Saturday, February 11, 2012

Luis Buñuel: Una mujer sin amor

I first caught Luis Buñuel's Una mujer sin amor / A Woman Without Love (1952) at the Temple University Cinematheque on the fifth floor at 1619 Walnut -- and loved it. Now, about twenty years later, I just watched it again and still love it! A Woman Without Love is a straight up drama delving into family, gender, social relations and economics. More simply, it's a good story.   

The basis for Una mujer sin amor is Guy de Maupassant's 1888 novel Pierre et Jean, but the setting has been transferred to 20th century Mexico during two stable periods after the Revolution. Key characters include: 

Rosario Jiménez de Montero (Rosario Granados) - from a poor family, married for stability, with one young son at the start of the film (Carlitos). She is the title character. 
Julio Mistral (Tito Junco) - forester and engineer, a cross between Clark Gable and Nicolas Cage.
Don Carlos Montero -- husband of Rosario, fond of money, tamales, booze, cigars and keeping up appearances.  
Carlos (Joaquin Cordero) and Miguel (Xavier Loyá), the grown sons as doctors.
Rita (Eva Calvo), a nurse who likes Carlos.
Luisa Asúnsolo (Elda Peralta), a nutritionist-doctor wooed by both adult sons. 

In A Woman Without Love, there are neither heroes nor villains, just people within the given social system dealing with expectations -- and the unexpected.

Don Carlos, Rosario's husband, begins as an authoritarian martinet and a control freak, but softens over time. Early on, he locks Carlito (little Carlos) in his room for apparently being disrespectful:
"Isolation and hunger are the best remedies for rebels. If it was used more often there would be fewer revolutionaries."
When Carlitos escapes, Don Carlos can't believe it: "He ran away? Impossible, How could he run away if I locked him in?" (The reverse of another Buñuelian trope -- people not being able to escape, despite there being no obvious external constraints).      

Rosario and Julio are drawn to each other through circumstances created by Don Carlos. Buñuel inserts an interesting aside commentary at one point, when they are in the woods where he  works.
Rosario: "It must be marvelous living here."
Julio: "Yes, especially for me since I love the solitude and the mountains. In these woods everything is pure until men and machines arrive -- They destroy everything."

As an adult, Carlos mopes, "Talking about a dead man reminds me of the troubles of life."

But Rosario has the last say, after both Julio and Don Carlos are gone. "Mine was not a shameful affair, only an impossible
union . . . I don't ask for your forgiveness. I'm not ashamed. If you're ashamed of me, leave this house! To me, he [Julio] was my real husband -- and that society in front of which I have covered you with shame was the one that sacrificed my life and my love. My only love. Even today, being dead, he is still alive in my heart."

Today's Rune: Separation (Reversed).    


jodi said...

Erik, Love or money? No question! Always choose love-money without love is souless. x

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have never seen this one.