2 The Dally Tar Heel Friday, September 16, 1977
Cria!: a child's world gracefully unfolded
By HANK BAKER
Ten-year-old Ana (Ana Torrent) lives in two worlds: with
both parents dead, her gloomy reality consists of life with her
two sisters and guardian aunt. In her vivid imaginary world.
Ana relives moments with her mother (Geraldine Chaplin),
that are both tender and terrifying. This schism between the
past and the present and the problems resolving it are the
major themes in Carlos Saura's marvelous hew film Cria!
Exploring the world of a child is a tricky feat. Most
directors adopt a cloying or patronizing attitude toward the
child from the beginning, making it impossible (if not
undesirable) to empathize with the child. But Ana is not
made into a cute little tyke. She is obsessed with her mother's
painful illness and death.
Cria! is not a morbid film, but a graceful, moving work
that unfolds Ana's world before our eyes. As the film begins,
the camera lingers over the well-adorned family dining room
at night, then moves forward as Ana comes creeping down
the steps. Sounds of lovemaking behind a closed downstairs
door are interrupted by panicked choking Ana's father is
dying and his mistress is becoming more frightened. The
mistress comes out of the room hurriedly while Ana watches
her leave; the dead father lies on the bed. This is Ana's world
fear, death, secrets, muffled pain. Soon we see that as a
result, Ana is obsessed with death.
In vivid memories, Ana sees her mother react despairingly
because her callous husband disregards her and is constantly
unfaithful to her. Unable to accept hersituation, the woman
retreats into illness and dies. In one gripping sequence, Ana
sees her mother writhing in agony from the illness, begging
for death, yet afraid of it. The terrified look in the mother's
eyes is reflected in the child's. Afterwards the child creates her
own death wish and lives in a fantasy world including a box
of poison (or is it?) which Ana uses on those she believes are
responsible for her unhappiness.
Contrasting with this are the scenes concerning Ana and
her sisters, and their relationship with their unmarried (but
still-beautiful) aunt. Some of these scenes are quite funny (as
is more of the film), particularly one in which Ana and her
older sisters play-act as their parents. But even in this make
believe, there is a sad undercurrent the sisters re-enacting
the fights their parents had.
Director Carlos Saura has managed to convey both sides
of a child's world with glowing deftness. Ana is fascinating,
sympathetic and, at times, even cruel, but she is always
believable. Saura has gotten a wonderful performance from
Ana Torrent, a totally captivating child actress. With her
large brown eyes (that match Chaplin's), she can convey the
open vulnerability of a child, and yet retain an air of closed
secrecy about her. Her terror at her mother's illness, her near
hysterical crying out for the woman at night, and her
immediate cruelty to her aunt thereafter show the range of
this young girl.
Geraldine Chaplin is equally moving, though her role
becomes a bit confusing when she is also brought on
occasionally as a grown-up Ana. Yet she and Torrent
complement each other beautifully, both visually and
vocally. The tender scenes are both moving and painful, since
the reality of the mother's death is present. It is to Saura's
credit that he keeps Cria! horn being sentimental by showing
us that Ana is no innocent child, and that her mother's illness
had its roots in a self-imposed death wish.
The theme of death provides a good counterpoint to the
family portrait presented here the two sisters, the aunt
trying to cope with and learn to love three children not her
own, the aging grandmother who, like Ana, finds her only
happiness in the past. Saura is intensely interested in these
people and it is their humanity that makes them and the film
linger in the memory. Cria! is the most convincing account of
the obsessions, joys, sorrows and independence of a child's
world I've seen since Jack Clayton's Our Mother's House,
which was also concerned (though on a more chilling level)
with children carrying on after their mother's death and their
refusal to believe in the permanence of the woman's death.
Saura and Clayton have a talent for presenting children
without condescension and with a true sense of the beauty
and terror of Childhood. Cria! has a longing mood about it
that you can't shake off and you don't want to.
FUN, FOOD & EXCITEMENT...for the entire family!
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MATES UNDER 6 EAT FREE
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pops' on Sunday
The North Carolina Symphony will open
its Chapel H ill season with a "pops" concert
at 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 18, in the Forest
Theatre. Admission is free for the
performance, which is being sponsored by
the Carolina Union.
"Pops" concerts, said to take their name
from the popping of champagne corks and
not from the performance of popular music,
have, for the North Carolina Symphony,
grown out of ' the Raleigh fund-raising
"pops" concerts which have brought
financial support to the symphony. These
Raleigh performances have proved so
successful that "pops" concerts have been
added to the season as regular concerts in
several other cities.
John Gosling, artistic director and
conductor, will lead the orchestra. Works to
be performed include EnescoV'Roumanian
Rhapsody No. I," selections from
"Camelot" by Frederick Loewe, and medleys
by William Hascombe consisting of
standard hits, country and western favorites
and television themes.
The symphony, following its critically
acclaimed New York debut at Carnegie Hall
in March, begins its 46th season of concerts
this year. One of the only two major
orchestras in the Southeast, the N.C.
Symphony performs concerts for adults and
educational matinees for. school children
around the state.
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