Carlos Saura Andrew Sarris - Essay

Andrew Sarris

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[For a decade I have been looking at Saura films] and have found less and less to write about them. Some—Garden of Delights, The Hunt—are more ambitious than others, but all seem more intricate, more convoluted, and more fragmented than they have to be. Many of Saura's films … I have found particularly problematical because of their incessant juggling of fantasy and reality. From time to time I have been made aware that Saura is exploring the Spanish soul through the Franco years and beyond, but the director's symbolism tends to be guarded, mysterious, cabalistic, as if he dare not be too explicit. Similarly, his probes into repressed, twisted, often downright demented sexuality tend to be expressed with much too much facile trickery. In all these years I have come to respect Saura's intentions without enjoying his effects, or even being especially edified by them. He seems always to make omelets with the eggshells inside….

[However, to watch the] three tots dance to pop records and mimic the grown-ups [in Cria!] is to see childhood at long last as a jungle of wild feelings in which death itself is stared at without flinching. Saura deserves full credit for the behavioral beauties of Cria!, even amid the conceptual confusion of old…. It is one of the most exhilarating entertainments of the year.

Andrew Sarris, "Random Notes on Rossellini and Other Current Concerns" (reprinted by permission of The Village Voice and the author; copyright © The Village Voice, Inc., 1977), in The Village Voice, Vol. XXII, No. 25, June 20, 1977, p. 43.∗