El Sueño del Pongo

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

Here Alvarez leaves his customary expansive photo-montage aside for a minute. Instead we have this really contained, even centralized strategy. It’s this pobre campesino, intently, intensively, in terms of sympathy, exclusively. Very effective. Notwithstanding the switch, the director’s use of static images is still really dynamic. It’s a tremendous option, way too little used. It’s interesting how this Communist uses Catholicism (the Saints in the fable) in a sympathetic way. In this there’s a respect for the protagonist’s beliefs, as well as an understanding of the mythical power and truth of great cultural narratives. The moral is striking. Rich guy anointed with honey, poor soul covered in mierda, the divine judgment being to reverse the roles, for eternity. (Cf. beggar Lazarus and the rich man.) Right on! Still, a film like Claude Chabrol’s La Ceremonie reminds us that social reality isn’t always so fable-simple. Some rich people are nice! Gramsci, hegemony and such. So this is good, and important, but the struggle, not to mention the conversations that attend it, must continue.