Saturday, 6 July 2013

Death of a Cyclist [1955]


At a convention, on Spanish cinema under the draconian Franco regime, held at Salamanca in 1955, Bardem launched a now-famous scathing attack on its then current status. Released in the same year, Death of a Cyclist, despite the era of heavy censorship, managed to be a distillation of everything he wanted films to be. This simultaneously psychologically incisive, emotionally affecting, politically conscious and stylistically dazzling film provided a terrific portrayal of guilt, fear, deceit and the feeble attempts at reconciling with oneself, and a searing indictment of the regime’s bourgeois class. It begins with a stray cyclist being accidentally hit by a speeding car and the man left to die on the road. The occupants of the car are the adulterous couple Juan (Alberto Closas), a professionally failed mathematics teacher, and the incredibly alluring Maria (Lucia Bosé) who’s married to a wealthy businessman (Otello Toso). The prime driving force for him turns out to be the deep sense of guilt – not just for their dastardly act, but also because of the choices he has made in his life, particularly those relating to his socio-political inaction, lack of will in challenging the status quo and for having comprised on his ideals; his guilt, therefore, is the guilt of an entire class, and not just that of an individual. For her, however, it is fear – the fear of losing her comfortable and cocooned status quo, compounded by the presence of a grotesque looking journalist (Carlos Casaravilla) who loathes the vacuous and complacent privileged class. The film’s social realism was brilliantly counterpointed by its noirish style and fatalistic mood, emphasized by the fabulous cinematography replete with expressionistic visuals and low-angle shots.








Director: Juan Antonio Bardem
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: Spanish
Country: Spain

2 comments:

Sam Juliano said...

"This simultaneously psychologically incisive, emotionally affecting, politically conscious and stylistically dazzling film provided a terrific portrayal of guilt, fear, deceit and the feeble attempts at reconciling with oneself, and a searing indictment of the regime’s bourgeois class."

hahaha Shubhajit, you have left no crumbs for the peasants here! Another example of your incomparable employment of word economy for this great work of world cinema. I've always been a big fan.

Shubhajit said...

Haha, thanks a lot Sam for the kind words. The only trait of yours that can possibly compete with your showering appreciation is your modesty! I can very well imagine how popular & loved you must be in the school where you teach :) And yes, this is indeed a classic of world cinema.