Saturday 7 February 2015

La Caza (The Hunt) [1966]

In the brutal, abrasive, visceral and allegorical La Caza, Saura provided a damning indictment on Franco’s repressive right-wing regime, and the callousness, self-centeredness and arrogance of the Spanish military and bourgeoisie. That something as inane as rabbit hunt on a lazy summer day – an activity that aptly underscored the vacuous mindset of the upper class – could end in carnage, showed in no uncertain terms man’s propensity for false braggadocio and mindless violence and provided a virtual recreation of the Civil War. Don José (Ismael Merlo), an Aristocrat who’s in severe monetary crisis due to a costly divorce, Paco (Alfredo Mayo), a shrewd business who’d once fought as part of Franco’s force, and Luis (José María Prada), a factory worker with a love for outrageous science-fiction novels, are three middle-aged Falangists who’ve come together for a day of some silly shooting at a countryside location owned by José, purportedly to renew their comradeship, re-live old memories and, at a subterranean level, get a chance to flex their machismo. However, as gradually becomes evident, there exists strong grievances within the trio – José intends to borrow money from Paco as a return for favours done long back, Paco, already suspecting the move, is least bothered with José’s problems, and Luis detests José for his patronizing behaviour and Paco for his sly nature. Shot in austere B/W and with a minimalist score, the barren landscape formed the perfect locale for the slowly escalating violence, as the support characters (Paco’s naïve nephew and José’s impoverished servant), animals and ultimately themselves bore the brunt of the vicious extravaganza, in this harrowing and discomfiting psychological thriller. The central cast, representing the Spanish military, was pitch-perfect.

Director: Carlos Saura
Genre: Thriller/Psychological Thriller
Language: Spanish
Country: Spain

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