Furtivos


Furtivos
POACHERS (1975)
   Produced and directed by José Luis Borau, Furtivos has been read both as the outer limit of the period of metaphorical films and as the threshold to the new post-Franco explicitness. Shot in 1974, in one of the most repressive moments of the late dictatorship and following the terrorist attack against Francisco Franco's second-in-command Admiral Carrero Blanco, this rural drama featured a series of elements typical of the symbolism film-makers of those years used to circumvent censorship: use of the family, hunting, and a forest as metaphorical space, recurring images (poaching, eating) that echo on several levels of the narrative. Described literally, Furtivos tells the story of a poacher (Ovidi Montillor) who lives with his mother (Lola Gaos) in the middle of a deep forest, and of the woman who comes between them (Alicia Sánchez). But in spite of this narrative simplicity, the director conveys the idea of a country muffled by a repressive system in which human behavior becomes beastly.
   The film was co-scripted with Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, whose original idea it was and whose personal memories of mysterious forests are a key part of the story. Also, Borau was particularly interested in making a film with Gaos that could display the intensity she had shown in Tristana (Luis Buñuel, 1970). The name of her character in the latter film, Saturna, led him to imagine the idea of a parent devouring her son, and he found Gutiérrez Aragón's use of a forest and elements of rural melodrama a good way to channel the story.
   In spite of attempts to conceal symbolic meanings, censors demanded several cuts and changes, which Borau refused to accept. The battle that followed, shrewdly publicized by the director in order to gain support both domestically and abroad, has become one of the legends of Spanish cinema. It built the film's reputation and created high expectations among audiences. The director knew the only way he could release Furtivos was to enter a film festival. Venice and Cannes rejected it, but San Sebastian accepted. To avoid international scandal when the film won the Golden Shell, authorities had to allow release in the version prepared by Boreau. Franco died two months after the San Sebastian prize; the instability of the times no doubt contributed to the commercial success of the film, which became one of the biggest box-office hits in Spanish film. In addition to Lola Gaos's raw performance and the sad intensity contributed by singer Ovidi Montllor, the film benefited from a nuanced cinematography by Luis Cuadrado (with contributions of camera operator Teo Escamilla). Borau himself played a politician fond of hunting, a role written originally with José Luis López Vázquez in mind.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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