Superb flamenco in Saura’s ‘Llanto por un bandido’

Superb flamenco soundtrack in an extraordinary sequence of Carlos Sura’s Llanto por un bandido/ La charge des rebelles, with Francisco Rabal and Lea Massari. Carolo Rustichelli designed the score; the songs, flamenco and traditional folklore, were adapted by Pedro del Valle, sung by Rafael Romero and Luisa Romera; on guitar and speaking to the times in the billing ,Pedro del Valle (hijo/son)


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Luis Buñuel cheekily plays the executioner in the opening sequence
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Legendary dramatist Antonio Buero Vallejo is the town cryer
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Lino Ventura and Francisco Rabal fight it out to the death
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as in Goya’s ‘Duelo a garrotazos’


In his autobiography, Si yo te contara, Paco Rabal (Madrid, El Pais/ Aguilar, p. 257) Rabal recounts, how Saura’s brother, Antonio, one of the most distinguished late20th-century painters in Spain, helped dress the sets, something that may account for the traces of a history of Spanish painting the film everywhere evident in the film.



Jose de Ribera’s ‘Boy with a Flower-pot, top left; Velazquez’s portrait of Sebastian de Morro; Goya’s etching of Velazquez painting, top left. On the bottom an image from Saura in Llanto para un bandido; on the left de Ribera’s El patizambo. It’s clear the extent to which the images in the film — stark, elegant, striving for a realism that highlights character and conditions — are indebted to Spanish painting, particular Goya and Jose de Ribera. The image from the film below, for example, conveys the chiaroscuro lighting of the era, the relative simplicity and starkness, the evocation of a way of life through details of food and clothing; the demonstration of of ordinary, daily tasks, and of course the central focus on working people:

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Recalling Spanish classical painting
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Even Lino Ventura can’t help but look a little bit ridiculous with that headgear.


In his biography and autobiography, both wonderful, we’re told how the film was a multi-lingual co-production and how Ventura, Massari and Rabal would speak to each other in Italian on the set. I’ve written more extensively on dubbing Rabal in another post, but as if working in various languages and dubbing different actors for different markets wasn’t distancing enough, Rabal speaks of how the film itself aimed for a Brechtian distanciation.


Various posters, under various titles, for a film that ended up a flop.


3 thoughts on “Superb flamenco in Saura’s ‘Llanto por un bandido’

  1. Although it seems commonly held that La caza was his first masterpiece because it was at that point that he started working with Elías Querejeta & Co. (who enabled him to step up a level), I think that there are nonetheless flashes of brilliance in both Los golfos and Llanto por un bandido – there are aspects that already point to where he was going as a filmmaker. For example, how integral music is to his films (particularly how the rhythms of the music influence the editing/ structure of a scene). It’s been several years since I last saw Llanto por un bandido, but I remember being struck both by how much of the music is diagetic – the camera moves and suddenly you see the person who is singing/playing – which seems (to me) very unusual for the time, but also how music often seems to be the leading component, that it shapes other aspects of the filmmaking (my memory is that when Ventura and Rabal exchange blows in that fight, it is in time to the music).

    1. The music is simply gorgeous, his use of landscape is outstanding, the camera moves so fluidly, and I’m just uncovering the indebtedness to a history of Spanish painting; how carefully the images are composed to recall Goya and de Ribera. It’s superb. My only regret is that I saw it in a French version thus losing the splendidness of Paco Rabal’s voice.

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