Carlos Saura Richard Schickel - Essay

Richard Schickel

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Both Cria! and Cousin Angélica] are about childhood and both of them are by the man who is, next to Buñuel, the most distinguished Spanish director. But that is where their similarity ends. Cria! is a dark and melodramatic comedy, highly original in plot, about how a child misperceives her actions and their consequences in the adult world. Cousin Angélica, though more stylistically unconventional, is a rather ordinary story about an adult attempting to refine and correct the memories of childhood. Cria! is an almost entirely successful work, while the other, earlier film must be regarded as an honorable failure….

[Cria!] is at its best exploring the confusions that attend the preadolescent years. At that stage, kids have a way of being half-right about how the world works and a sunny, misplaced confidence that they have the whole thing taped. Naturally, they get tripped up a lot, but they get used to it and go bouncing off to school (as Ana does) without moral qualms or regrets. It is this ability to be both right and wrong about even such matters as death that Saura has caught in this deft and strangely touching film.

Cousin Angélica, by contrast, offers a routine story…. This muted film seems to mean more to its creator than he can communicate to an audience. Clearly the work of a careful and caring artist, Cousin Angélica fails to make manifest the emotions that inspired it and so fails to move the strangers before whom Saura has placed this otherwise well-wrought gift.

Richard Schickel, "Two Childhoods by Saura," in Time (copyright 1977 Time Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Vol. 109, No. 22, June 6, 1977, p. 76.