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  • I took this film in a video library and watched it 3 times. It is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. The techniques in the film are very modest but it's amazing what the director does with them. I liked very much this sad and quiet girl. The scene where her pet dies and she buries him is so solemn and heart-breaking. I felt sad about the old Grandmother who watches the old pictures in sadness. I also liked Geraldine Chaplin, she is very good in this role, her intimate bond with the daughter, and how she looks at Ana with sadness when the girl doesn't notice it. The scene where the girl imagines her mom combing her hair is mesmerizing. Maria's pain is very palpable.

    By the way I found some interesting information about this film. Geraldine Chaplin was dubbed in the episodes where she plays the grown Ana. It was done because the actress has a slight British accent which is not annoying or too prominent (for me at least), but the point is that she plays a grown girl, and it would be rather weird if a grown person acquires an accent in one's mother tongue if this accent did not exist during the childhood. So it was an intelligent consideration of the director.

    I recommend this movie very much.
  • francheval17 February 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    Theme song "Porque te vas" was a huge hit in Europe in 1976, and appealed even to people who didn't understand a word of Spanish. Actually, many people went to see this movie because of the song. As a film, I found it rather austere, and difficult to understand if you are not familiar with Spain's recent history, so I am amazed by the generally good reaction of the public to it.

    1976 was the year after Franco died, ending a 40-year period of civil war and dictatorship, which makes "Cria Cuervos" a historical marker in Spanish cinema. Actually, Spanish cinema had until that date been rather poor, very far surpassed by the Italian one, but this situation has lastingly reversed since that date. In 1976, the political future of Spain was still unclear, and this is maybe why Saura remains so allusive.

    Action is taking place in the early seventies when Franco was still around. It is centered around 10 year old girl Ana, the second of three daughters. Her father is is a military, which is no innocuous detail in the context of the Franco regime. Her mother is dead, but keeps appearing to her as a ghost, and talks to her, while Ana remains silent. What is going on is a bit unclear, because, very much like in Bunuel movies, reality and dream are hard to tell apart. We don't know if Ana poisons her father, who has affairs with mistresses, but what is certain is that she imagines that, and that he dies too. A symbol for Franco's death?

    After their father's death, the girls are fostered by a rigid aunt, who tries to get their affection, but fails. Ana is a silent child, obsessed by death. She plays with poison, spends a lot of time playing with a doll in an empty swimming pool. She also talks to her mute grandmother in a wheel chair, and asks her at one point if she would like to die. As the grandma nods positively, Ana offers to help her dying but the grandma recoils. There is always a grandmother character in every film by Carlos Saura.

    Like in many Saura movies, each character seems to incarnate an aspect of Spanish society. The father most likely represents the Franco regime, the mother would be the murdered Republic, the grandmother is probably a reminder of old Spain before the Civil War, and the children, Ana especially, seem to be the symbol of Spanish youth, uncertain about its place and future.

    The title refers to a Spanish proverb : "Feed the ravens, and they will tear your eyes up". Does it mean that the Spanish dictatorship did not trust its own children? Possibly, why would there be a dictatorship otherwise?

    The ending scene is powerful, as the girls go back to school after the holiday. We see a crowd of children in white blouses walking up the stairs of a high building towering over Madrid, while the theme song plays out loud "Because you are leaving". A vision of future? Looks like it. And who is leaving? Franco? Tempting guess, but the movie lets many questions unanswered.

