Carlos Saura Joan Mellen - Essay

Joan Mellen

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Saura deals with the configuration of the fascist personality only in the abstract, and this is the central weakness of his imaginative use of the surreal in depicting how living in fascist Spain immobilizes and laments the sensibility [in The Garden of Delights]….

In the last scene of Garden of Delights Saura, abandoning even the very thin veneer of realism with which he has cloaked his allegory, has all of his characters moving in wheelchairs, not only the still paralyzed Antonio. Staring immobile into space, they cannot look at or see each other: each selfishly pursues his own ends. With Antonio at the center, an image of the failed hope for Spain's future, they pass like marionettes before the camera. Fascism has dehumanized and devitalized them, left them shells of human beings, deadened all capacity of each to feel for the other, just as none of his family felt sympathetically toward Antonio's accident.

Saura's central metaphor is that of the absence of self-knowledge, the paralysis of individuals who have been destroyed by fascism. (p. 11)

Joan Mellen, "Fascism in the Contemporary Film," in Film Quarterly (copyright 1971 by The Regents of the University of California; reprinted by permission of the University of California Press), Vol. XXIV, No. 4, Summer, 1971, pp. 2-19.∗