Upper-class geometry professor Juan and his wealthy, married mistress Maria José, driving back from a late-night rendezvous, accidentally hit a cyclist, and run. The resulting, exquisitely shot tale of guilt, infidelity, and blackmail reveals the wide gap between the rich and the poor in Spain, and surveys the corrupt ethics of a society seduced by decadence. Juan Antonio Bardem’s charged melodrama Death of a Cyclist (Muerte de un ciclista) was a direct attack on 1950s Spanish society under Franco’s rule. Though it was affected by the dictates of censorship, its sting could never be dulled. —The Criterion Collection
Juan Antonio Bardem (2 June 1922, Madrid – 30 October 2002, Madrid) was a Spanish screen writer and film director. He was best known for Muerte de un ciclista (1955) which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival, and Calle Mayor (1956). In 1993, he was a member of the jury at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival. Bardem is the uncle of actor Javier Bardem. —Wikipedia
Many elements are incredibly experimental, and they achieve so much that it's easy to overlook the flaws. The editing, especially, takes many risks in presenting the story in a disjointed manner, with abrupt cuts, that do not distract from the overall narrative. The dialogue is so rich and beautiful. I don't think there has been a film in my recent memory where the dialogue resonated so much from a poetic angle.
A suspenseful morality play that uses a hit-and-run accident as a metaphor for the betrayal of Spain at the hands of Franco's fascists. "Though it was affected by the dictates of censorship, its sting could never be dulled," says Criterion. The sting is so intense that how it passed through the censors is beyond me.