    Geraldine Chaplin, who plays Ana's mother, was by then the wife of Carlos Saura, and as she learned speaking perfect Spanish, she played in several of his movies. As for Ana Torrent, she was at the start of an important career, as she has remained a major actress in Spain as an adult.
  • Efzed5 March 2003
    Like almost everyone i found this movie extraordinary touching and beautiful when i first saw it. I watched it several times and i realized something, it's really about Spain under Franco's dictatorship. Every character is a metaphor of Spain , the beautiful mother killed, cheated on by her military husband, the collaborating auntie who tries to educate the children, the old mute grand mother, who only wants to remember the old days (the republic) etc... every line in the movie can be heard in a completely different. The young rebel Ana is a true symbol of the spanish youth who can't stand anymore the military oppression, and who wanna be free to see the outside world (the song is reggae !). and the final scene with the hope of a new era coming (when the kids are arriving at school as a new year is beginning) is the reflection of what was about to happen in Spain (Franco died the same year). Anyway, whether you want to see its political message or not, it's just a wonderful movie, one of my favorite.
  • This film is such a splendid experience that it's difficult to really describe objectively why. The plot, the characters are revealed at a perfect tempo, keeping the audience engrossed and anticipating what's next. Any film with such sparse dialogue needs to make the rare lines worthwhile, and Saura certainly does, probably learning from Erice, the master of indispensable dialogue. Ana Torrent invites all sorts of Erice comparisons, but I see Saura taking a step beyond him here visually.

    "Beehive" was a landmark film, and unlike anything that had been made. But the camera maintained the same distance and the story was fundamentally allegorical. Saura experiments with distance, sometimes following the characters closely, sometimes giving an omniscient birds eye view of the area. Sometimes remaining a mere witness to what's happening. It's very carefully calculated to best enhance the scene and keep these extraordinary events within the realm of possibility.

    If there's such a film as a director's film, this is it. Although it is certainly worthwhile for the performances as well.

    5 out of 5 - Essential
  • A perfect sister film to one of my absolute favorites, Spirit of the Beehive. It also stars Ana Torrent and has similar themes. And I like it probably as much. Torrent, three years older but looking pretty much the same, plays the middle child of three girls. At the beginning of the film, their father has just died. Their mother (played by Geraldine Chaplin) died a while back. The film is told through the mind of Ana, who is still mourning her mother, and she often sees her. It can be confusing at the beginning. Chaplin also appears as the adult Ana, who narrates some of her thoughts, or possibly as what Ana believes she will become. This is very ambiguous. The girls' aunt Paulina is now taking care of them. The duty was kind of forced upon her and, while she's trying her hardest, it's taking its toll. She's stern and not well liked by the girls, especially Ana. There isn't much plot, per se, and what little there is shouldn't be ruined. We often see Ana's imagination and memories come to life. We see her witness fights between her parents. Later on, she reenacts them with her sisters. The film is about what children observe, how they interpret it and how they act on those interpretations. The film also has political ramifications, subtle ones that are pretty difficult to grasp. The title is the beginning of a Spanish proverb that goes: "Raise ravens, and they'll tear out your eyes." Like Spirit of the Beehive, the film depicts a child experimenting with her own cruelty and violence. Supposedly this is all a criticism of the Fascist government (Franco had just died by this point, so his regime was just on its way out). It's a very dense and fascinating movie. You'd probably still be swimming through its mysteries on a hundredth viewing. If you thought possibly that Ana Torrent was not acting in Spirit of the Beehive, this will set you straight. Her blank, soulful expression is here in full force, of course, but here you see the slightest smile creep across her face, and you can just tell exactly what she's thinking. I'm afraid I've done an awful job reviewing Cría Cuervos. I haven't expressed how touching it is when dealing with Ana's loneliness (there's a scene where she dreams that her mother pops into her bedroom to tell her a story that's just heartbreaking), or how it often straddles dark comedy, like the scenes between Ana and the maid. I think that difficulty in reviewing it shows just how layered and confounding the film is. It shoots right up my favorites list. It's easily the best film I've seen all year. Bravo to Criterion for bringing this one to DVD. Hope they also get to Saura's La Caza sometime in the future.
  • In Madrid, the orphan sisters Irene (Conchota Pérez), Ana (Ana Torrent) and Maite (Maite Sánchez) are raised by their austere aunt Paulina (Mônica Randall) together with their mute and crippled grandmother after the death of their mother (Geraldine Chaplin) and their military father Anselmo (Héctor Alterio). Ana is a melancholic girl, fascinated by death, after seeing her mother having a painful death and her father dead in bed.

