THE HOUSE OF THE ANGEL

Argentina, 1957 (MIFF 1961, Programme 13)

Director: Leopoldo Torre Nilsson

Although film production has been going on in Argentina since the early days of the cinema, The House of the Angelt is the first feature film from this country to be widely shown abroad. Made by by young Argentine director of Swedish origin, Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, if has its main theme — the loss of innocence — firmly set in the sociological background of Buenos Aires rn the early 'twenties. Using the technique of flash-back, he has skilfully and economically integrated the three aspects of the film—social, political, romantic — in Ana's story of her upbringing in an atmosphere of stifling puritanisrn and outmoded traditions, and of the impact of the problems of growing up on her sheltered mind. The young herorne is seen at the beginning of the film wandering in a park wirh her elder sisters and kissing a statue of a youth in a copse. The temptations of love, enflamed by the prohibitions of a mother obsessed by the idea of sin, crystallise a little later ihrough a meeting with a friend of the family, a mature man who is a liberal leader in the Argentine parliament. Attacked by his political adversaries, and suddenly discovering the corruption of his own party, he provokes one of his opponents to a duel. At the same rime as he sees the social values of hiis world crumbling before his eyes, he realises the emptiness of his own private life. Ana, on the eve of the duel, gives herself to him, romantically imagining that he is about to perish, He survives.

In the theme and background of the film we see a social order in decay, a world m which purity brings only disenchantment and the wish for death. The director accentuates the counterpoint of juvenile love and political corruption. He takes us to the heart of the tragedy of precocious adolescence; he never sentimentalises, plot and characters are subordinated to his narrative skill. All the characters are well drawn, and played, and the leading actress, Elsa Daniel, as Ana, is a joy to behold.


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