Monday, 23 April 2012
Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) 
Los Olvidados is considered as one of the greatest Mexican films ever made (personally, I loved The Exterminating Angel more) – a curious anecdote given that it was made by a Spanish man in a self-imposed exile in Mexico. But what made this quite unique was that, unlike most of the masterpieces the great Spanish surrealist Luis Bunuel is known for, this fell in the domain of social realism, to some extent in the footsteps of Italian neo-realism, and thus bereft of his trademark idiosyncracies, iconoclasms and trenchant satires. This gritty B/W drama had as its focus a group of juvenile delinquents living squalid existences somewhere in the poverty-stricken edges of Mexico City. The narrative gradually centres on Pedro (Alfonso Mejia), a young kid yearning for love and acceptance from his mother. Though he seems just another spoilt brat, eventually he turns out to be one of the few people in the film one starts caring for; nearly everyone else – the psychopathic gang leader Jaibo who commits savagery without so much as a blink, the blind musician (Miguel Inclan) who earns our sympathy initially for being tormented by the sadistic gang but eventually reveals his ugly and grotesque nature, Pedro’s voluptuous mother who allows herself to be seduced by the vile Jaibo and is forever distrustful of Pedro, etc., do not possess any redeemable qualities. Bunuel presented an unflinching peek into a cruel world where people, who are essentially good-natured, either die young or become homeless or lead naïve existences – they hardly ever get the rewards out of life that they deserve. The movie is violent, disturbing and deeply tragic, and comprises of excellent turns by Mejia and Inclan among others.
Director: Luis Bunuel
Genre: Drama/Social Drama/Coming-of-Age