Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Date Night With TCM: Cria Cuervos

Let me just start with the preface that this is a Spanish film that won the Special Jury Prize at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival that you'll have to watch with subtitles (unless you speak Spanish, of course).
Movie Trailer via
Some people I know will stop reading after this introductory sentence, but you're still here which means that I haven't scared you off yet.  That's great, because this is one of my favorite TCM movies thus far.  Cria Cuervos is a movie that is kind of hard to summarize.  Not that much happens.  It's not a movie about events (though a few big ones do launch the story), but instead about growing up-- which is one long event in itself.  The beauty of this film is that it really reminds you of how you felt during that age in life where reality and how much (or how little) power you had to control it really wasn't yet defined.  Ana is a young girl who due to a volatile family life is truly desperate to exert more control over her life.  The problem is, she's 8.
No spoilers here, but in one of my favorite scenes Ana tries to help her grandmother pass away with some poison she's been saving.  There's a lot of grappling with life and death and who gets to determine when it's time to die in this film.  Seeing that through a child's eyes is really intriguing. screenshot via

Ana's universe is in desperate need of control.  And you'll be right there with it as she tries to take hold of it, at first believing that she really is a lord of her surroundings, and then the desperate fall of "growing up" when you realize that you are only a small piece of the world after all, at the whim of forces big and small around you.  All of this coming of age story hangs in the shadow of a the falling government of Fascist Spain -- with Anna's personal growth kind of mirroring the Spanish populace waking up to a new reality out of the shadows of what the old one left behind.  This quote from the director, Carlos Saura, sums it up nicely: 

"Cria Cuervos is a sad film, yes. But that's part of my belief that childhood is one of the most terrible parts in the life of a human being. What I'm trying to say is that at that age you've no idea where it is you are going, only that people are taking you somewhere, leading you, pulling you and you are frightened. You don't know where you're going or who you are or what you are going to do. It's a time of terrible indecision."

When I finished watching Cria Cuervos, I have to agree I felt very sad.  I spent a lot of time remembering those years in my own childhood where I really struggled with self, and identity, and my place in the world.  Just like Ana, I always really struggled with the concept of being the master of my universe, too.  You know when your parents would say something like "the world doesn't revolve around you."  Well I was that kid who wasn't so sure that declaration made any sense.  Wasn't reality being experienced through myself at all times?  Wasn't I the only person in the world that I would ever exist through? So far all intents and purposes, wasn't I the only person that really mattered in my own existence?  Even as a young child I knew these thoughts were not something I was going to be encouraged to share, but the logical nature of this line of thought seemed to encourage me to stay in my "id" phase a little longer, because it seemed I was onto something -- I really was the master of the universe, because my universe was all I would ever know.  We all eventually realize though that even though we're the windows through which our soul looks, we aren't really able to exert as much control over life as we might hope for.  I keep thinking maybe one day when I start a family I can help my own daughter through this time a little easier, but the truth is, we all have to deal with that truth one day by ourselves,  And that day will be sad, but honest, and essential to growing up.

When's the last time you watched a movie that made you feel all of that?  Thanks TCM.

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