The Holy Innocents

That staple genre of the 50s art cinema—the peasant epic—gets a careful, craftsmanly retread in this 1984 feature directed by Spain's Mario Camus. The landscape is evoked with less lyrical insistence and more respect for the integrity of space than usual (there is one breathtaking moment when a pet owl flies several hundred feet from the steeple of a chapel to the shoulder of its master in a single take) and Camus accentuates the drama with surprisingly sharp moments of emotional and physical cruelty. But if the film ultimately underwhelms, it's because it falls into the same trap as its numerous predecessors: assigning moral worthiness and psychological complexity purely on the basis of the characters' class alliances, Camus loses all sense of narrative spontaneity and discovery. With Francisco Rabal and Alfredo Landa.

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