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  • The Red Squirrel [1993] [DVD]
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The Red Squirrel [1993] [DVD]

9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Emma Suárez, Nancho Novo, María Barranco, Karra Elejalde, Carmelo Gómez
  • Directors: Julio Medem
  • Writers: Julio Medem
  • Producers: Enrique López Lavigne, Fernando de Garcillán
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 27 May 2002
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000066CWV
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,513 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

An ex-pop star is contemplating suicide when he is interrupted by a motorbike accident. On arriving at the scene, he sees that the bike rider is a beautiful young woman, who appears to have amnesia. He responds by pretending to be her boyfriend, naming her Lisa, and inventing a story for them both. They then go off on holiday to the Red Squirrel campsite. But there is more to Lisa than meets the eye, as he is about to find out.


The Red Squirrel sees Jota, an ex-pop star with a penchant for doing nothing very much, standing on a bridge contemplating suicide. He’s pulled back to reality by a dramatic motorcycle accident and goes to help the victim, an attractive young woman apparently physically unscathed but with severe amnesia. At the hospital he is assumed to be her boyfriend, and so the deception begins, as he invents everything from her name (Lisa) through to the details of their imaginary four-year relationship. Though based on a lie, it gradually becomes real but is Lisa really an amnesiac or is she deceiving the deceiver? Who is the mysterious Felix, leaving pleas on a late-night radio programme to his missing, mentally disturbed 25-year-old wife, Sofia? As an array of incidental characters get drawn in, each seems to be practising their own deceit.

This is a beautifully wrought, endlessly thought-provoking film, complemented by Alberto Iglesias's fabulous score. The two leads are superb: as Jota, Nancho Nova is both fey and hypnotic while Elisa (Emma Suárez) is wonderfully whimsical. Not surprisingly, it garnered a whole heap of awards, from Best Foreign Film at Cannes to Best Score at the Goya Awards. And the significance of the title? Red squirrels are, apparently, quick and cunning creatures; just like human beings.

On the DVD: The Red Squirrel is presented in Dolby Digital original Spanish soundtrack with option of English subtitles and anamorphic widescreen print. The usual stuff is on offer as special features, including trailers for other world cinema films, filmographies of the director and two leading characters, and a concise but considered analysis of the plot.--Harriet Smith

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By DocMartin on 3 Nov. 2005
Format: DVD
This dark thriller is very much in the European school ¬ - if you like your suspense Hollywood style, slick and with lots of car chases, this is not the film for you. It is also quite definitely a grown-up movie, not in terms of its content which is surprisingly mild given its 18-rating, but in that it requires concentration: even by the third viewing you are picking up nuances, twists and meanings that passed you by earlier. Indeed, what looks at first sight like a naïve piece of sub-titled film-noir, develops rapidly into a film of intelligently presented mystery with surreal elements.
Nancho Nova is delightfully brooding as the nonchalant yet suicidal Jota (Jay) who fools the enigmatic, alluring Emma Suarez into believing she is his estranged, co-habiting girlfriend, Elisa … or does he? As the film and its characters develop, there are twists and turns aplenty; a rich wealth and diversity of supporting characters, many of whom are redundant to the plot development but add beautifully to the overall effect and a new sinister significance to squirrels.
Set to become a foreign cult classic, this film deserves every award it picked up and has grown rather than diminished with time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan James Romley on 18 Mar. 2008
Format: DVD
Julio Medem is something of an underrated figure within the spectrum of world cinema. He regularly produces bold, imaginative and exciting films that shatter the usual preconceptions we might have of the limitations of cinematic language and storytelling in the visual sense, as well as presenting an incredibly intelligent and original approach to the ideas of production design, editing and cinematography. Despite this, however, he has yet to be fully acclaimed universally as a great filmmaker in the tradition of Tarkovsky, Bergman, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Godard, Welles etc - or even ranked alongside contemporary cinematic figures such as Pedro Almodóvar, Lars von Trier, Aki Kaurismäki, Michael Haneke and Guillermo Del Toro. The Red Squirrel (1993) was only Medem's second feature following the elliptical historical satire Vacas (1991) and yet, even now we can already see the themes from that particular film being further developed in preparation for the later, perhaps even great films, such as Tierra (1996), The Lovers of the Arctic Circle (1998) and Sex and Lucia (2001).

Like those films, The Red Squirrel is a multi-layered work rife with possible interpretations and elements of broad, Buñuelian surrealism that are at odds with the more recognisable presentation of reality established in the film's intriguing first half. On our initial viewing the plot can seem incredibly straightforward, revolving around the strange relationship between a suicidal former pop star and the mysterious, amnesiac woman who literally falls into his life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By carlosnightman VINE VOICE on 23 Sept. 2006
Format: DVD
One year after Medem came to the spotlight with Vacas, he made The Red Squirrel, a deceptive film about love, sex, paranoia, mystery, violence, and existence. Complex, fascinating, and worthy of many viewings it is a film which marks Medem as a special talent, but which will probably confuse and annoy the average movie-goer with its interesting take on story-telling, heavy imagery and colourful symbolism.

Jota is a young Spanish man, on the literal brink of suicide. A failed musician and lover who sees no future, he stands on the top of a bridge and prepares to jump. From nowhere, a motorcyclist appears, and races off the bridge, crashing heavily below. He goes to the wreckage while an ambulance is called and sees that the rider is a beautiful young women. When he goes with her to the hospital he says he is her boyfriend so that he can stay with her. The doctors say she will recover, but that she has suffered total amnesia. The doctors hope that Jota will be able to awaken her memories, believing he is her boyfriend, so he goes to her and acts the part. She does not remember, but they leave together. Jota decides to invent her life and their past, calling her Lisa, making her into his old girlfriend, Vertigo style and she goes along with it. Soon they are in love, and they decide to go on holiday to the Red Squirrel camp site. However, there both Lisa and Jota's motive's and pasts become less clear as fragments of memories blur with the present, and startling imagery surrounds them. They meet a family at the camp and spend time with them. They have their own problems which gradually rise into view, and Lisa acts strangely around them, in a powerfully erotic manner towards their son, and as a strong-willed women to their daughter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Mar. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was seduced by this psycho-sexual thriller/drama a few years back when it was on Film 4. Now purchased as part of Medem's 6 disc Compilation, a Spanish release, I still love it. I've never seen a director like him before - I find his immense imagination and superb imagery absolutely enthralling.

The two leads are beautiful, sexy and interesting. The interlocking timepieces of narrative lead you into a journey of mystery and imagination. You just never know where the camera will swoop and take you next - from reality to unreality and back again. The score is haunting and beguiling.

Medem's films have a tenacious intensity that makes you watch the screen intently. Repeated viewings allow a better understanding of the various strands but please do not think you have to 'get it'. It is the unanswered that makes one enthralled and excited and the answered, satisfied.

In my opinion, this remains Medem's best work, with Sex & Lucia and Lovers Of the Arctic Circle approaching.
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