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El Sur

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
El Sur

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

This 1983 drama is a moving and mysterious study of childhood – and it's one of Pedro Almodóvar’s favourite films

This 1983 film, written and directed by far-from-prolific Victor Erice (best known for 1973’s ‘The Spirit of the Beehive’), gives us a moving, mysterious and troubling child’s-eye view of the world. It’s also one of Pedro Almodóvar’s all-time favourite Spanish films. And the ever-present voiceover of a woman, Estrella (María Massip), recalling her childhood, first as an eight-year-old (Sonsoles Aranguren) then as a 15-year-old (Icíar Bollaín) in 1950s and ’60s northern Spain, must surely have influenced Almodóvar’s own more sombre, serious female-focused stories. 

At the heart of ‘El Sur’, which is based on a short story by Adelaida García Morales, is Estrella’s relationship with her dad, Agustín (Omero Antonutti), a loving but aloof figure who spends a lot of time apart from Estrella and her mum (Lola Cardona). He is also thought to have magical powers that mean he’s hired as a water diviner by locals. The shadow of the Spanish Civil War and Agustín’s reasons for leaving behind his family hang over the film, as well as a past romantic relationship – all of which work their power on Estrella’s imagination. It’s a fragmented, lyrical work that has some extremely powerful moments of shadowy, painterly beauty. 

Dave Calhoun
Written by
Dave Calhoun

Release Details

  • Rated:PG
  • Release date:Friday 16 September 2016
  • Duration:94 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Victor Erice
  • Screenwriter:Victor Erice
  • Cast:
    • Omero Antonutti
    • Sonsoles Aranguren
    • Icíar Bollaín
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