Federico Garcia Lorca's play "La casa de Bernarda Alba" was one of his best theatrical creations. Mario Camus, a Spanish director, seemed to be a natural to bring the play to the screen. Unfortunately, what comes out on the movie is not exactly what one envisioned of a Garcia Lorca work.
First of all, this is a film devoid of the poetry Garcia Lorca gave to the play. The somber atmosphere Mr. Camus insisted in giving the movie doesn't help things either. The tension between the mother and her daughters doesn't appear to be as deeply rooted. The basic fault of the film is that even though one realizes it is filmed theater, the movie feels more claustrophobic than it should be. To make matters worse, the DVD we saw recently, has one of the poorest translations of any foreign film, as only the beginning of a speech is seen subtitled, then, nothing more is added, leaving non Spanish speakers in limbo, trying to guess what was a character saying.
There was a production of this play in Spain in the years that followed Franco's death in which the Bernarda Alba character was played by a man, Ismael Merlo, who made a sensational Bernarda by playing her straight. That production was done in a white set with everyone dressed also in white. That vision of the play is still vivid in our mind and this film pales in comparison.
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