Los Olvidados: a damning verdict on neorealism’s aesthetic and moral positions

Gergely, Gabor (2014) Los Olvidados: a damning verdict on neorealism’s aesthetic and moral positions. In: New visions of the child in Italian cinema. Italian Modernities . Peter Lang, pp. 103-128. ISBN 303430269X

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Abstract

Los Olvidados [The Young and the Damned] (1950), Buñuel’s third Mexican film, is the story of a group of children struggling to survive in Mexico City. The film explores a theme that can be said to be typical of neorealism: the struggle for survival as a child amidst the ruins of a morally corrupt state. Pedro (Alfonso Mejía), the film’s central character, is a boy who falls in with the wrong crowd, led by the charismatic Jaibo (Roberto Cobo). He tries to go straight, but time and again his attempts fail. After he witnesses Jaibo murder the hard-working Julián (Javier Amézcua), Pedro tries to break ties with the gang. Kicked out by his mother, wanted by the police for a crime he did not commit and pursued by his former gang, Pedro is desperate and on the run. In the end Jaibo catches up with him, and murders him. The film ends with the shocking image of Pedro’s lifeless body lying on a rubbish heap on the edge of the city.
This chapter investigates Buñuel’s use of the figure of the child to reflect on Italian neorealism and its aesthetic and moral positions. It argues that Buñuel’s film is a mordant satire of Italian neorealism. Specifically, it contends that the children in Los Olvidados show striking similarities with the child heroes of Ladri di biciclette [Bicycle Thieves] (Vittorio De Sica, 1948), Sciuscià [Shoeshine] (De Sica, 1946) and Paisà [Paisan] (Roberto Rossellini, 1946), and argues that these similarities are undermined repeatedly and fundamentally, with the result that Los Olvidados emerges as a criticism of certain neorealist texts, primarily the films of De Sica and Rossellini. Central to this strategy of subversion is the figure of the child, and for this reason, this chapter will focus on the figure of the child, the environment in which the children move, the adults who figure prominently in their lives, and the fate of children in Buñuel’s film.

Keywords:Luis Buñuel, Los olvidados (1950), Neorealism, Surrealism, Mexican Cinema
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:22851
Deposited On:09 Apr 2016 20:40

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