The Hunt (1966)

CARLOS SAURA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

Original Title: La Caza

, 1966. . Screenplay by , Carlos Saura. Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Carlos Saura had his international breakthrough with this intense psychological drama that he generously bathes in his ironic humour, a sharply directed examination of brutal masculinity in a culture that is more affected by the ghosts of its past the more it tries to ignore them.

Three middle aged men, old friends and Spanish Civil War veterans, show up on a blazing hot day at a game farm to hunt rabbits, with Paco bringing along his wife’s handsome young brother Enrique as the fourth in their crew. As they set up camp and start pointing their rifles at rabbits, they are quickly beset by their own insecurities, seeing their friends age means seeing it in themselves, after all, but the series of interior monologues that this inspires soon become conflicts spoken out loud from one to the other.

Luis is drinking too much, Jose needs money and asks Paco for a loan, who flat out refuses to give it to him, and young Quique begins eying the gamekeeper’s pre-teen daughter, while looming over them all is absent friend Arturo, who died under difficult circumstances, and it doesn’t help that they are trying to enjoy a day’s pleasure on a landscape upon which the three friends once fought the war that would define their country’s subsequent century.

It’s not difficult to predict where things are going to go as the heat grows more unbearable and the arguments between these men grow more absurd, but Saura does a fine job of justifying his shocking ending thanks to the cool, invisible control he maintains over the film’s slowly tightening cords.

Likely shot on a low budget that benefited from the one main location, the beautiful cinematography and incredibly good performances keep it from ever feeling like a cut-rate production, deservedly thrusting Saura onto the world stage and taking him to years of success with further acclaimed feature films.

Berlin Film Festival Award: Best Director (Carlos Saura)

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