sat 02/07/2022

DVD/Blu-ray: El Sur | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: El Sur

DVD/Blu-ray: El Sur

Victor Erice's Spanish family drama haunted by the Civil War

Sonsoles Arenguren as the daughter Estrella

Victor Erice is one of the great Spanish directors of the last century, though much less prolific than his compatriots Buñuel and Almodóvar. There are three key films, The Spirit of the Beehive, The Quince Tree Sun and El Sur (The South). All three are characterised by an intense attention to the act of seeing, the mystery of presence and the power of the imagination.

They are slow, beautiful films – every frame a delight – that benefit a great deal from being seen on a large screen or in the cinema. The lighting of interiors is often dramatic, conjuring an introverted and melancholy private sphere, but without bringing attention to itself.

Released in 1983, El Sur plays with a dream-like chronology, and is narrated by a woman who reminisces about her relationship with her father. They have an intimate relationship that excludes the mother. He is nostalgic for a romance that took place years earlier in his native southern Spain, a region of memory that touches his daughter’s imagination, and offers intimacy with her father.

As with so many Spanish films, the stifling shadow of the Civil War is cast over everything – darkening the present as if the ghosts of the past refused to be banished. These films touched on a taboo subject when Franco was still alive, and their poetic and human-centred treatment of deeply political material is exemplary. Not a whiff of propaganda here, but the wounds of a country divided and bathed in atrocious communal violence are brought to awareness with incredible elegance and emotional assurance.

The extras for the DVD release are not exactly copious but still interesting: a sound interview with Erice with Geoff Andrew, and a beguiling visual essay on the leitmotivs of the director’s films.

As with so many Spanish films, the stifling shadow of the Civil War is cast over everything


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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