Saturday, January 25, 2014

Land Without Bread

Directed and edited by Luis Bunuel and written by Bunuel, Rafael Sanchez Ventura, and Pierre Unik, Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan (Land Without Bread) is a 27-minute documentary short film about an obscure land in Spain that is wracked by poverty. The film isn’t just a look into this land but also a surreal portrait into a world that is removed from the outside world. Through the narration of Abel Jacquin, the result is a harrowing yet engrossing documentary from Luis Bunuel.

The film is an exploration into a land north of Spain that is surrounded by mountains where it lies some poor villages where its inhabitants live in a horrific world of poverty. Some of which involve orphans who have no family and those who have to work in the most dire conditions. Though Luis Bunuel would exaggerate some of the events that occurs in the film, there are moments that do have this sense of realism that is just terrifying to watch. Especially when it concerns children who die from illness that includes a dead infant. There’s also images of goats walking on the narrow mountains where a goat would fall to its death.

Under the black-and-white photography of Eli Lotar, Bunuel creates images that are just filled with dire realism in the way he shoots the children as he opens the film with a village that is very lively and not so far removed from the outside world. Yet, those images early in the film that includes a rooster being hung upside down so that someone on a horse can try to grab its head as part of a wedding ceremony seems so strange in comparison to the events that happens in these remote villages. Through Bunuel’s own stylized editing with its use of dissolves and Jacquin’s narration that plays into that sense of despair. The film also includes pieces by Johannes Brahms and Darius Milhaud to emphasize the film’s tone while not being too overbearing.

Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan is a fantastic film from Luis Bunuel. While it’s a film that isn’t easy to watch, it is still fascinating to showcase a world that was in absolute terror over its poverty in 1930s Spain. Especially in the way these people had to live in these poor conditions with so little resource at a time when Fascism was emerging in the country. In the end, Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan is an extraordinary film from Luis Bunuel.

Luis Bunuel Films: Un Chien Andalou - L’Age d’Or - (Gran Casino) - (The Great Madcap) - Los Olvidados - (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 - (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) - Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie - (The Phantom of Liberty) - (That Obscure Object of Desire)

© thevoid99 2014


Chip Lary said...

I actually consider this the first mockumentary ever made. In addition to shooting the animal to get it to fall, Bunuel is having a big joke on the audience, in my opinion. Take the entire premise - no bread. It's been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years and is made all around the globe, but somehow this village, whose men supposedly climb the mountains to go to other towns ever day, has never heard of it or learned how to make it?

thevoid99 said...

Wow, I never thought of that. If it is a mockumentary, it's a damn good one.