"A film that quivers on the fringe, the fringe of ideas, of intuitive mysticism, as it probes into the artifices of intelectual snobery. It is playful, it is violent and disquieting, it touches and transforms conventions, in what has now become a classical preconception of surrealism -That is: yes, in some aspects the film is outdated, since it is in fact a response to the time in which it was created - but as anything with actual content, it is, timeless. Though maybe not timeless for everyone. The film is the creation of a man that is obsessed in probing the fibers of reality, and bringing out the bloody absurdity of man. This type of movie is not concerned with moviemaking in the more orthodox sense that Tarkovsky or Kurosawa, for example, are. This is the vision of a creative man using film to express ideas, they are brought to us by a film. There is no way to compare the approach you might have in viewing the great film makers as in wiewing Arrabal. But he uses the medium quite well, and in his joviality you can spot the similarities with Jodorowsky. This DVD release is quite good. Aside from the great movie you get an interview with Arrabal. In this interview, Arrabal delivers an image of a man that is immersed in his persona -he takes his shoe off and is holding it up to his head-, a person fractured and irreverent, in such a way that makes you wonder what his real intentions may be, is this intentional or not? it doesn't. But if you know anything about him it is clear he is an intelligent person. When you see the movie you are not concerned with these questions. You are just put face to face with ideas. And ideas are powerful depending on how you may put them to use. So there you are, faced with ideas tied together in panic fashion."
I cannot belive nobody has reviewed this!!!!!!
Adolph Pinelad | 02/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe Fernando Arrabal didn't enjoy the cult popularity that his partner and cofounder of " Panic" Jodorowsky did, but I'm pretty surprised that nobody has written anything on this nice and little seen movies, since they are to a certain extent better than what we have out there by Jodorowsky ( Fando & Lis, which is based upon a play by Arrabal by the way), and most fans of Jodorowsky would be familiar with Arrabal's name because of that. Besides, I don't think there's another non "studio" DVD edition that's as nice as what they did with this particular one. Arrabal is an important artist in many fields. This film and, of course, the other one that's on the market, are full with truly challenging imagery and narrative technique, and are better productions than " Fando y Lis". Even if you heard the name just because their films are known as brutal, offensive, violent and disgusting, and are not really into " art" filmmaking ( as many people would categorize this pieces) you should really chek them out: Either way, no other film comes closer to Arrabal's films. We are very lucky to have them uncut perhaps for the first and last time ever. Many people are waiting for stuff like "Saló" or " Cannibal Holocaust" to be released. They sould know that they may not be the daring landmark films legend's made out of them, at least not the only ones. I hope this DVDs are selling good so they release sometime " The three of Guernica" (which is his best movie). and " The Automobile Graveyard". I guess they didn't want to risk it that much since Arrabal, as good as he is, is most well known in Europe than here in the U.S., where barely anybody remembers his contributions to theatre, fiction and movies. For example, he even directed a movie with Spike Lee in the 80s."
Adolph Pinelad | 05/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you can't stomach real animal torture and real bloodletting then read no further. If you can remember this is a movie about atrocities so its not entirely inappropriate to have moments of the theater of cruetly. The "plot" if you can call it that concerns a young boy growing up in fascist Spain and it is a shocking, horrifying indictment of that era. Remember this film was made when Franco was alive and well albeit in France, not Spain who, however, promptly banned this film. This was a pleasent surprise to be on DVD and it is far better than the incoherent rambling El Topo. Anyway, if you can handle the strong images you may find this film fascinating. If not then make it a Blockbuster night."
Steward Willons | Illinois | 02/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Viva la Muerte" (Long Live Death - 1970) is the first and best film by Spanish surrealist, Fernando Arrabal. It's an unusual aesthetic experience (even by surrealist standard), but an aesthetic experience worth having. If you've heard of the film before, chances are it was described similar to the Amos Vogel (author of the amazing "Film as a Subversive Art"), "Viva la Muerte is a paroxysm of anguish, a scream for liberty and probably one of the most ferocious, violent films ever made." I was expecting something even more vicious than "Last House on the Left". What I got was a sweet, wistful story about a young boy growing up amidst state-sponsord repression in Franco-era Spain, although the context isn't explicitly stated and can thus stand for a more general reading of the human spirit versus the hegemonic political monster.
How could Vogel, who wrote a fantastic book on subversive film, get it so wrong? The only explanation I can offer is that his readers know him as an expert on extreme films and he wanted to see Viva as such. Sure, there's some violence, but from the perspective of surrealism, it's comical. It's shocking and there are some disgusting images such as the slaughter of a cow, but we know that the surrealists desire to shock us and they we shouldn't take it too seriously. They're just trying to be provocative.
The story involves a boy, Fando, who is fascinated by his father, a free-thinker leftist who was turned into the police by his moralist, and crazy, wife. He has fantasies/visions/dreams throughout the film of his mother torturing and murdering his father. He dreams of becoming a radical and following in his father's footsteps.
My criticism is that these dreams and fantasies look terrible due to awful camera work and annoying color filters that obscure the action. Arrabal goes to a lot of trouble to set up very bizarre and disturbing images, but then films them in such a way that you can hardly tell what's happening. If it was an aesthetic choice, that's one thing. However, I think it's probably more the case that Arrabal isn't much of a film maker and in the process of wanting a way to differentiate between filmic reality and fantasy, he ended up making these scenes look pretty bad.
Another interesting feature is what these actors are willing to do for art. One lady eats a LOT of mud, another wrestles the main character in spaghetti, the mother slaughters a cow, spilling massive amounts of the blood in the process which she then rolls around in, you get the idea . . . I wouldn't even wear the stretchy pants required to perform Vinko Globokar's "Corporel?" for body percussion, so there's no way someone is forcing fistfuls of sand down my throat!
OK, maybe the film does have some extreme content, but the mood is one of discover and wonder. It's a semi-autobiographical look at Arrabal's childhood, a time he happily remembers. I would highly recommend it to any fan of surrealism. He goes a lot further than Bunuel ever did (not necessarily good or bad), so make sure you know what you're getting into. That said, it's a unique cinematic experience. Just don't try to rent it at Blockbuster."
The diffinitive surrealist masterwork of the 70's
Robert Mizrahi | 04/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A must see for any lover of surrealist movies. Viva La Muerte along with The Holy Mountain and El Topo are the 70's surrealist Masterpieces (panic movement). Not for the faint hearted!!!"