“I have heard this insensible and necrophilous oath, ‘¡Viva la Muerte!’, and I, having spent my life writing paradoxes that have provoked the ire of those who do not understand what I have written, and being an expert in this matter, find this ridiculous paradox repellent.”–Miguel de Unamuno
FEATURING: Madhi Chaouch, Núria Espert, Ivan Henriques
PLOT: Fando is a boy growing up in Spain in the early days of the Franco regime, raised by his mother, about whom he has sexual fantasies. One day he discovers that his mother turned his father in to the authorities because of his “dangerous progressive” political views. In between fantasies, Fando decides to go searching for his father, but his quest is interrupted when he contracts tuberculosis.
- Like the father in Viva la Muerte, Arrabal’s own father was imprisoned by the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War (one report claims it was for an assassination attempt). After five years he escaped from custody and was never seen again.
- The title refers to a quote from the Fascist General Millan Astray: “Down with intelligence! Long live death!,” a line barked during a political debate with philosopher Miguel de Unamuno.
- The movie is an adaptation of Arrabal’s 1959 novel “Baal Babylone” (which does not appear to have been translated out of the original French).
- The sadomasochistic torture sketches first seen in the opening credits are by Arrabal’s fellow Panic movement member I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse). (for more on the Panic movement, see the background information section of
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Fando’s papa, buried in the sand with only his head showing, and a quartet of riders fast approaching.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Incestuous S&M mourning; priest’s tasty balls; slaughterhouse frolic
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: A howl of protest at the horrors of the Franco regime, as well as an autobiographical attempt to exorcise some serious mommy issues, Viva la Muerte uses surreal vignettes as a savage expression of personal outrage.
Original trailer for Viva le Muerte
COMMENTS: Fernando Arrabal’s Viva la Muerte is the kind of movie Continue reading 292. VIVA LA MUERTE [LONG LIVE DEATH] (1971)