For this month’s final entry for Genre Grandeur March – Latin Directed movies, here’s a review of La Cravate (1957) by Anna of Film Grimoire who chose this month’s genre for us all.
If you missed any of them, here’s a recap:
This month we had 16 review for GG:
- La Bamba (1987) – Rhyme and Reason
- Children of Men (2006) – Back to the Viewer
- Sin City (2005) – Drew’s Movie Reviews
- The Others (2001) – Rhyme and Reason
- Birdman (2014) – Movie Reviews 101
- Volver (2006) – Sweet Archive
- Volver (2006) – The Girl That Loved to Review
- Buried (2010) – MovieRob
- Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Movie Reviews 101
- Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Tranquil Dreams
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azbakan (2004) – Movie Reviews 101
- Elite Squad (2010) – Justine’s Movie Blog
- Elite Squad (2010) – What About the Twinkie?
- Gravity (2013) – AlexRaphael
- Gravity (2013) – MovieRob
- La Cravate (1957) – Film Grimoire
Thanks to everyone who participated this month!
In addition, I watched and reviewed 2 additional movies from this genre for my Genre Guesstimation series (unfortunately, neither of them is now among my favorites in the genre)
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by James of Back to the Viewer. We will be reviewing our favorite movies featuring a dystopian world (past or future). Please get me your submissions by 25th April by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org Try to think out of the box! Great choice James!
Let’s see what Anna thought of this movie:
La Cravate (1957)
Lost for fifty years and eventually found in a German attic in 2006, this short silent film by cult surrealist director Alejandro Jodorowsky is only about 20 minutes long, but packs a symbolic punch. La Cravate, also known as The Severed Heads or The Transposed Heads, tells the story of a romantic young man (Jodorowsky) who is in love with a fickle woman. He seeks to please her, but finds that in attempting to do so, he must almost become a new person. He decides to swap his head with that of a strong man in order to win her love.
I love Alejandro Jodorowsky. In actual fact, my love for him and his crazy films knows no bounds. Jodorowsky is a Latin American director however could be considered a citizen of the world, having been born to Russian parents in Chile, then living in Paris, and then living in Mexico, and then in the United States. He is a visionary and a cinematic magician, with a clear tendency towards the metaphysical and the mystical. His films contain some of the most stunning magical realism that is so common to Latin cinema and literature, and La Cravate is no exception to this.
For a short film made in 1957, the direction seems quite modern, using clever angles to almost fool the audience into believing that the characters’ heads are really getting switched around. The direction makes use of angular shots that focus on the facial expressions of the actors in order to convey the story – there is no dialogue, so the faces tell the story completely. Visually, La Cravate is never boring, with backgrounds made out of what appears to be re-purposed cardboard, with hand-painted detailing. The costumes are largely brightly coloured, which is a beautiful contrast with the greys and blues of the backgrounds. The story also moves along with a fast pace, which is refreshing for an avant-garde and highly symbolic silent film from the 1950’s.
There is a clear symbolism in La Cravate surrounding the process of swapping heads with someone else in order to please a potential lover, inferring that attempting to please someone is essentially a fruitless task if you’re not behaving authentically; particularly given the issues that Jodorowsky’s character faces. But there’s also a comment that Jodorowsky is making about the body and the spirit that can best be summed up in his own words – “You are not a body who has a spirit, you are a spirit who has a body”. Given that once the heads change, the bodies also change, this point is illustrated very coherently. As with all of Jodorowsky’s works, there is a clear connection between the physical and spiritual world, although it is executed in a less wacky manner compared with his other films.
I loved La Cravate, not only because of its rich symbolism, and whimsical direction and imagery, but also for the fact that although it is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first film, the symbolism and themes of his future works are very evident. Jodorowsky’s amazing films have such strong mystical themes, and the symbolism of swapping heads with another person is a great place for Jodorowsky to start. La Cravate is a different type of short silent film; one with humour, colour, and a luminous message.