Saturday, October 3, 2015

360. La joven/The Young One (1960)

Running Time: 95 minutes
Directed By: Luis Bunuel
Written By: Hugo Butler and Luis Bunuel, from the story Travellin' Man by Peter Matthiessen
Main Cast: Key Meersman, Zachary Scott, Bernie Hamilton, Claudio Brook, Crahan Denton


The original plan was to set my alarm for eight a.m., get up and knock out a couple of movies while my wife was at work. Except my dog got an upset tummy in the night and kept both of us up all hours. Therefore, when the alarm went off this morning, I slept right through it. I still managed to get awake by ten and I've knocked out one movie already - The Young One.

The plot is pretty straight forward. The film takes place on an island, populated only by a game warden, Miller (Scott), a grandfather and his teenage granddaughter, Evvie (Meersman). When the film gets underway, the grandfather has just died, leaving only Evvie and the game warden, whom she looks upon as a father figure, despite his meanness toward her. One day, a black man rows ashore and despite a sign warning trespassers to flee, a boat without gas and the fact that he has no food, make him ignore it. He happens to come ashore during a time when the game warden has gone into the mainland to get supplies, meeting up only with Evvie, who reluctantly feeds him. The black man, Travers (Hamilton), takes a shotgun and a can of gas, leaves $20 for it and heads out. Except his troubles continue when he accidentally shoots a whole in his own boat. Meanwhile, Miller returns from the mainland to find a missing shotgun and missing gas, beating Evvie for giving it to Travers, whom she tells him of. Travers eventually returns to the cabin that Evvie and Miller occupy and is greeted by a very racist Miller. It should also be mentioned that Travers is on the run, as he's been accused of the rape of a white woman, adding even more fuel to the fire heading into the climax.

This film has made me realize just how versatile Luis Bunuel is. You've got the early period and films like "An Andalusian Dog" and "The Age of Gold", his middle period which showcases films like this one - which were quite normal by comparison. And, my favorite period, his late period which presents us with films like "Belle de Jour" and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie". All very different films, by a seemingly different person and if one didn't know better, you'd be hard pressed to convince that person that all of these eras were from the same man. In fact, it's entirely possible for someone to both love and hate Luis Bunuel - in fact, I'm one of them. I admire his late mind benders like the ones I mentioned, as I believe they have qualities that make them rewatchable and memorable. However, films like "Los Olvidados" and "Land Without Bread" are nigh unwatchable and films I never hope to revisit.

I could probably write paragraph after paragraph about "The Young One" - talk about the racism aspects, the social class aspects and the pedophilia aspects, but I'd rather keep it simple and just give my quick and dirty thoughts. I liked it, I suppose. It certainly wasn't bad, by any means. But was it good? Not particularly. It was just sort of there and when it was over, I wasn't happy or sad for it to have ended. Sure, there were lots of issues that the film tackled, but I'm not necessarily in the business of dissecting social issues or even racial issues. As I sit here writing, it makes me wonder why filmmakers through the ages have tackled such issues? I mean, I'm not racist. I treat everyone equally - I'm proud to say there's not a racist bone in my body. However, if I was ambitious enough to make a film, I certainly wouldn't find it cathartic or even necessary to tackle a film about race. I guess some people are just deeper thinkers than I or are, perhaps, more bothered by bigotry than myself. I'm bothered by it, sure, but my approach is to ignore it, rather than to shine an even brighter spotlight on it. Okay, I'm rambling.

If you're looking for a top notch Bunuel, go with his later stuff. It's much easier to digest, despite being more confusing as far as plot goes. The confusion adds intrigue and makes you need to know exactly what's going on. The earlier stuff is just too out of this world for my tastes and if "The Young One" is any indication, his middle period is just bland.

RATING: 6/10  Not bad, not necessarily good, but I'll easily put it closer to the good side than the bad side.


October 3, 2015  12:44pm

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