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Mexico, 1951 (MIFF 1959, Programme 7)

Director: Luis Buñuel

Los Olvidados (meaning the forgotten ones) was made in Mexico City slums with mostly non¬professional young actors whose talents lie in their simplicity, their obedience to brilliant direction (first prize at Cannes to Bunuel for best direction of 1951), and their familiarity with violence. The film was made with assistance from the Mexican government, and from juvenile prison experts, willing to show the worst in the hope of reform. The essence of the film is not to recount the facts and emotions of the case history, but to inquire why these things occur. It is a drama of Mexico City, dead-end kids and of poverty — of a peasant boy whose father brought him to town in order to abandon him; a city boy who could be saved from crime if his work-worn mother had time to show her love for him; an appetizing little neighbourhood girl; and the Lucifer and organizing genius of them all, Jaibo. a stripling just old enough to have served his first prison term. Everybody becomes involved in everybody else's poverty. crime, hunger, and lust. Los Olvidados is a fearful Mexican version of the Italian Shoeshine. Its brutality is less horrible than Bunuel's surrealist films (Un Chien Andalou) for, as he states, "there is nothing imagined in this film. It is all merely true". The adolescent gangsters, whose struggles and destinies constitute his story, beat each other to death out of hate, fear, lawlessness and hunger. not as an act of sadism. Flashes of tenderness are speedily snuffed out, yet none of the incidents are played for pure sensation or dwelt upon longer than necessary. As a lesson intended for revelation it is a ruthless, perceptive, and perhaps pessimistic film, but entirely intriguing.

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