May 20, 1977 [Cria!]

The little girl from The Spirit of the Beehive is a bit older--but she is still solemn and waiting, her partial understanding giving her the patience to hold on and see. Cria!'s original title, Criá Cuervos, opens the window a bit more, so that we can see the little ravens learning to fly, raised in the quiet house--the dim sounds of Madrid barely a whisper. But in that silence the house also whispers, haunted by childhood. This is the dark flank of the little growing bird, feathered, punctuated by rough cries that sound deeper as the ravens grow, the little girl and her littler sister and her bigger one, the three of them together, from childhood to adolescence to almost-grown--with Geraldine Chaplin as the mother's ghost, still brushing hair, a "beckoning fair one" in the mirror.

When the needle drops and the raucous pop song sends them dreamy-dancing, the middle girl considers the value of poison--a little for each grownup, helping them along. Once more, Shirley Jackson's world asserts itself, way over there in Spain--except now it's merely bicarbonate of soda; death itself comes in by its own door. The only thing that really ends is summer, and the little ravens join the other children at school, the strange glowing glory of childhood fading into common daylight. My own girls also walk alone, stepping on the ledge--not careful, but possessed by their own desires. I don't pretend to understand them, but I can feel their sleek little feathers brush my cheek when I'm asleep as they plot to be free.


  1. I love this movie - and it has one of the great uses of a pop record onscreen.

  2. That song's catchy and awful at the same time; when the girls dance to it, though, it makes perfect sense. This movie captures the everyday secret lives of children more than many others.


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