films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


El Sur

1983 / 95m - Spain
Drama, Romance
El Sur poster

There's something there in Erice's work, but it never really grips me completely. El Sur is often praised for its cinematography and while I can appreciate some of the shots and the delicate framing, the colors are often dreary and it's just not what I'd consider to be an overwhelming visual experience.

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Estrella is a young girl who lives in a northern town in Spain. She is entranced by her father, an enigmatic but mysterious man who came all the way from the south. As she learns more about her father, she finds that he was never able to fully cut the ties with his heimat and that he left behind his biggest love when he moved to the north.

El Sur definitely has its moments, it's not a stuffy drama and the mix of romance and mystery elements creates a unique atmosphere. I was somewhat bothered by the slow pacing and Estrella's somewhat uninteresting quest. I zoned out a couple of times, but there was just enough there to keep pulling me back.

The Spirit of the Beehive

El Espíritu de la Colmena
1973 / 98m - Spain
Drama, Fantasy
The Spirit of the Beehive poster

La Morte Rouge

2006 / 32m - Spain
La Morte Rouge poster

Victor Erice revisits the experience of his first ever film, a rather insignificant Sherlock Holmes feature (The Scarlet Claw) that nonetheless left a deep impression on him. With 32 minutes to fill though, Erice also elaborates on a couple of related topics, like the theater where he watched the film.

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Rather than watch Erice walk us through his recollections, he merely narrates La Morte Rouge and shows a series of (mostly) static, black and white images coupled to the music of Arvo Pärt, to create a more poetic impression. While this could've been interesting, it ends up making the film feel very distant and impersonal.

Erice's narration is way too labored. When empty buildings become "refuges for the shadows", I quickly start to lose interest and 30 minutes of that starts to feel like 3 hours. I don't think the presentation fit the theme very well, an unless you're a big fan of more classical arts, then I don't think there's much here.

Dream of Light

El Sol del Membrillo
1992 / 133m - Spain
Dream of Light poster

The 90s sure was a great time if you love documentaries about trees. Kiarostami had his olive trees, while Erice went for quince trees. I can't see I'm a big fan of these films though. Slow cinema only works for me when it's properly stylized, which is the exact opposite of Erice's documentary style.

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The film follows Antonio López, a painter who wants to capture the beauty of his quince tree. To make it even harder on himself, he wants to capture it as the tree evolves from spring into autumn. While he struggles with his painting, he is visited by some friends and fellow artists.

And that's it. We see López paint, talk to some people, and start over when he isn't happy with his current work. I'm not particularly interested in the meanderings of artists and neither the setting nor the styling drew me into the film. I'm sure there's an audience for this type of film, but I'm not part of it.