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Little Ashes Review

Little Ashes

Little Ashes was a wonderful and emotional story of a true romance that was never to be.

My rating 4.5 Stars

Little Ashes or Cenicitas is the title of a painting by the very famous Salvador Dalí. If the name Dalí sounds familiar to you, it is probably because, more than likely you have seen his work. His paintings were very popular especially around mid to late 90’s where practically every college dorm room had either a poster or a calendar of his trippy art work. No one can debate that Dalí’s work isn’t odd, but at the same time there is something intriguing about it which explains his popularity.

Little Ashes is also the name of a movie, a collaboration between British and Spanish filmmakers that was based on the painter Dalí, Federico García Lorca, and on Luis Buñuel. Lorca was a famous and talented poet and writer while Buñuel was a prominent and talented filmmaker. All three young men went to the same prestigious Spanish university and they were very close friends. They were idealists and they had a vision for the future of Spain and for the rest of the world. Each of these young men wanted to make a difference and they were talented enough to do it through their artistic means.

The story is based in very early 1900s just before the Spanish Civil War. These young men had plenty of love for their country, but not for their government. They weren’t physical fighters. Instead of fighting with their fists or guns they fought with their art and their words. They were intellectuals and they often found themselves having heated social debates about the way the world should run. They also shared their thoughts and ideas and had stimulating philosophical discussions about how to go about putting their words into action. However, the film wasn’t about the work of these young men. No, the movie is about a poorly kept secret about the lifestyle of Salvador and Federico.

The story touched on the minds of all three artists equally, but mostly focused on one fact that it isn’t commonly known. Lorca was gay and he was in love with Dalí. The main plot of the movie was this relationship. I thought this was a great angle to approach this story since it is a relatively unknown fact because Dalí constantly denied that there ever was such a relationship. Instead he claimed that Lorca tried to “screw him” but he never let it happen because he wasn’t gay. However, Lorca  was gay, but he lived in a time of Spain where it wasn’t just looked down upon, but it was also illegal. Being gay in Spain during that time was probably worse than being a terrorist today. If you were caught, you would just be put to death. Coming out of the closet in that time period was like playing Russian Roulette.

When Lorca first met Dalí he was intrigued by him. He was moved by his paintings and he was inspired by his thoughts, but he also found him arousing. Both men became good friends and they began to share a lot of their time together. They were often seen socializing by themselves as if they were a man and woman on a date; their friends suspected an “immoral” relationship and this worried them for several reasons. Their friendship was more than just a plain friendship; however, was it a romance? It was only a romance in the sense that they felt love for one another, but Dalí was perhaps too ashamed or afraid to consummate the relationship. Therefore they were never lovers.

Lorca loved Dalí for all that he was, but was rightly frustrated because of Dalí’s shame or fright. Eventually the relationship fell apart, they remained friends, but only in a technical sense. Dalí went off into the world to make a name for him and also to prove to himself that he wasn’t gay. He embraced the life of a playboy, however he was fooling no one, not even himself. Perhaps it is from this anguish that we get such great and bizarre paintings.

Little Ashes was a wonderful and emotional story of a true romance that was never to be. Those of you who watched and enjoyed Broke Back Mountain must see this film as I think it is a better example of a tragic love story. Although I didn’t hate Broke Back I didn’t find it as romantic as other did. Instead of romance I saw lust and meaningless sex between two “hungry” men. However in Little Ashes I witnessed a heart-breaking story of two people who loved each other but the shame was too powerful to overcome. Imagine being so ashamed or afraid that you would rather live your life in misery instead of being true to yourself. That is tragic!

Little Ashes was also a powerful and well made film. It was both entertaining and insightful. The acting was top notch and the story was riveting. If I must say anything negative about the movie it is that they chose to make this movie in English. In my opinion it would’ve felt a lot more natural if it had been in their native tongue, Spanish. This was utterly obvious when Lorca would recite his poems in Spanish and simultaneously the actor would overlap a translation of the poem in English. This was extremely distracting and it was difficult to understand either of the languages. I can understand and appreciate what the director was trying to do here, but I did not think that it worked in this movie. However, that wasn’t enough to ruin the entire film experience for me. I still enjoyed it very much and I think anyone who enjoys a good drama will appreciate this film as well.

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