A film about politics, and the politics of sex, power and money, with a fascinating contrast between the musty décor of past grandness and the brutalist architecture of modern times.
The last film Eloy de la Iglesia made under the Franco dictatorship and the one that suffers most from the censorship it received: 42 cuts in all. And one can understand why. A pair of siblings, Julia (Inma de Santis) and Miguel (John Moulder Brown), who look like twins, run away from home to start incestuous sexual relations on the last day of classes. Their professor of literature, Don Luis (Javier Escrivá) picks them up hitch-hiking, invites them to his stately home to stay the night but soon makes it known they will not leave. Don Luis is extremely rich, literature is only his latest hobby, after enthusiasms for shooting, drama and a life-long passion for Wagner. He lives only with his servant Jaime (Simón Andreu) whom he also picked up and gave shelter to once, after Jaime’s face was splashed all over Spanish newspapers for a crime that the narrative leaves mysterious. Jaime is just as trapped as Julia and Inma and it’s implied his role as servant involves more than lighting Don Luis’ cigarette. After a summer where Don Luis and Jaime train, dominate, humiliate and otherwise beat the siblings into submitting to their fate, classes begin again and soon the tables are turned. Don Luis becomes a prisoner. Jaime starts a sexual relationship with Julia AND Miguel. The house begins to be plastered with posters of Elvis and Rachel Welch. Rockabilly takes over from Wagner and Don Luis commits suicide at the change of events. The trio, however, decide to continue living on the estate, with Julia returning order to the house and hierarchy to the household with herself at the head of it. An extraordinary film to have made in Spain in 1975. Luis Martinez, writing in El Pais in 1996 writes, ‘More than a movie, evidence of the silences of an era/ Más que una película, un acta notarial de los silencios de una época’. A film about politics, and the politics of sex, power and money, with a fascinating contrast between the musty décor of past grandness and the brutalist architecture of modern times.
One of the film’s metaphors: