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Cria Cuervos (The Criterion Collection)

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Carlos Saura's exquisite Cria cuervos... heralded a turning point in Spain: Shot while General Franco was on his deathbed, the film melds the personal and the political in a portrait of the legacy of fascism and its effects on a middle-class family (the title derives from the Spanish proverb: "Raise ravens and they'll peck out your eyes"). Ana Torrent (the dark-eyed beauty from The Spirit of the Beehive) portrays the disturbed eight-year-old Ana, living in Madrid with her two sisters and mourning the death of her mother, whom she conjures as a ghost (played by an ethereal Geraldine Chaplin). Seamlessly shifting between fantasy and reality, the film subtly evokes both the complex feelings of childhood and the struggles of a nation emerging from the shadows.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Geraldine Chaplin, Mónica Randall, Florinda Chico, Ana Torrent, Héctor Alterio
  • Directors: Carlos Saura
  • Writers: Carlos Saura
  • Producers: Elías Querejeta, Pedro El Samu
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 14, 2007
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000QXDFR6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,396 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cria Cuervos (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Finally, it appears, Criterion is getting around to releasing some of the many great Spanish films of the past decades. High time they noticed there have been some astounding Spanish films and directors beyond Luis Buñuel, undoubtedly the great master. But Saura, Berlanga, Bardem, Borau, Erice, Bigas Luna, and quite a few more I could name, have directed some masterpieces that also deserve the special Criterion teatment. After the recent and excellent release of El Espíritu de la Colmena (Spirit of the Beehive), now comes Cría Cuervos, a fascinating parable, somewhere between fantasy and reality, that beyond the too obvious symbolism of a country finally liberating itself from a long dictatorship, it is an intelligent exploration of the scary world of troubled childhood. And Ana Torrent (the same girl of Spirit of the Beehive) speaks volumes just with those incredible dark eyes. My copy is in its way, but I don't doubt Criterion transfer and worthy extras will deserve a 5-star rating.

UPDATING: Having just received my copy, I can say I am very pleased with the excellent transfer of the movie. It looks great. But I am even more impressed by the extras on the second disc:. Mainly, a wonderfully insightful portrait of Carlos Saura (more than one hour long), produced by TVE (state-run Spanish tv) in 2004 -unfortunately in a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer-, which I found as interesting as the film itself. Also a 20-minute incredibly candid and perceptive interview in English with Geraldine Chaplin (done for Criterion in 2007 susprisingly not in widescreen). I had the pleasure of interviewing the actress some years back for a Spanish publication and I knew how good and revealing she was in conversation with the press, unlike most film actors.
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Ana Torrent(the dark-eyed beauty from The Spirit if the Beehive) portrays the disturbed 8 year old Ana,living in Madrid with her two sisters,mourning the death of her mother whom she conjures as a ghost.The children are in their summer vacations. Cria Cuervos is about the wounded feminine psyche that is Spain.The male patriarchy of Franco's Spain is represented by Ana's father,who was a General in Franco's army, and like Franco is about to die.Women in Catholic Spain have been repressed,subdued,stereo-typed.Ana's mother(Chaplin) has had to give up a career as a pianist to become a housewife in a loveless marriage,whose husband,a philanderer, refuses to understand her depression or talk to her.The film is about the ghosts of memory,the psychological interpenetration of the past,present and future,reality and fantasy,in Ana's head.Her aunty is responsible for the sisters' care.

Porque te vas,the juvenile pop song sung by Jeannette, which expresses Ana's rebellion,is in fact an ode to lost loves, abandoned hopes. For the singer,even the sun shining on a city window is a sign that her lover must soon leave. The present may thus prove as depressing as the past.For Ana,the past is not past,we see her interacting with her dead mother as if she is still alive.When the sisters play dress-up,it is to expertly recreate the bitter arguments of their dead parents.Her interactions with her mother(Geraldine Chaplin),is fantasised by the grieving child.What will become of Spain with Franco's death(indirectly alluded to in Porque te vas)?Spain has been ruled by a fascist military junta since 1939, for 36 years Spain has been under tight social control.Saura shows the intimacy that the living and dead cohabit especially when fragile psyches are frozen in time by trauma.
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Format: DVD
As a very thinly veiled allegory about the Franco regime, this film works quite well. Showing the military uniforms at the funeral and then the song "Porque te vas," which was popular with the anti-Franco youth, are absolute dead giveaways. Saura obviously wanted to show the kind of negative effects fascism has on the long-term health of a society. The severely pathological behavior of Ana is clearly symbolic. The war game where she kills her siblings and then brings them back to life through prayer shows the relationship of the fascists to the Church. All the females in the film are severely impaired in different ways, showing the deleterious effects of the Franco regime and conservative Catholicism on women, whose roles were extremely restricted. All the tight-shot cinematography focuses the viewer on the children, while the city and all its noise are viewed in wide shots to make it seem threatening and brutal, like Spanish society at the time. The use of city noise was very good....a little bit reminiscent of Fellini's even more stunning use of sound in "Roma."

I still have the same trouble with this film that I had the first time I saw it many many years ago. When Ana doesn't react at all to seeing her father dead, we suspect there is symbolism going on here, because even a child who resented her father would show some sort of emotion. Then, when she doesn't react at all to her mother's agony, we clearly see that Saura is using symbolism to show how Spanish society was being traumatized, since we know that Ana loved her mother.
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