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El Mar back to product details

The Sea of Blood
written by chasiubao8 July 5, 2008 - 6:15 PM PDT
Villaronga's genealogy of violence immediately lunges for the jugular with opening scenes of children witnessing a political execution. The young son of the executed guerilla avenges his father's death on the child of one of the executioners, and then commits suicide. This all happens within the first five minutes in gory detail. This film is a somber meditation about the impact of witnessing murder and suicide on the psychosexual development of three young adults and their different individual responses. The film continues 10 years later where the three main protagonists are reunited. Manuel and Andreu are sent to hospice after contracting tuberculosis and Francisca has become a nun at the hospice. Villaronga uses TB as a metaphor for how the violence of the Spanish Civil War have disfigured and decimated a generation in the prime of their youth. Entombed in their neurosis, every attempt to forge deep, meaningful connections with the person of their desire is problematized by the proximity of death. Andreu abandons himself to sexual nihilism, each one of his actions in the world escalates in cruelty to slay any vestiges of feelings and vulnerability. Both Manuel and Francisca seek transcendence through religious faith. But Manuel is entrapped between two incompatible but equally potent ways of being: the earthy, corporeal pleasures of homoerotic lust versus the purity and transcendence of spiritual asceticism. His compulsive acts of penance increasingly become eroticized rituals to exorcise Andreu from his thoughts. The unbearable inner tension ultimately climaxes to a tragic, bloody end for both young men while Francisca can only find peace by renouncing and eternally burying Eros as she prepares young men for the grave. "El Mar" is Spanish for the sea and many of the scenes are inundated and flowing with blood. If the morbid medieval Catholic fatalism wasn't enough, the scenes of political executions, children committing violence, suicide, screaming young men dying in their spit and blood, cruelty to animals, sexual violence, and homicide with an ax are relentless, disturbing and overwhelming. Villaronga finds it necessary to bludgeon the audience with his message perhaps indicating obstinate virulence of those repressive tendencies in his native country?

written by talltale January 24, 2006 - 3:38 PM PST
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
A disappointing attempt to track how a trauma of childhood leads into that maze of becoming adult, Augusti Villaronga's EL MAR uses an event during the Spanish Civil War to lock four children into a horror that one excuses himself from immediately, and two others internalize until they implode/explode on the verge of their adulthood.

The look of the film is lovely and the actors do what they can. But everything here is pre-determined to the point that there is no room for growth, change, surprise or--for that matter--life. Nowhere near as transgressive as his earlier "Tras el Cristal," the film does features attractive young men (and one young woman) plus some adept old-timers and a constant undercurrent of sexuality, hetero and homo. Though not a waste of time "El Mar" offers, finally, much less than it might.


(Average 5.35)
51 Votes
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