    "Cria Cuervos" is a beautiful and sad movie of Carlos Saura that can be watched in two levels: in the first plane, it is a film that recalls the style of the family dramas of Ingmar Bergman. However, in a deeper level, the story is actually a metaphor of the recent Spanish political history, and each character represents a segment of their society: Ana's father represents the military dictatorship of Franco; her dying mother, the republic; her grandmother, those who miss the republic; Ana is probably the youth with a sad childhood surrounded by deaths. The conclusion is a message of hope for the people. I believe that those familiarized with the Spanish history would find many other elements, but in both levels this movie is wonderful. The title is a reference to the Spanish proverb "Cría cuervos y te sacaran los ojos" which means "Raise the ravens, and they will remove your eyes". Ana Torrent shows her amazing talent in the beginning of her successful career. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Cría Cuervos…" ("Raise Ravens…")
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I agree with some other reviewers: I think this might just be my favorite film of all time. The contrast between literal reality and imagination is beautifully portrayed. I found the way Saura plays with distance (esp at the end) to be perfect. The recurrent view of chicken bones is a deft touch. The acting by Ana Torrent is the best acting work by a child that I have ever seen. Geraldine Chaplin is awesome (as is her Spanish) and the scenes between mother and child are painfully tender. As someone who works in the medical field, I also found the scenes of the woman with the "locked-in" stroke to be very true to life. The song (porque te vas) is perfect- catchy, pop, and sad all at the same time. I saw this with my mother in Paris in 1976 and we both walked out irretrievably altered by the film.
  • What a wonderful movie! Saura has succeeded showing us the inside of childhood. One has to be a great artist to be able to reflect the true feelings of a child thrown in the turmoil of life. Little Ana's eyes are a world of suffering, of understanding, of emotions. This child has seen death, she has known it directly and she has no fear. Either to experience it or to give it or to see it. Thank you Mr Saura, after 23 years, you still give us these great moments of life.
  • I have seen several thousand films in my life and this one became the top one almost instantly. Ever since I have watched it several times and it has never failed to impress and delight me - it even increases the sense of mystery undelying in its baroque and compelling history. On my opinion, it is Carlos Saura's masterpiece and perhaps the best film ever made about the mysterious inner world children live in and create. There is so much to be enjoyed in this film, that a conventional review will not make it justice.
  • AfterD'arc3 March 2000
    10/10
    so true
    When death enters childhood it becomes a part of life without the real understanding of the matter. Little Ana from a viewer (witnessing her mother's death) tries to become a punishing hand of destiny, truelly beliving she killed her father and her aunt. And all this without loosing any of the "sweet" naivity. Her melancholic, grown up expression, strong feeling loneliness, gives the character to the whole movie and breaks your heart.
  • Sensational film that dispenses a brooding plot and considered to be one of the best Spanish films , in fact was voted one of the best Spaniard film by professionals and critics in 1996 Spanish cinema centenary . Well directed film by Carlos Saura , including his own story and screenplay , who tried to create an enjoyable flick plenty of symbolism and metaphor by tackling a description about a particular family formed by three little girls , their stiff aunt and grandmother . This slow-moving and intelligent picture is well set in Spain of the 70s , in Madrid, the orphan sisters Ana , Irene, and Maite (Ana Torrent ,Conchita Perez , Maite Blasco) are raised by their spinster aunt (Monica Randall), after dieing their mother by a painful illness , and living together their silent and wheelchair-bounded grandmother . Melancholic Ana is traumatized after viewing death of her daddy (Hector Alterio ) in bed and painful disappearance her mum (Geraldine Chaplin who married Carlos Saura) , and she drifts into her own fantasy world . The fragile , single little Anna dreams of meeting her mom and she is obsessed by death .

