Los olvidados (The Forgotten Ones, Mexico, 1950)

Feral kids

Feral kids

This is a fascinating film as it’s obviously heavily influenced by neo realism however it was made by a renown surrealist, Luis Bunuel. How to square the two, apparently, disparate forms? Like his (neo realist) Italian counterparts, Bunuel shoots on location ,however he uses professional actors. Also, similarly, we are offered a ‘slice of life’ that we are invited to generalise as typical. Bunuel’s politics, like most of those who pursued neo realism, were left wing; the thrust of the movement was to show how the conditions of working people were so bad that they were forced into criminal behaviour.

Los olvidados focuses on street children in Mexico City, however, as the prologue points out, these children exist in all big cities and can’t be ignored as a feature of the Third World. As City of God (Brazil, 2002) showed, the situation is worse in some cases now. The final image of the film is amongst the most devastating committed to celluloid and it’s a shame this film is so difficult – in the UK at least – to see.

As for the surrealism, Bunuel contents himself with a terrifying dream sequence.

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