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Growing Up in the Movies
Posted September 10, 2010 to photo album "Growing Up in the Movies"
To coincide with the release of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Nick Dawson looks at more movies in which teenage protagonists are thrust into the world of grown-ups.
Slide 4: Los Olvidados (1950)
Luis Buñuel, a filmmaker most noted for his surrealist and satirical approach, made a film rooted in harsh realism with Los Olividados, a portrait of a gang of street children living in extreme poverty in the slums of Mexico City. The movie, which won the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951, told the story of children who, ignored by their unloving parents, exist in a moral vacuum where they run wild. The film’s protagonists are El Jaibo, a violent, angry young gang leader just out of juvenile detention, and Pedro, one of his friends who wants to lead a better life. Despite Bunuel’s unflinching portrayal of the sometimes brutal acts of his characters, he nevertheless sees them as victims of the adults who have forced them to grow up too soon. Film critic Nick Schager writes of Los Olvidados, “Despite its unwillingness to succumb to preachy sentimentality, Buñuel’s film is heartbreakingly sympathetic to its pint-size ne’er-do-wells, whose troublesome antics are positioned as the unavoidable consequence of unloving and uncaring upbringings. Pedro’s (Alfonso Mejía) penchant for committing petty crimes with his fellow hoodlums is vividly portrayed as a petulant response to the cold, violent mother who refuses to reciprocate his love, while the devoted Big Eyes (Mário Ramírez) is left abandoned by his father in a busy market square.” The response to the film in the U.S. was one of shock (the New York Times called it a “brutal and unrelenting picture of poverty and juvenile crime”), while in Mexico City it played only for three days as a result of the uproar it caused and the desire of the government and those above the poverty line to suppress such a depiction.