    Sensitive film full of feeling , haunting mood-pieces , wonderful images and sense of wonder . However , it turns out to be some claustrophobic , being mostly filmed at a Madrid mansion and brief outdoor scenes in Quintanar, Segovia, Castilla y León . This extraordinary flick spells through intricate patterns of frames , sets , sound and color . The title in Spanish stems from the phrase "Raise ravens and they'll pluck out your eyes" , the equivalent phrase in English would be "you reap what you sow". This film was notorious in the years of the Franco's downfall dictatorship including provoking and polemic issues and played by known and prestigious actors as Geraldine Chaplin , Monica Randall and Hector Alterio . In addition , a magnificent support cast such as German Cobos , Mirta Miller and special mention to Florinda Chico as a likable servant . His style is pretty much dry in the atmosphere as in the fresh dialog , as well as realistic , and including fantastic elements as when appears the ghost mother . ¨Cria Cuervos¨ is one of Saura's undisputed masterpieces and fundamental in his filmography where shows efficiently some peculiar characters and shot at the height of his creativity, in a period cultural difficult, where the enormous censorship of the political regime exacerbated the ingenuity and imagination of the scriptwriters . Splendid , luxurious photography with juicy atmosphere by Teo Escamilla who along with Luis Cuadrado are considered to be two of the best Spanish cameramen , both of whom worked for Saura . Interesting screenplay by the same director based on a original story . Moving and emotive musical score by Federico Mompou and of course the unforgettable theme song "Porque Te Vas" sung by Jeanette that was an enormous European hit , and appealed even to people who didn't understand Spanish language . This touching picture will appeal to Spanish films buffs ; being deservedly nominated for Golden Globe , and another 8 wins & 3 nominations . Rating : Top-notch and outstanding movie , worthwhile seeing .

