Los Olvidados (R/I)
From its riveting Oedipal nightmare – ‘perhaps the greatest of all movie dream sequences,’ said Pauline Kael – to its wrenching final scenes, Los Olvidados draws the viewer into a reality of its own and never lets go.
Set in the slums of Mexico City, the film details several days in the life of Pedro, a young boy of the streets, and his relations with his fellow gang members, his loveless mother, and especially with the charismatic, self-serving gang leader Jaibo.
When Jaibo makes Pedro an unwitting accomplice to murder, the two boys’ fates become intertwined, as Jaibo becomes Pedro’s surrogate father, his rival, and his inescapable tormentor.
Los Olvidados was Buñuel’s first major Mexican film and his first notable work since Land without Bread 20 years earlier. It established him as a world-class director and helped revolutionise Mexican film-making.
Though much decried on its release, it won the International Critics’ Award at Cannes the following year, and in 2003 was inducted into the UNESCO Memory of the World programme.
Often described as a melodrama about urban poverty, Los Olvidados is in fact a much more ambiguous statement about yearning, loss, and the human hunger for love and redemption. Buñuel termed it “realistic, but with a subtle current of fierce and sometimes erotic poetry.” It stands today as a pinnacle of his career and a landmark of world cinema.