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Los Olvidados 1950


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4.6 out of 5 stars (25) IMDb 8.3/10

A group of juvenile delinquents live a violent and crime-filled life in the festering slums of Mexico City, and the morals of young Pedro are gradually corrupted and destroyed by the others...

Alma Delia Fuentes, Miguel Inclán
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Product Details

  • Feature ages_12_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 17 minutes
Starring Alma Delia Fuentes, Miguel Inclán, Estela Inda, Alfonso Mejía, Francisco Jambrina, Roberto Cobo
Director Luis Bunuel, Luis Buñuel
Genres Drama
Rental release 13 September 2010
Main languages Spanish
Subtitles English, French

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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It's several decades since I last saw Buñuel's Los Olvidados , a powerful, unsentimental and unflinching look at the lives of a gang of slum children set in Mexico City. After viewing this DVD it's clear that what I had retained in my memory was a general impression of its style and the visceral emotional impact it made on me many years ago, but I had remembered very little of the actual content. Even the stunning image of the last shot that forms the desperately bleak ending I had slightly misremembered.

So, the result of all this is that to all intents and purposes it was like seeing it for the first time. And the film is a revelation. It begins as if we are about to see a documentary including a caption that states that everything we are about to see is fact, but in a Buñuelsque inversion the film thereafter is clearly a constructed narrative drama. It's equally clear he intended that we should interpret what we see as real events, not as fictional invention and that this is what happens to such people and that it isn't very pleasant. The idea of the factual nature of the narrative is underscored by the apparently Italian neorealist inspired cinematography, although this also is subverted by Buñuel's strange obsession with chickens and by the inclusion of the most astonishing and accomplished 'dream sequence' that is a masterpiece in its own right.

Although the film intertwines several story-lines the main action focuses on the brutal gang leader Jaibo and his fatal influence over the younger Pedro. Buñuel is unequivocal, the world that these slum dwellers inhabit is a cesspit and it will remain so as long as they remain poor.
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Los Olvidados ('The Young and the Damned', actually more correctly translated as 'The Forgotten Ones') is the 1950 social realist film that put Luis Bunuel back on the map as a film-maker. Having scandalized middle class sensitivities with the surrealist classics Un chien Andalou (1928) and L'Age d'or (1930) in Paris with Salvator Dali, he made a strange 'documentary' about a dismal Spanish village called Las Hurdes (1932) before vanishing for 15 years. His autobiography 'My Last Breath' (which I highly recommend) has him picking up odd jobs around Hollywood studios and even in MOMA in New York, but we can't really be sure what he did. He eventually fetched up in Mexico in 1946 where he went on to make two inconsequential dramas, Gran Casino (1948) and The Great Madcap (1949) which producer Oscar Dancigers saw. Bunuel already had another script ready, but Dancigers had no doubt seen some of the Italian Neo-realist films of the period like Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (1948), Roberto Rossellini's Rome Open City (1945) and Paisan (1946) and maybe even Luchino Visconti's Ossessione (1942) and La Terra Trema (1948). He wanted Bunuel to make a film in the same social realist tradition about the slums of Mexico City. It's very interesting then that without Dancigers Bunuel probably would not have made his crunching study of the poor which took the 1951 Cannes audiences so by surprise and which got Bunuel the Best Director award. I say 'crunching' because the film is a tale of truly horrific dimensions. As Derek Malcolm says in the accompanying introduction with this DVD, watching it is akin to being punched in the guts for 80 minutes without let up, so despicable is the human behaviour Bunuel (and screenwriter Luis Alcoriza) put in front of us.Read more ›
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This is a deeply affecting film about the poor in Mexico City, in I believe about 1950. The principal protagonist is a young boy in a large disordered family, whose promiscuous mother oversees alone; he is unloved, but struggling to do the right thing and full of rage. One of his friends is an evil young criminal, whom a gang of kids looks up to as someone who controls his own fate. He is one of those destructive personalities that, if you have the misfortune to encounter intimately, will leave his mark. There are many other characters, all finely drawn and relentless in their brutal realism, including an abandoned peasant boy and his abusive caretaker, a blind musician full of hate.

The young boy is seeking to find what to do with his life and even gets some help from an institution run by a good man, who gets him a job as an apprentice in a silver smith's shop. It is a way ahead for the boy and he takes to it with great energy and hope. Of course, things don't work out the way they should, in what can only be called a catastrophe that no one will ever know about. I don't want to reveal the plot, of course, but Bunuel serves up an awful tragedy with total honesty and an utter lack of sentimentality. I almost wept at the end.

Bunuel adds many subtle twists to the film, such as the criminal's affair with a woman, perhaps a passing on of his bad genes. There is also the blind musician, exulting in death, a laugh that entered my nightmares when I first saw the film 30 years ago. The images are unforgettable, such as the dream of the boy with his mother, when she is offering him meat only to have the criminal emerge from under the bed to take it.

REcommended with enthusiasm. This is a great, even pioneering film that does not end with a happy ending or indulge in any hollywoodian moralizing.
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