    The motion picture perfectly produced by magnificent producer Elias Querejeta was stunningly directed by Carlos Saura , a good Spanish movies director. He began working in cinema in 1959 when he filmed ¨Los Golfos ¨(1962) dealing with juvenile delinquency from a sociological point of view . He subsequently made LLanto por Un Bandido (1964) starred by an European all-star-cast . Saura is a well recognized filmmaker both nationally and internationally, and in proof of it he won many prizes among which there are the following ones: Silver Bear in Festival of Berlin for Peppermint Frappé (1967) and the successful La Caza (1966) that also won numerous prizes in International Festivals and in which four characters facing each other and terminating into a jarring burst of violence . Saura achieved Special Jury Awards in Cannes for La Prima Angélica (1974), in 1973, and for Cría Cuervos (1976), in 1975. Also, the film Mamá Cumple Cien Años (1979) got an Oscar nomination in 1979 as the best foreign film, and it also won the Special Jury Award at the San Sebastian Festival. He subsequently made ¨Deprisa , Deprisa¨ based on facts about juvenile delinquency in Spain since the 80s , as he tried to take a position in favour of outcast people and he got to make a both lyric and documentary-style cinema . In 1990, he won two Goya , The Spanish Oscar , as best adapted screenplay writer and best director . Saura became an expert on Iberian musical adaptations as ¨Carmen , Amor Brujo , Bodas De Sangre , Sevillanas , Iberia , Salome , Fado, Flamenco ¨ and even recently Opera as ¨Io , Don Giovanni¨
  • akun15 August 2001
    I've just finished seeing this film, and its just great. Ana Torrent, for her age is amazing! Through the eyes of Ana, i saw death, and sadness.....her childhood is awful and unexpected. We all have been childs....and we know of what Carlos Saura is talking Just Great
  • pablopaz23 December 2000
    The title is from a Spanish proverb: "If you raise (cria) crows, they will peck your eyes out." Cría is a pun also: it means offspring, young, especially of wild animals. The query behind this whole movie is just who does young Ana resemble? Whose cría is she? Carlos Saura's entire oeuvre deserves more attention; this and his dance movies will convince you of why.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is hard to be a child no matter what country or times you live in. It is unbearably painful for a child to lose their most beloved and close person in the world, to miss them enormously, to try to come to terms with their loss, to make sense of it. It is hard to live during the time of historical changes in your country even if you live during the time of peace when the devastating wars are over and your family belongs to the privileged ones. Is childhood really a happiest, most innocent, brightest time in life of a person or is it confusing, scary, sad? Or both? Is a child who honestly wishes her caregiver dead, a little psycho or is she innocent and the wish is her way to cope with the reality that her beloved mother would never again smile at her, kiss her and play piano for her and nobody would ever substitute her however hard they try? I kept asking all these questions while watching the truly beautiful, dreamlike, absolutely non-sentimental, serious yet optimistic and darkly funny film Cria Cuervos aka Raise Ravens or Secret of Ana written/directed and produced by one of the Spanish most celebrated filmmakers, the favorite director of Luis Bunuel, Carlos Saura. Nine years old Ana Torrent, a delicate little girl with the huge sad dark eyes that look directly in your soul and see something way beyond this world, is IMO one of the most memorable and touching children actors I recall. Continuing with the theme of her fascinating and unforgettable debut at 1973 Spirit of the Beehive, she gives in Cria Cuervos performance of the life time as a little girl who creates the fantasy world where death has no power over her love for her dearly departed mother. Cria Cuervos is an amazing must see movie. Very much can and has been said about its complexity and symbolism, and analogies with the real changes in the political and social life in Spain at the time. I just want to add that it is a perfect sublime movie made by a very talented and intelligent director about complexity of the times of childhood that could be happy yet very sad.
  • Braddigan30 November 2008
    There is nothing much more sad than a pretty porcelain child with a broken heart. This movie delivers this cry-fest phenomenon splendidly. Emotional wrenching is one reason why we watch movies. This film will wrench you far and wide. There is a lot more to this movie than emotional and emotive story-telling. There is social commentary; an astute condemnation of the Franco regime and the patriarchal, hypocritical, repressive social system that he imposed. Filmed when cranky Franky was on the death-bed and released immediately after he succumbed, this film is an enlightening indictment, and a reminder. It portrays the old, the repressive, and the new, and the differences between them. The film is also just a brilliant piece of artwork. It is slowly-paced, revealing its prizes and drama in a slow, sad build-up. It is over-all, subtle, something which should be highly prized. Franco and the evils of fascism and patriarchy are not standing around in masks, shouting out slogans. No, they are not in your face. They are covertly placed and symbolically represented. Ignore them, if you want, but recognizing them enriches the experience of the film. Of course, simply enjoying the film simply for its aesthetic and narrative beauty is very much sufficient. The acting is phenomenal. Child-actors are problematic things, but Saura and crew managed to extract astounding, pure, talented acting out of the young girls, as well as the other actors. The protagonist, of course, stole the show. Doleful beauty is the most deeply affecting thing there is.
  • rafajs7717 August 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    You should see this movie no matter what, but if you have ever considered yourself a fan of Spanish cinema, your experience is incomplete without this classic.

    It is haunting...pay close attention to the little girl's terror after she believes that she has poisoned her father, but then seems comfortable enough with this to use the poison again for an act of compassion only to realize it was never poison to begin with. This part of the plot, as well as other elements of the film leave you grappling with your confused emotions. It is great!

    I will not waste your time by writing more. The other reviewers got it right. Go rent it!
  • I first saw this film while I was a student studying in France. I was so taken by the film, with its extraordinary portrait of childhood, that I sat through it a second time the same day! It has been number one on my list of all-time favorite movies with no real rivals until this year's Cannes Prize-winning film "La Vita E Bella" which is in second place (also a fascinating study of life from a child's perspective). Although most Europeans are familiar with this film, I have never met one person in America who ever saw (or even heard of) the film. What a shame.
  • Cría Cuervos offers you one hundred five minutes of pleasure. I can´t find words to describe the work of Ana Torrent, she is perfect (her face remember a japanese manga´s character, her work is gratefull!).

