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The heartbreak of an egomaniac


The novel:

The South is a beautiful novel of filial love, the love of a girl for self-worshiping father. It is written in second person because the author, Adelaida Garcí­a Morales, seems to concentrate all the excitement of the story in a long letter from infancy to be his distant father.

Adriana, the protagonist, is a sensitive girl, recalls the relationship that joined his father while he was alive. The story is intense feelings and emotions. Like any child her father was a powerful idol as a god, though he could not explain the mystery of his strange attitude towards his family.

The girl, at the age of First Communion, could not understand why his father spent his days locked in his study almost without contact with his family. He does not understand what is the reason to make a completely secluded life, not just out of date.

Adriana could not bring himself to indifference of his father. Instinctively advantage the few contacts I had with him, whether glances at lunchtime, or a word without much intention to charge deep feelings exist in reality. He loved his father but his father ignored Adriana and her entire family. She grows profoundly alone in the family home, a secluded house in the village. In its early years not even let you go to school, she is building its internal world stealing glimpses of tenderness to his strange father, under the stern gaze of his mother.

You would think that the author hints that the father was an obnoxious, selfish, returning late and drunk to be home, arguing violently with his wife and who ever gets hit a couple times to Adriana. We might think that is a pathological misanthrope who keeps his kidnapped family, but we would be wrong, actually what happens is that they are upset of love, is an unbridled passion that dominates and that you can only channel in the memory: a love of Youth in Sevilla with sporadic still maintaining some correspondence, but she rejects him as expressed in one of his letters.

The defects that might seem a dark and enigmatic personality makes her daughter under mysterious qualities of a luminous being, mystifies, gives a deep content to their silence, believing relents suffering unbearable suffering, and considers all that magical surrounds, such as handling the pendulum dowsing often used to find water or to predict the sex of unborn children. Adriana lives his wonder at the presence of his secretive and elusive father children.

The novel has a sequel, Adriana takes the journey south to the land of his father. The author demonstrates an exquisite sensitivity to introduce us to the magic of Sevilla where he spent his adolescence. "City, made of living stones, palpitations secret ... And that housed the inhabitants seemed emanating from it, shaped by ancient hands." I guess that's what inspired the title: The south. where not only the light is magical, but the feeling of closeness between the people silent, their life philosophy, their feelings to the surface ... The trip after the death of his father made with the intention of discovering the hidden part of his life. In Sevilla she knows Gloria Valle who lives in the same neighborhood of the house of his father, is having "a beauty that seemed to come not only from his weathered face, but deep inside, somewhere inside of you, no doubt some, it had saved time ", was the beloved and desired by his father almost went mad. And simultaneously, in these shady streets "where the blinding rays of sun came sifted through the shadows" by the son of the woman who loved her father stubbornly, an impossible love which is probably his half brother love arises.

The film:

No wonder Erice after his acclaimed film The Spirit of the Beehive, where turned all the desolation of the Spanish war, this poignant short novel by Adelaida Garcí­a Morales, who was then his partner was interested to make a film. Given that film and literature are different languages and if a picture is worth a thousand words, also a word worth a thousand pictures, you can not expect the film to be a simple translation of the novel, but it is imperative that respects their essence, to forward us the artistic aura of history.

Inexplicably, Erice keeps the surface of the paternal character: be selfish and vulgar. The mysterious, but bright, Adriana father of the novel, becomes grim and neglected father Star in the movie. It sheds its tragic and enigmatic character to become a parent absurd, town doctor, who maintains a familiar weary existence in an isolated house in the north of Spain. Everything changes the day that is projected in the village a movie starring a popular actress who once had a crush on his native Seville. Erice change the deep love for her discreet sevillian woman in a frivolous passion for a film actress.

From the time he wakes up in a sickly melancholy that is quite inconsistent with the life he had led so far, starts drinking and ignore the love of his daughter Estrella. The final decision to kill himself is forced because we have never visited a passionate desperation that leads you to a drastic solution. On the contrary, despite the complete indifference to his wife never even raises the desire to separate from her. And there is no reason to stop him as he could be an illness of his wife prevented him compassionate leave. If only there was a moral or economic justification for a character who gives every impression of being a single parent idiot and humanize it. It is a feeling of pure contempt for your spouse, a beautiful, sorrowful woman. There is no reason other than that indolence or cowardice that forces him to keep chewing his drunken senseless existence and surprisingly interrupted one night with one stone. Currently, the character could be recognized in a professional, a doctor and unscrupulous surface, falling into alcoholism and neglect their duties for the love of an actress, but is not able to make another decision that the suicide.

The nuances of the relationship with his daughter in the novel are almost nonexistent in the film. The subtleties of not wanting to attend the First Communion of your daughter for being an atheist, which ultimately assists, sounding a false sentimentality. Political references to his Republican past lack consistency, seems to mention to meet the itch to make a politically correct film after the death of General Franco.

The celebrated scene, but of dubious origin, Star away on his bike while leaving a puppy in front of his house that the return is an adult, with which Erice wanted to show the passage of time rather than the classic little sign of "Few years later" is exactly the same resource used Buster Keaton in " Seven chances" in 1925 placed between the couple in love a puppy that is becoming older dog as the seasons pass.

