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Ghost Canyon

'La Barraca' [Blu-ray]
(Domingo Soler, Anita Blanch, Amparo Morillo, José Baviera, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1945) 2020 / VCI Video - MVD Visual)

Overview: In rural Spain, a new family arrives in town to work a parcel (barraca), the townsfolk are very hostile to the idea of "another" working the land that once belonged to one of them.

Blu-ray Verdict: This classic, now for the very first time on Blu-ray and produced from a new 4K restoration, is recognized as one of Mexico's Top 20 movies of all time!

'La Barraca' is a rather successful adaptation of a novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (the man who wrote "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", "Blood and Sand" and "Beyond All Limits") and has been, for many, many years lauded as being a highlight of Mexican cinema.

Roberto Gavaldón's 'La Barraca' even won all the top Ariel's (Mexican National Film Prizes) awarded to the 1945 production, including Best Film, Direction, Screenplay, Cinematography, Actor, Supporting Actor, Film Editor, Music, Art Direction and Sound!

The production is lavish and the intentions are good here and with a lot obviously invested in special effects and the casting of the many Spanish actors who were refugees from the Civil War, and to make Mexican locales pass for Sevilla, the results are phenomenal for the day.

Filmmaker Tito Davison's (a frequent collaborator of Gavaldón) script is just magnificent and provides us with a first hour or so dedicated to illustrating all the hardships of a foreign family that arrives in town.

They occupy an abandoned "barraca" (a cabin) to work the land nearby, property of the family responsible for the tragedy of the first occupants, but soon discover that the community considers the cabin and land to be haunted.

But everybody is so mean (except for an old shepherd) that it seems it is the people who are really possessed by evil spirits for all they spitefully do many wrong things to the family members; including bringing about the death of the youngest child.

The script is a amazing and accumulates tragedy after tragedy seamlessly and yet thoughtfully. We get moments of happy times with folk music, dances and serenades, but ultimately return to tragedy for the last fifteen minutes or so,

In closing, 'La Barraca' reminded me a bit of Thomas Vinterberg's 'The Hunt,' although 'La Barraca' was made 67 years before, and its characters are more rebellious and confront the mean characters. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'La Barraca' Trailer