Tuesday, 4 June 2013
DVD review: Cria Cuervos
Three years after her precocious debut in The Spirit of the Beehive, Cría Cuervos (1973) confirmed Ana Torrent a young actress of remarkable presence. Her assured performance – a combination of wide-eyed innocence and inner inscrutability – forms the delicate centre to a film of pronounced allegorical purpose, which combines nuanced character drama with echoes of Spain’s political ghosts.
As in Victor Erice’s aforementioned Frankenstein riff, Torrent plays a sensitive child with morbid preoccupations. Though outwardly peaceful, the newly orphaned Ana is buffeted by tumultuous emotions, with guilt over her perceived role in the death of her fascist father entwined with confused remembrances of her mother’s painful demise. As her fears and vexations express themselves in games and fantasies (faux-culls of siblings; visions of herself leaping from rooftops), director Carlos Saura adopts a fluid magic realism, puncturing the narrative with straight-to-camera reflections from the adult Ana (Geraldine Chaplin) and blurring the divide between reality and dreams. The effect is profoundly beguiling, and demands renewed appreciation.