    Geraldine Chaplin's character smells sad, loneliness, the most deep pain. When she play the piano with her thins fingers she makes you cry. The director Carlos Saura must to be between the mounsters and genious of the international cinema history.

    8/10 HJN.-
  • As yet unavailable on DVD in the UK, this brilliant Spanish classic is now back on the big screen in a beautifully restored print. Thirty five years after it was made, Cria Cuervos is (by and large) just as potent and relevant as it was when first released.

    There is a scene, quite early on in the film, where a young girl called Ana, and her two sisters, walk into their aunt's bedroom and start playing with her makeup and wardrobe, rouging their cheeks and applying lipstick in copious amounts. I think, at that point, almost everyone in the screening, tried to hide a sardonic smile.

    However, it is not for its ironies when seen in the present day that we remember this film most. We remember it because it offers us something we very rarely see in cinema: an honest, sincere evocation of childhood and the gradual, warped loss of innocence. That is the premise of dozens of films, I realise, but seldom is anything like this achieved; movies of this type are either cloying and sentimental, or else sensationalised and melodramatic. Neither obtains the poignant sense of disquiet that 'Cria Cuervos' generates.

    The film begins with Ana losing her father. Her mother, we quickly learn, died a few years ago, and Ana is left an orphan. She and her two sisters are sent to live with their aunt – a fundamentally kind, but authoritarian guardian who Ana, yearning for her own mother, instinctively rebels against. We follow Ana's story from the time of her father's death to the end of the summer holidays, after which she will start school with her sisters.

    This, I hasten to add, is a very simplified, desiccated overview of the plot. It is a film packed with nuance and subtlety. We learn that Ana's father was in fact a soldier under Franco's regime, and had at one time fought alongside the Nazis. In one of the most memorable scenes in the film, Ana finds her father's gun, still loaded, leading to a tense scene with her aunt and her aunt's lover.

    Ana is a fascinating child. The eagle eyed film buff might remember the actress who plays her from 'The Spirit of the Beehive', another Spanish classic which deals with similar themes, albeit in a different way. Most striking are those large, brown eyes of hers; Ana is a quiet, observant child, disturbed by her brief glimpses into the adult world, gradually accumulating as she grows older. How much does she understand? Obviously, when Ana grows into an adult and narrates the story through flashback, hindsight will let her comprehend the things she has seen. But what of when she is younger? The answer is largely subjective. The film draws many comparisons between Ana's grandmother and the young Ana herself – the old woman is paralysed, in a wheelchair. She is capable of hearing and seeing – and understanding the things other people say. But she never says anything. Whether this is part of her affliction, or a conscious choice, is left deliberately ambiguous. What we can see is that Ana sympathises with her grandmother, and a gentle, compassionate relationship evolves between the two.

    I could go on. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the film is the way it seamlessly blends fact, fiction and memory so beautifully and precisely, without ever losing sight of its ultimate goal; indeed, this very blending lends the film an incredible authenticity. Ana feels isolated and alone – her fantasies, from the shocking to the seemingly banal, are desperate and painful. The opening montage, as well, of a collection of family photographs, is extremely subtle and masterful in the way it has us beginning to formulate questions and suspicions – some of which are assuaged, some of which aren't.

