Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 24th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1971 (Viva La Muete), France, 1973 (I Will Walk Like Crazy Horse), France, 1975 (The Guernica Tree)
Director: Fernando Arrabal
Writers: Fernando Arrabal, Claudine Lagrive
Cast: Fernando Arrabal, Mohamed Bellasoued, Mahdi Chaouch, Emmanuelle Riva, George Shannon, Hachemi Marzouk, Cosimo Cinieri, Ron Faber, Rocco Fontana
DVD Released: November 15th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 90 minutes (Viva La Muete), 100 minutes (I Will Walk Like Crazy Horse), 110 minutes (The Guernica Tree)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Spanish, Dolby Digital Mono French (Viva La Muete), Dolby Digital Mono French (I Will Walk Like Crazy Horse, The Guernica Tree)
DVD Release: Cult Epics
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $79.95
Viva La Muete: In the midst of a civil war in Spain a young boy named Fando is subjected to bullying from classmates who tease him because his father was arrested by the Spanish army for committing treason. Fando world is turned even more upside down when he discovers in the form of a letter that his mother had something to do with his father being arrested. Fando refuses to believe that his father is dead and he ultimately goes on a journey in search of the truth.
I Will Walk Like A Crazy Horse: Aden leaves civilization behind after the death of his controlling mother. He finds sanctuary in the desert where he meets a man named Marvel who has special powers like communicating with animals and flying. The two quickly become friends and Aden decides to show his new friend the big city. Shortly after their arrival in the city Aden becomes more aware of mankind’s flaws forcing them to flee once again.
The Guernica Tree: Count Cerralbo is a wealthy land owner who longs for the good old days when he had more power and the peasants did as they were told. Three of his four sons are sadists who rape and pillage the people of Villa Romero. His fourth son Goya is an artist who is heel bent on challenging that status quo who falls in love with Vandale is an old spin tress who practices the art of black magic.
Surrealist filmmaker Fernando Arrabal along with fellow film director Alejandro Jodorowsky and French illustrator/novelist Roland Topor founded in 1962 a live theater group called “Panic Movement”. This experimental theater group and the Spanish civil war would serve as the two main inspirations and the driving force behind Arrabal’s cinematic output. Another moment in his life that he has drawn from in many of his films is the loss of his father who was executed for his insubordination by the Spanish army. Visually Arrabal uses the visual art of filmmaking to its fullest with his Juxtapositioning of shots and often iconic religious symbolism. I Will Walk like a Crazy Horse is clearly Arrabal at the peak of surrealist style with its cannibalistic ending that the faint of heart may want to think twice about watching this film.
The Guernica Tree is Arrabal most cohesive and straight forward film of the three included in this collection. It also features sadistic imagery that often verges beyond being subtle in the message his is trying to convey. Religion is a theme that runs through all of his films and Arrabal’s disdain for the church is evident in the many shocking moments in which characters in his films relieve themselves on religious statutes of Jesus and mother Mary. Even though these films don’t follow your typical linear narrative they hold great deal of information as most of what is going on is in the form of the various images we are being bombarded with. There are sights and sounds in these films that I have never seen in a film before that will haunt me forever. In modern cinema director David Lynch’s films are the closest example of the style of cinema that resembles the films of surrealists’ filmmakers like Fernando Arrabal and Alejandro Jodorowsky. Overall the films of Fernando Arrabal may not be as easy to digest for many viewers who are unfamiliar with his advent garde style of filmmaking.
All three films included in the Fernando Arrabal collection are presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves their original aspect ratios. The colors look nicely saturated and flesh tones look accurate. The black levels are strong and details are sharp throughout. Grain is noticeable and there is some minor print damage that is due to the source material used for this transfer in as some frames don’t look at crisp and colorful as others. There are very few instances of this of in the three films and when it occurs it never becomes distracting. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement. Overall the source material used for these three films is in exceptional shape considering these films age and the censorship issues that they have faced since their original theatrical releases.
Viva la Muerte comes with two audio options Spanish or French and both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. I Will Walk like a Crazy Horse and The Guernica Tree come with one audio option each, a French language track that is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Overall the dialog is crisp and the music and effects sound evenly mixed. There is some minor hiss that is noticeable on The Guernica Tree sound mix. There are no problems with hiss or distortion with the other two titles. Overall considering the age of these films and the mono limitations of the sound mixes these audio mixes are more than adequate in getting the job done. All three films come with removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow.
Extras for the Viva La Muete DVD include a gallery of French lobby cards, a theatrical trailer for I Will Walk like a Crazy Horse and a collectable booklet with liner notes about Viva La Muete and Fernando Arrabal. The main extra on this DVD is a eighteen minutes interviews with Fernando Arrabal in which he discusses “Panic Movement”, Alejandro Jodorowsky and he at one point removes his shoe smelling it then proclaiming “My feet smell good”. Extras for the I Will Walk like a Crazy Horse DVD include a gallery of German lobby cards, a theatrical trailer for Viva La Muete and a collectable booklet with liner notes about I Will Walk like a Crazy Horse and Fernando Arrabal. The main extra once again is an interview with Fernando Arrabal which runs about fifteen minutes in length. Arrabal continues to tell fascinating stories about his films. Extras for The Guernica Tree DVD include a gallery of French lobby cards, a theatrical trailer for The Guernica Tree and a collectable booklet with liner notes about The Guernica Tree and Fernando Arrabal. The Guernica Tree DVD also comes with a postcard that has various fascist dictators’ including Adolf Hitler on it. Rounding out the extras is an amusing piece that has Arrabal talking about Salvador Dali, Picasso and his own films in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The Guernica Tree makes its DVD debut as it is available exclusively as part of the Fernando Arrabal collection. The other two titles Viva La Muete and I Will Walk like a Crazy Horse are the same DVD’s that were previously released by Cult Epics a couple years ago. Fernando Arrabal’s cinema is original, beautiful, chaotic, disturbing and most of all thought provoking. This collection of films assembled by Cults Epics is a must buy if you are a fan of Arrabal or surreal cinema.