Intimate to the point of privacy. So subtle & delicate in its handling of serious themes that the important events occur almost by happenstance; childhood trauma caught up in the greater flow of memories that run throughout. As a young woman looks back on an evocation of the past, the filmmakers tease out a whole tapestry of political history, familial relationships; with 'the South' itself as a yearning for escape.
This is my favorite Erice and one of the most shocking films I've ever seen. Watching El sur is like if Erice were showing me my childhood: as if he knew my father, as if he knew who I am, I can't imagine how this film could be better: it's just impossible. One of the best (Spanish) films of all time.
Erice has an incredible talent for using light when filming. This is a very pictorial movie, esthetically perfect. As regards structure and story-telling format, Erice seems to be influenced by Bergman, we can feel a huge distance in the characters and a beauty but cold atmosphere and all the scenes are imbued with a a strong pessimism in terms of family relationships.
In this I was hoping to find that mystery and magic that was in the other Erice film I've seen, The Spirit of the Beehive, but was mostly disappointed, as there was merely a trace of what that much better film had in spades. It still uses that perspective of childhood, but to a much less enthralling effect.
Once in a while there comes a time when one is given the opportunity to witness a special kind of other world with such a strong aura. This one deals with existentialism through the eyes of who once was a child and grew to be an individual who made their peace with life. Not all is said and it need not be - it is only important to understand what is given.