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MARAVILLAS

Spain, 1980 (MIFF 1981)

Director: Manuel Gutierrez Aragon

Maria Maravillas is a fifteen-year-old girl whose ageing father, an unemployed photographer, steals her money for his little erotic vices. Fortunately, Maravillas — as she likes to be called — has some good old 'godfathers', all sephardic Jews, who visit and care about her as true parents When she was a child, the godfather she loved most was Salomon, who once offered the little girl a ring, on condition that she came and got it, walking on the railing of a high terrace When she did so Salomon told her that she would never again be afraid in life. Salomon was expelled from Maravillas' house by his outraged friends.

Years later Salomon returns to Madrid. He is back to present a show about the life and death of the famous criminal, Caryl Chessman. Maravillas and the boy who plays Chessman like each other. After the show Maravillas accidentally witnesses an assault on a priest by some young delinquents whom she happens to know. But the thieves miss the best — an emerald hiding under the victim's shirt. Chessman accompanies Maravillas to speak with the young thieves. They all agree to take the emerald to an appraiser. Later there is a quarrel.

Meanwhile the priest who has been attacked suspects that Maravillas' father, due to his dissolute living, may be the jewel thief... But the father in turn starts to question. How is it that the priest has not declared the robbery to the police? Why did he have the emerald? The appraiser is mysteriously strangled and the emerald is missing.

The whole family of Maravillas is involved in the mess of the murder and the 'godfathers' have to ask for help from the heterodox Salomon. Salomon, during the show, makes Chessman confess that he has murdered the appraiser. Maravillas, the unafraid girl, has been saved, but... did she want to be safe at the cost of losing her first love?

Maravillas belongs to the rich Spanish surreal tradition and its narrative has an enigmatic and daring poetry. The spectator will discover his own meanings in its rich images and dialogues.

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