Where Life is Cheap!



Having no possibility to see Un dia de vida – one of former Yugoslavia’s national sanctuaries – I went for the next best thing. Luis Bunuel’s El Rio y la Muerte is, according to Francisco Aranda, made in a style reminiscent to that of Emilio Fernandez. His wife at that time, Columba Dominguez played the main part in both films.
The film is about a young progressive doctor whose aim it is to bring to an end by peaceful means an ancient vendetta that besets his village. But the machismo of the villagers and his mother – who expects him to avenge his father’s death – work against him.
Although its premise of the Mexican “gratuitiousness of death” has much going for it – “In this film there are seven deaths, four burials and I don’t know how many funeral wakes” – it is rendered in a very straightforward way with very few instances of irony. Bunuel judged it rather harsh: “I hate its educative pretensions. It is a failure.”
Raymond Durgnat liked it though, calling it an anti-Western.


2 Responses to “Where Life is Cheap!”

  1. 1 jahsonic

    I absolutely adore the poster to this film. My fave Bunuel is the Exterminating Angel which I watched “by accident” on Belgian television in my early teens and it made quite an impression. Bunuel most mythical scene is the one with the food taboo in Le Fantôme de la liberté.

  2. I didn’t thank you yet for your lovely Dim Dam Dom post, but I read your posts very regularly and there’s always very much news in it for me.
    I also rank The Exterminating Angel very highly in Bunuel’s oeuvre. In a cinema in Berlin they once had a screening of it where they didn’t open the exit doors afterwards. I’m sure this heightened the experience quite a bit. While searching for an image of El Rio y la Muerte I found an interesting site with Mexican lobby cards.

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