    What a treat this is for any film fan! Carlos Saura (the director), was of course one of the great opponents of the Franco regime, while also rated as one of the most important Spanish directors of the 1970s. This is probably his most well known and powerful film. Childhood can be a frightening, confusing, and sad time, and Saura, with what is arguably his masterpiece, has captured that beautifully. Don't miss!
  • Ana (Ana Torrent), a sad-eyed little girl of about eight years old, unable to sleep, overhears a conversation as she walks down the stairs to get a glass of water. The voices, coming from her father Anslemo's (Hector Alterio), room, are exchanging expressions of mutual love. Ana hears the gasp of a man's voice crying that he is suffocating and then silence. A woman that she recognizes as Amelia (Mirta Miller), the wife of army officer Nicolás (Germán Cobos), her father's best friend, hurriedly leaves the room and heads for the front door, her blouse still unbuttoned. When the girl goes into her father's room, he is dead. She calmly takes the almost-emptied glass of milk next to his bed and washes it in the sink, then carefully puts it back on the kitchen rack.

    It's title derived from the Spanish proverb "Raise ravens and they'll take your eyes," Carlo's Saura's haunting Cria Cuervos is a masterful insight into the mind of a little girl traumatized by the death of both of her parents. We see events from Ana's perspective and its fragmented view of an imaginative but angry and resentful child is a mixture of fantasy and reality that is often hard to separate. The film is also seen by some as an allegory for the mindset of the dying days of the Franco dictatorship. Whether it is viewed as a political statement or not, Cria Cuervos' evocation of the painful memories of a child whose grasp on reality is fading is masterful and deeply moving, especially given Ana Torrent's heartfelt and authentic performance.

    Ana is one of three sisters. The older one is Irene (Conchita Pérez) and the younger one is Maite (Maite Sanchez). The little girl has visions of her mother talking to her, giving her advice about staying up too late, and reading stories to her in bed. Ana deeply longs for her mother (Geraldine Chaplin) who died of a painful illness before her father passed away. In voice-over we hear the adult Ana (also played somewhat confusingly by Geraldine Chaplin) recalling her memories from childhood and she has little good to say about them, saying that she remembers it being "interminably long and sad, full of fear." The children are now under the care and protection of their Aunt Paulina (Mónica Randall), who lacks warmth and affinity, and some have compared her haughty nature to the authoritarianism of the Franco government.

    As a result, the children are much closer to Rosa, the family maid, who talks to them about family secrets even though much of what she says goes over their head. Also living with them in their country estate is the girls' grandmother, disabled and unable to speak who loves to look at family pictures on the wall, trying to recapture her fading memories of the past. The girls play at being adults. Irene puts on her aunt's bra and does her lashes. Pretending to be her father, Irene draws a moustache on her face while Maite wears high heels. Ana puts on lipstick as they act out their version of memories recalled from the many arguments they heard between their unfaithful father and their depressed and anxious mother.

    The motif of death runs throughout the film. Ana believes she poisoned her father and fantasizes about also killing her aunt. She even mixes some baking soda in her aunt's milk, thinking it is poison. In one sequence, Ana looks down a busy Madrid street from her roof and pictures herself jumping to her death. The children also play hide-and-seek in which the one whose hiding place is discovered has to pretend to die and remain "dead" until Ana offers a prayer to her guardian angel to "revive my sisters." Although we are somewhat buoyed by the scene of the end of the summer with the girls going back to school, we are left to wonder whether the family's cynicism and negativity will carry over into the children's adult life. The adult Ana's voice-over, heard without any context, is not promising.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    After her successful appearance in The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), Ana Torrent again becomes the centre of a film about childhood experiences.In Cria Cuervos, Ana once again delivers her role successfully, thanks to the innocence and honesty she puts in her character. What's more, she delivers her role without repeating her character in The Spirit of the Beehive.

    SPOILERS FROM HERE

    For young Ana, a major crisis in life begins very early when she witnesses the painful death of her mother and then the death of her father. The concept of death haunts her from then on as she remembers the happy memories she had with her mother and how her father constantly cheated on her mother. In real life, however, she has to face an aunt who tries to educate Ana and her two sisters in her strict manner now that she has become their guardian after the death of their parents.

