The film’s brilliant cast includes some notable small roles from Francisco Jambrina as the very kind and fair farm school principal that gives Pedro a chance, Javier Amezcua as an old friend of Jaibo whom he confronts early in the film, Alma Delia Fuentes as the young farm girl Meche who dislikes Jaibo as she finds some kindness in Ojitos, and Mario Ramirez as the young lost boy Ojitos who arrives to the city from the country dealing with his surroundings. Miguel Inclan is excellent as the blind musician Don Carmelo who often comments on the chaos of the world and how awful things have become.

Stella Inda is wonderful as Pedro’s mother who is unsympathetic over his actions until she realizes what is happening to him as she faces up to her own mistakes as a parent. Roberto Cobo is great as the devious Jaibo as a young man who has no qualms about his actions as he survives in the streets any way he can while stepping on people to get what he wants. Finally, there’s Alfonso Mejia in an amazing performance as Pedro as a young boy striving to redeem himself following an incident while realizing that it’s much harder as it is as he tries to confront those that had tried to bring him down.

Los Olvidados is a remarkable film from Luis Bunuel. Armed with a great cast and a very touching portrait on the world of poverty and what kids had to face. It’s film that doesn’t try to embellish things while showcasing a young boy’s view into that world where he tries to find some semblance of hope. In the end, Los Olvidados is a marvelous film from Luis Bunuel.

Luis Bunuel Films: Un Chien Andalou - L’Age d’Or - Land Without Bread - (Gran Casino) - (The Great Madcap) - (Susana) - (La hija de engano) - (Mexican Bus Ride) - (A Woman Without Love) - (El Bruto) - (El) - (Illusion Travels by Streetcar) - (Wuthering Heights (1954 film)) - Robinson Crusoe (1954 film) - (The Criminal Lives of Archibaldo de la Cruz) - (El rio y la muerte) - (Cela S’apelle l’Aurore) - (Death in the Garden) - (Nazarin) - (La Fievre a El Pasao) - (The Young One) - Viridiana - The Exterminating Angel - Diary of a Chambermaid - Simon of the Desert - Belle de Jour - (The Milky Way) - Tristana - Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie - (The Phantom of Liberty) - (That Obscure Object of Desire)

© thevoid99 2013

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