Sunday, September 26, 2010

LOS OLVIDADOS (Mexican) (1950)

If I have to choose only a single most stimulating director of all-time, without thinking much I would choose Luis Bunuel; the second next would be Werner Herzog. Well, it’s quite early statement made by somebody who has seen just four Bunuel films so far but believe me it’s not lofty one by any means. Watching his films is challenging experience and demands active contemplation even after you finished watching them. ‘Los Olvidados’ is quite early Bunuel film, made much before he made those path braking films in later part of his career. Though it has less surreal and more straight Bunuel, it’s absolutely worthwhile to watch for all serious cinema lovers.

Based on true facts and factual characters as said in the opening, the film is set in slum ghetto of Mexico, we witness the group of poor lost children centering around three doomed boys. The adolescent Pedro is a lost child, reminding you Truffaut’s protagonist in ‘The 400 Blows’. “I want to behave good but I don’t know how,” said the confused lad to his mother in one of the scene. He struggles to be good boy in eyes of his mother and constantly failed to be one in company of his incorrigible friend Jaibo, the boy who escaped from reformatory prison and killed a boy next. He keeps popping up like evil leading Pedro to the world of nightmare. The third is the boy who lost his father living with blind beggar.

The film has length of just one hour fifteen minutes and still Bunuel done a terrific artistic job showing us so much to ponder and contemplate; he interwove many themes and characters with shocking behavior. Instead of being sympathetic you hate these street urchins pelting stones towards blind beggar. These are boys hard to transform in bad company. I would like to recollect his equally brilliant film ‘Viridiana’, where an angelic figure tried to transform the life of beggars and what happened next is the thing to watch rather than read.

The admiration of Bunuel lies in his sarcastic tone towards society and contradictory behavior of human irrationality. He extended his vision showing us often eluded themes of human guilt, desire, dream and irrationality of uncontrolled behavior with few striking and surreal images. The tone is more contradictory and aggressive and it’s these things which emphasize the level of discomfort and disturbance to viewers. Provocative scenes are signature Bunuel and though there are few of them here too- milk dropped on bare thighs of young girl, Jaibo gazing his friend’s mother and off course Bunuel’s regular fetish skin show of legs.
Unlike Neo Realist cinema Bunuel didn’t show dark reality with emotional undertones; his reality belongs to untouched higher ground of mind and psychology; too disturbing, indifferent and eschewed from emotions or sentimentality. As a matter of fact, you constantly shift your feelings of love and hate for the protagonist Pedro or his widow mother or even the blind beggar who uttered in the end, “They should be killed before their birth.” In most of his films, the characteristic focus lies in showing the hidden reality of so called social animal and it disturbs us, shocks us to realize the punch line that ‘we all are social hypocrites.’


No comments: