Wednesday 4 February 2015

Cousin Angelica (La Prima Angélica) [1974]

In Cousin Angelica, his rich, complex and mesmerizing interpretation of history, Saura masterfully portrayed the scars of a generation through the prism of memory. The first of 3 films that used memory as a narrative device – it was followed by Cria Cuervos and Elisa, Vida Mia, it polarized the locals upon its release, can be considered as a key precursor to Theo’s films (The Traveling Players and The Hunters in particular) both structurally and thematically, and comprised of flashbacks stylistic inspirations for which can perhaps be traced to Wild Strawberries. Luis (José Luis López Vázquez), a soft-spoken, unmarried, middle-aged man, during his trip to Segovia to honor his mother’s dying wishes, is flooded by long-suppressed memories of his stay there as a 10-year old during the eve of Spanish Civil War in the fateful summer of 1936. Three strands played key roles here – the political differences between his pro-Republican parents, who were fighting for the Republican cause, and his maternal uncle who was pro-Franco; impositions of the Catholic Church; and his unreconciled relationship with his titular cousin. In a fascinating creative decision, the past here wasn’t just shown but re-enacted, with Luis placed directly in it; further, akin to Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire, María Clara, as 10-year old Angélica in past and Angélica’s (Lina Canalejas) daughter in present, and Fernando Delgado, as Angélica’s fascist father in past and her businessman husband in present, played dual roles. Like Theo would also memorably do, the film often traversed temporally within a single shot, unforgettably merged the political with the personal, and made glorious use of washed-out color photography and haunting score to astoundingly evoke the open wounds of a fractured nation and a profound sense of melancholia and loss.

Director: Carlos Saura
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Psychological Drama/Romantic Drama
Language: Spanish
Country: Spain

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