Moreover, Erice becomes intimate emotionality of the novel in a rather sordid and dull film. Everything about her is sad and boring, to a wedding in the Grand Hotel Village, which does not exist in the novel radiates a mournful air. And the amorous passion of the protagonist of the novel by Adelaida Garcí­a Morales becomes the film Erice in a dirty, whimsy and sentiment implausible.

Erice uses basic resources to create a stifling atmosphere, as slow or stop the image. Some scenes are frustratingly slow, aim to create a climate of unease in the viewer, like the rhythmic beating of the stick in the attic, which reach not transmit anything and all I get is bore for several minutes. Although the shoe frame, focus and light are technically perfect, thanks to cinematographer José Luis Alcaine. It is significant that in the novel were silences in the film become noises. These films details Erice give us the impression that this is the first work of a novice director and not considered "cult director". His work has not continuation because it had been limited to two feature films to date, which are also held by commenting and "opera prima" The Spirit of the Beehive .

The unfortunate appearance in the film "topical and typical Andalusia", embodied in the visit to the family home as a shrill Mrs. Rafaela Aparicio, who has already lost the soft andalusian accent to speak a "andalú of Madriz" and the presence of the mother, supposedly a lady of Seville, embodied in a gray character in which neither speech nor the composure of Andalusian women are granted, denotes an inability to perceive the culture of Andalusia, sensitive, quiet, artist .. . they described the author of the novel, to appear in the film as the typical maudlin charanga surface that southern people.

The film aims to convey a poetic aura of unbridled passion, which itself is located on the novel by Adelaida Garcí­a Morales, Erice but only manages to create a closer to a psychotic obsessions empty atmosphere. Poetry that emerges from their images is due solely to the excellent work of José Luis Alcaine.

For production problems the film was unfinished, missing the development of the rich second part of the novel. Star ends when you have to travel south to seek the love of her father, that she knows only actress billboards cinemas. This mutilation of the story the title is meaningless. South Adelaide Garcí­a Morales nothing left. The film is dark and gloomy. What was the dream of the bright southern girl makes it Erice parent's nightmare.

It is curious that in the only two films that the director has filmed there several scenes that are repeated almost identically. One is the importance of a film projected in the same film as a matryoshka dolls where two tiny heart is big. In the case of The Spirit of the Beehive is the movie Frankenstein girls who see a mobile cinema and conditions their magical world view. In the south is a planned village in film starring actress of the movie is that love father alcoholism triggers that lead to suicide. In both, Erice recreates photographing the faces of the spectators in the semi darkness of the rooms, which are actually borrowed scenes of Italian neorealism. Also in both films the action takes place in similar French houses, gloomy, isolated, on the outskirts of a village. Much of the action takes place outdoors. And also, in one as in the other, the only sentimental attachment are a cross between characters which separate letters one would never displayed. And finally, both the protagonist is a girl wonder at the world around him gloomy.

After this movie Erice has not refocused any film. There was a failed attempt to film the novel Shanghai magic of Juan Marse that did not materialize and the end was Fernando Trueba who took to the screens. Inexplicably, his two works have soared to the category of "cult director", possibly because they were two opportunity contributions to the immediate post-Franco time characterized by the aridity of the spanish cinema. Later it has only divided its work among enigmatic short films (Alumbramiento / Childbirth) which are closer to the techniques of ultrasound diagnosis of what we mean by cinema, and producing commercials.

If we had to choose between only two works of this director, we are left with The Spirit of the Beehive that while debtor of Italian neorealism, performs much better sober and dull atmosphere of the Castilian plateau characters. The south, however , is not even touching sentimentality far Andalusian migrated north of the peninsula in the 50 captured by Adelaida Garcí­a Morales with such magic in his novel.

Leopoldo de Trazegnies Granda

(Digital version distributed by the newspaper El Pais. Year 2007.)
Original title: El Sur
Director: Victor Erice
Written by: Victor Erice, on the novel by Adelaida Garcia Morales
Cast: Omero Antonutti (Augustine Arenas), Sonsoles Aranguren (Star, 8), Iciar Bollain (Star, 15 years), Lola Cardona (Julia, wife of Augustine), Rafaela Aparicio (Miracles)
Photo: Jose Luis Alcaine
Editing: Paul G. the Master
Duration: 95 min
Soundtrack: Maurice Ravel (String Quartet in F major), Franz Schubert (Quintet in C major), Enrique Granados (Spanish Dance), "The door of the tabernacle", "I have within me", "er in the world" "La Cumparsita"
Year: 1983



  • "Convergencias y divergencias entre la novela y la película" por Marcos Díaz Martín (Revista Fotocinema. Rev. científica de cine y fotografía). (pdf)


  • "Neorrealismo tardío" por Leopoldo de Trazegnies Granda (Rev. digital Fila 4 pasillo).
  • "El enigma del artista adolescente por F. J. Sánchez-Cuesta (Diario de Mallorca, Año 2003).


  • "La España crepuscular" por Leopoldo de Trazegnies Granda (Rev. digital Fila 4 pasillo).




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