El Sur

El Sur
Sonsoles Aranguren

Sonsoles Aranguren

Screen Time: 70%
Role: Estrella - 8 años
Age: 9 years old
Icíar Bollaín

Icíar Bollaín

Screen Time: 20%
Role: Estrella - 15 años
Age: 15 years old


El Sur

Sud, Le (France), The South (Europe: English title) (informal literal title)


Rating: 7.8 (5 votes)
Directed: Víctor Erice
Country: Spain
Language: Spanish
Genre: Coming of Age, Drama


Somewhere in the North of Spain, Estrella's father represents an unknown and fascinating world in her childhood. As she grows up, she learns that he once had a lover, and that he's still in love with her.

Movie Reviews

A Multilayered Gem

Based on the novel by Adelaida García Morales, El Sur is a deceptively lyrical and delicately realized, yet haunting portrait of maturation, estrangement, alienation, and dislocation.

Victor Erice achieves an atmosphere that is both naturalistic and mystical by shooting in natural light to visually reinforce hues and gradations that, in turn, reflect Estrella's gradual perceptional shift towards her father. Exploring similar themes that would also pervade Theo Angelopoulos' subsequent 1986 film, The Beekeeper, Victor Erice draws an implicit correlation between geographic division and the legacy of civil war: the parallel rites of passage between the marriage of Spyros' daughter in The Beekeeper and Estrella's first holy communion in El Sur; the profoundly isolated Spyros' apicultural migration to the south that represents a similar lure of an ephemeral (or unrequited) paradise lost to the melancholic and withdrawn Agustín (as well as both filmmakers' paradoxical characterization of the south as a destination that represents vitality and figurative death); the complex role of the cinema as a place of escape and also a contemplative medium for introspection and personal assessment.

Erice further integrally incorporates cinema into the development of the multilayered narrative through a passing homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (through a preview poster at the CineArcadia) that uncoincidentally bears a similar plot of a young woman's demystification of her idolized, charismatic uncle with whom she believes she shares a profound connection (also note a similar integration of homage and narrative Erice's earlier film, The Spirit of the Beehive and the James Whale film, Frankenstein). However, unlike the intrigue of the seminal Hitchcock film, the mystery of El Sur unravels with the imperceptible weight of a tossed skein of red yarn - exposing, not a barbarous crime, but the unendurable realization of being ordinary and unremarkably human.







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