    As I went on to experience Ana's past, in her memories, and her present, in her relationship with her sisters, her aunt and others, the question which, especially in the final half hour of the film, came to my mind was if Ana would be able to form a kind of mother-daughter relationship with her aunt.
  • kikoshaus1 October 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    One of the risks of recommending this amazing film to your friends is that you might look totally wacky and/or slightly creepy for them. However, if they're good friends they will just think you've got simply the best taste on Earth and, you care about the good films. In any case, this film is just a treasure and yes, this film was shot during Franco's times but it could be filmed now and still would have gotten the same structure and an atmosphere of weirdness, excellence, tragedy, suffering, mysticism, innocence, lust and mystery you breath while watching "Cria Cuervos". Ana is just a terrific character; sometimes you don't know it's a kid, a creature, a woman. You end up realizing it's just a kid has been living stories that do not correspond to her short age. Ana's relationship with her mom is a mixture of intense love, intelligence and somehow creepy love. It's just exquisite the combination of feelings and anti-feelings the director draws for his characters. Ana plays with her dolls because-she-is-a-kid but at the same time she keeps poison just in case though she knows why she keeps it. You see her innocent face but it's also a face of decision and character, of a woman that it's still a kid. The main song of this classic movie is "Por Que Te Vas" and it becomes pretty much a hymn rather than just a song, especially when it's played for the last scene... you can't no love this scene and its music! "Cria Cuervos" is just marvelous and, undoubtedly a unique piece of art.
  • ThrownMuse30 September 2007
    This gorgeous film can work as something of a companion piece to the sublime 1973 Spanish film Spirit of the Beehive, also starring wide-eyed girl-wonder Ana Torrent. It tells the tale of a a group of three young girls whose parents both die in separate incidents. They are put into the care of their Aunt, who doesn't want them to dwell upon their tragic experiences. The story is told through the perspective of Ana, an imaginative (and rather morbid) girl who tries to understand the complicated adult world and the authority figures that surround her. She believes that she murdered her father with poison, and that her mother visits her in the night. The film doesn't really have any other narrative--it's more of a glimpse into the life of a young girl's summer after experiencing tragedy. Due to this unconventional structure, it can be a bit slow and frustrating at times, but if you stick with it, you might find it to be a rewarding viewing. It's an exceptionally beautiful film, and like Spirit before it, it is never condescending to its lead character. The film is also a fascinating socio-political commentary on post-Franco Spain, and is rich with symbolism and metaphor, much of which I probably didn't catch upon first viewing. However, if you don't have a working knowledge of Spanish history, the film does a fine job as a family drama.
  • MartinHafer12 December 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    I see that this film has an IMDb score of 8.0 and is one of the much respected released from The Criterion Collection--so I assumed it must have been a really worthwhile film. However, after seeing it, I felt strangely ambivalent and have no idea what others see in this strange and unsatisfying movie.

    The film begins with a father dying while in the act with the wife of one of his friends. However, his middle child, Ana, thinks she killed him--after all, she gave him poison! Throughout the film, this melancholy and rather psychotic kid behaves strangely--like she could use about a dozen years in therapy. Some of this is because she's grieving her mother's death (she died a few years before the father) and part of it is that she's just freaking weird. For example, when Grandma complains that she doesn't enjoy life any more, the child suggests that she give her poison!! And, to test it out, Ana poisons her guinea pig. Later, when she's angry and displaces the anger on her Aunt, Ana then tries to poison her but it has no effect at all. And, soon after, the movie ends.

    The acting is pretty good and I know it's not easy to get natural performances out of kids. I can respect that. As for the plot, however, it left me really, really cold and confused. What was enjoyable or insightful about this film?! It just seemed weird and a bit stupid.

    By the way, why were there always chicken feet in fridge? Was there some symbolism about this in Spain (where the film was made)? Did I miss something?
  • A criminally overlooked classic of Spanish cinema, You should see this movie no matter what, i'm not gonna say much The other reviewers got it right.
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