[Last Film I Saw] The Hunt (1966)

La Caza

English Title: The Hunt
Original Title: La caza
Year: 1966
Country: Spain
Language: Spanish
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director: Carlos Saura
Writers:
Angelino Fons
Carlos Saura
Cast:
Ismael Merlo
Alfredo Mayo
Jose Maria Prada
Emilio Gutierrez Caba
Fernando Sanchez Polack
Violeta Garcia
Maria Sanchez Aroca
Rating: 7.3/10

La Caza 1966

Carlos Saura’s third feature LA CAZA won him a BEST DIRECTOR Silver Berlin Bear that year at the age of 34 (a triumph he would duplicate in 1968 with his next project PEPPERMINT FRAPPE and a final Golden Berlin Bear winning in 1981 for FAST, FAST), which is quite a prescient gesture then, Saura has a comparatively prolific career, even today, this reverend octogenarian is still making his next project. LA CAZA is only my second Saura’s entry, after the soul-pulverizing domestic tale RAISE RAVENS (1976), this time he was 10 years younger, vigorously sets up a male-predominant set-to among three old chaps in a stark hunting party, an eleventh-hour outburst bookends a weathered generation’s disaffection and angst, it is an unpolished bravura to pull the trigger in such a reckless manner, but no one would deny the sleight of hand of cinematography (the late DP Luis Cuadrado) and how Saura patiently paves the way for its drama layers and how he would detonate the time-bomb with eloquent narrative arc.

The film devices a plain story about 3 old friends (a fourth partaker is one friend’s young brother-in-law) reunite for a rabbit-hunting expedition in the rural hillside, soon their friendship would be tested under the entanglement of money problem, peer contempt and chronic discontent, starts with a premonition of one of them cannot find a first aid kit for his wounded finger.

Before the open-space shooting, they converse from hunting rabbits to man-hunting, from natural law’s priority to piranhas’ metaphor for hoi polloi, one who is familiar with that particular period of Spanish history may find access to many allusions here. The actual shooting is all fly-on-the-wall, with a dozen of poor critters being mercilessly put under the camera then waits for a headshot (in the latter half, including a devoted ferret), animal activists will go berserk (not to mention skinning the carcass), the bestiality simmering underneath all the veneer and guises is appalling and guns does facilitate the trigger-happy group.

Voiceover and close-ups are two frequent instruments punctiliously deployed here, the alternatively intensive and exotic score is a obliging company with the film’s well-controlled rhythm, the cast is fittingly in working order, and Gutierrez Caba’s fresh handsomeness is the vestigial innocence left among adulthood, at least we can still have faith until it gets tainted by the consumption of the malignancy, envy, opportunism and discrimination, I hope Saura agrees with me this time.

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