The Tower of the Seven Hunchbacks | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Tower of the Seven Hunchbacks


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This 1944 film alone, reportedly the most personal of its director, Edgar Neville--an aristocratic Republican filmmaker and writer who was friends with everyone from Lorca and Chaplin to Ortega y Gasset and Lacan--suggests that Neville is one of the great undiscovered auteurs of the Spanish cinema. This remarkable turn-of-the-century fantasy, which suggests an eerie encounter between the tales of Borges and the early melodramas of Feuillade and Lang, starts off as a supernatural mystery as the hero (Antonio Casal) is persuaded by a one eyed ghost to solve the case of his murder. This leads him first to the ghost's niece (Isabel de Pomes) and eventually to a hidden underground city beneath the old section of Madrid that contains an ancient synagogue and is presided over by hunchbacked counterfeiters. Based on a novel by Emilio Carrere, this hallucinatory fiction ends rather abruptly and never manages to account for all the mysteries it uncovers, but as pure, primal story telling it is as creepy a spellbinder as one could wish for. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Tuesday, April 5, 6:00, 443-3737)

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