Carlos Saura

Carlos Saura – La madriguera AKA Honeycomb (1969)

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This is a curious and little-known film from Saura’s best period. Co-scripted by Rafael Azcona, the film is virtually a two-hander about a husband and wife (Per Oscarsson and Geraldine Chaplin) discovering role playing to supplement their apparently repressed sex life and going a little bit too far. There is a shade of Virginia Woolf here, and more than a shade of the later Buñuel (who learned most of his tricks from Azcona, anyway). However, what Buñuel does with a sledge-hammer and schoolboy glee, Saura does with subtlety and bitter irony. Read More »

Carlos Saura – El Dorado (1988)


Saura is not exactly obscure and in need of featuring, but this movie isn’t watched too often. It has bad reviews, even Vincent Canby wanted more action saying “the Amazon has never flowed so slowly” (the Orinoco is part of the Amazon system). Saura was trying to tell a story about the hispanic world, going to the 500 year anniversary of the conquista. Just like Herzog he has a tale of obsession, but much more down to earth and realistic. Boring almost, not so popular. If you’re a Herzog fan or perhaps even liked 1492, you might suffer stimulus withdrawal symptoms when watching this one. If you like historical detail and a gritty sense of realism, you may not find it a perfect movie but one that goes a long way.
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Carlos Saura – Goya en Burdeos AKA Goya in Bordeaux (1999)


Francisco Goya (1746-1828), deaf and ill, lives the last years of his life in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, a Liberal protesting the oppressive rule of Ferdinand VII. He’s living with his much younger wife Leocadia and their daughter Rosario. He continues to paint at night, and in flashbacks stirred by conversations with his daughter, by awful headaches, and by the befuddlement of age, he relives key times in his life, particularly his relationship with the Duchess of Alba, his discovery of how he wanted to paint (insight provided by Velázquez’s work), and his lifelong celebration of the imagination. Throughout, his reveries become tableaux of his paintings. Read More »

Carlos Saura – El jardín de las delicias AKA The Garden of Delights (1970)


Review Summary
Jose Luis Lopez Vasquez stars as a millionaire industrialist who is involved in an auto accident. When he comes to, Vasquez has completely forgotten who he is and how much money he has. His greedy relatives would love to put Vasquez away and claim his fortune. But there’s a fly in the ointment: the money is in a secret Swiss bank account, and the only one who knows (or who knew) the account number is the amnesiac Vasquez. Those familiar with the work of Spanish director Carlos Saura know for darn sure that he’s not about to go the expected route with this surefire material: Garden of Delights, is just that, a bountiful garden of the surreal, the symbolic, the illusory, and at times the hilarious. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Read More »

Carlos Saura – Cría cuervos AKA Raise Ravens (1976)


An inquisitive, cherubic girl named Ana (Ana Torrent) overhears a tender exchange between her father, a military officer named Anselmo (Héctor Alterio) and his mistress, Amelia (Mirta Miller), before the intimate moment gives way to tragedy and confusion, as Anselmo suffers a fatal heart attack. Amelia hurriedly dresses, leaving Anselmo’s body alone in the bedroom for the discovery of others, and exchanges a reluctant glance with Ana before running away to avoid a scandal. Young Ana impassively observes Anselmo’s rigid countenance before recovering a water glass from the bedside table, and methodically washes the item in the kitchen sink. Soon, the past, present, and distant past seemingly fuse into a surreal and reassuring incident as Ana’s dead mother (Geraldine Chaplin) passes through the kitchen and affectionately reminds Ana that it is past her bedtime. Later, a haunted and matured Ana (Geraldine Chaplin) recounts her childhood animosity towards her emotional callous and philandering father, blaming him for causing her late mother’s suffering that inevitably manifested in a slow, consuming illness. With the death of their father, Ana and her sisters, Irene (Conchita Pérez) and Maite, spend the rest of their summer vacation in the family home, entrusted to the care of Aunt Paulina (Mónica Randall), a stern, but well intentioned unmarried woman who discourages discussion about their parents in a mistaken belief that she is sparing the children from the grief of their profound loss. However, Paulina’s attention is preoccupied by her own surfacing romantic relationship, and the children are invariably left alone with their affable, obliging maid, Rosa (Florinda Chico) and their silent, detached grandmother (Josefina Díaz) whose own thoughts are consumed by cherished memories evoked from a collage of old family photographs. With little guidance and supervision, the children create an insular world that reflects the conflict, pain, and uncertainty of the enigmatic and impenetrable adult world around them. Read More »

Carlos Saura – Mamá cumple 100 años AKA Mama Turns 100 (1979)


Returning to the dysfunctional family dynamic and generational saga of Anna and the Wolves in its psychological exposition into the root of ingrained human cruelty and repression, Mama Turns 100 Years Old is a wry, eccentric, and provocative, if underformed satire on the latent trauma and moral repercussions of emotional subjugation, manipulation, and corruption. On the eve of the indomitable family matriarch, Mama’s (Rafaela Aparicio) centenary, former domestic servant Ana (Geraldine Chaplin), now the happily settled wife of a devoted, bohemian husband named Antonio (Norman Briski), has received a personal invitation from Mama herself to stay as a guest in the secluded family estate and celebrate the festivities – an unexpected request that, as Mama subsequently reveals, stems from the inescapable conviction that her family, goaded in part by her conniving daughter-in-law, Luchi (Charo Soriano) and enabled by her dotty, gullible son, Fernando (Fernando Fernán Gómez), has been underhandedly plotting to kill her before she reaches the all-important milestone. However, as Ana and Antonio alternately settle into their awkward roles as accommodating guests of absurd, idiosyncratic rituals and bemused observers of a deeply rended (if superficially intact) familial intimacy, the couple, too, inevitably becomes caught up in the corrosive atmosphere of petty infighting, superficial civility, aimless distraction, nebulous alliances, and emotional deception (a figurative entrapment that is visually encapsulated in Anna accidentally stepping into a rabbit trap within the estate grounds). Read More »

Carlos Saura – Stress-es tres-tres AKA Stress Is Three (1968)



‘Fernando, with his wife and life-long friend, Antonio, set out on a weekend together. Fernando begins to suspect his wife and Antonio of being in love, and his jealousy grows as he observes them in a situation he, himself, created.’

Carlos Saura on Stress-es tres-tres:

‘Despite the enormous success of Peppermint Frappe I felt on edge. I had told a story in that film, in the sense that a story with a very precise narrative thread was told. The reason for my dissatisfaction stemmed from the feeling that the story had trapped me and I wanted to be free of it. So I made Stress-es tres-tres which was a sort of liberation.’ Read More »