Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Morrison|
|Produced by||Carlo Dusi
|Written by||Philippa Goslett|
|Music by||Miguel Mera|
|Edited by||Rachel Tunnard
Factotum Barcelona S.L.
Met Film Production
|Distributed by||SOROlla Films (Spain)
Kaleidoscope Entertainment (UK)
|Running time||107 minutes|
Little Ashes is a 2008 Spanish-British drama film set against the backdrop of Spain during the 20s and 30s, as three of the era's most creative young talents meet at university and set off on a course to change their world. Luis Buñuel watches helplessly as the friendship between Salvador Dalí and the poet Federico García Lorca develops into a love affair.
The detail of the relationship between artist Salvador Dalí and poet Federico García Lorca has long been the subject of speculation and debate amongst historians and biographers. In Little Ashes, Dalí and Lorca's feelings are shown deepening into a love affair that the sexually-repressed painter tries and fails to consummate.
Between 1925 and 1936, during the course of their friendship, Dalí and Lorca exchanged numerous letters. The original manuscripts of Dalí's letters to Lorca are held by the Fundación Federico García Lorca in Madrid and those of Lorca to Dalí are held by Fundacion Gala-Salvador Dalí in Pubol, as well as in private collections.
In 1922, 18-year-old Salvador Dalí (Robert Pattinson) arrives at university in Madrid. The Residencia de Estudiantes, or Students' Residence, is a modern environment which encourages Spain's brightest young minds. Salvador, who is determined to become a great artist, soon catches the attention of the Resi's social elite — poet Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltrán) and aspiring filmmaker Luis Buñuel (Matthew McNulty). Together they form the nucleus of the most modern group in Madrid.
Their private lives become increasingly complex as Federico ignores the advances of devoted friend and writer Magdalena (Marina Gatell), and Salvador himself feels the pull of Federico's magnetism. Luis, becoming increasingly isolated by the duo's closeness, decides to move to Paris to fulfil his own artistic ambitions. Meanwhile, Salvador and Federico leave Madrid to spend the summer at the seaside village of Cadaques, at the home of Dalí's family.
Federico finds himself accepted into the Dalí family as he and Salvador grow closer until, one night, their friendship becomes romantic. Even as they draw closer, their relationship appears doomed. Luis visits them at university and becomes more suspicious and appalled by their apparent closeness.
Salvador finds Federico's obsession with him more than he is prepared to handle and moves to Paris. Consumed by the high society and decadence, Salvador is soon entangled with Gala (Arly Jover), a married woman with a penchant for celebrities. When Federico visits, he finds his friend is a changed man, in his life and his politics.
- Robert Pattinson as Salvador Dalí
- Javier Beltrán as Federico García Lorca
- Matthew McNulty as Luis Buñuel
- Marina Gatell as Magdalena
- Bruno Oro as Paco
- Esther Nubiola as Adela
- Marc Pujol as Carlos
- Arly Jover as Gala Dalí
- Simón Andreu as Fernando del Valle
- Vicky Peña as Magdalena’s aunt
- Rubén Arroyo as Rafael
- Diana Gómez as Ana María
- Pep Sais as Art Teacher
- Joan Picó as Young Officer
- Ferran Audí as Guard 1
- Adría Allué as Guard 2
- Ferran Lahoz as Señor Milagro
- Cristian Rodrigo as Young Journalist
- Sue Flack as Madam
- Adrian Devant as Puppeteer
- Ramón Enrich as Professor
- Xavi Siles as Man 1
- Philippa Goslett and Hannah Rũtzou as Federico's Sisters
- Paco Alonso as Gypsy Singer
The title is taken from Salvador Dalí's 1927–28 painting Cenicitas (Little Ashes). It was originally called The Birth of Venus, before being changed to Sterile Efforts and then finally Cenicitas. It was first displayed on 20 March 1929 in a Madrid exhibition. It was again displayed in his first solo exhibition in Paris in June 1931. The painting is currently in the Dalí collection of the Queen Sofia Art Centre in Madrid.
While it is widely acknowledged that Lorca was infatuated with Dalí, for years the artist denied entering into a relationship with Lorca.
He was homosexual, as everyone knows, and madly in love with me. He tried to screw me twice .... I was extremely annoyed, because I wasn't homosexual, and I wasn't interested in giving in. Besides, it hurts. So nothing came of it. But I felt awfully flattered vis-à-vis the prestige. Deep down I felt that he was a great poet and that I owe him a tiny bit of the Divine Dalí's asshole. He eventually bagged a young girl, and she replaced me in the sacrifice. Failing to get me to put my ass at his disposal, he swore that the girl’s sacrifice was matched by his own: it was the first time he had ever slept with a woman.
Writer Philippa Goslett supposes:
It's clear something happened, no question… When you look at the letters it's clear something more was going on there... It began as a friendship, became more intimate and moved to a physical level but Dalí found it difficult and couldn't carry on. He said they tried to have sex but it hurt, so they couldn't consummate the relationship.
Biographer of both Dalí and Lorca, Ian Gibson, stated:
It depends how you define an affair, he [Dalí] was terrified of being touched by anyone, so I don't think Lorca got far.
In the repressed Spain of the mid 1930s, Lorca's homosexuality seems to have provided an additional thrill to his murderers. Lorca's biographer Leslie Stainton has suggested that the killers made remarks about his sexual orientation, and that it played a significant role in his death.
Little Ashes premiered at the 16th annual Raindance Film Festival in London. The sold-out screening was scheduled on 7 October 2008 at 19:00. A second screening was also added for the 8th of October at 14:30. Little Ashes premiered in the U.S. at the Miami Gay & Lesbian film festival. On May 8, 2009 it premiered in only 11 US locations.
The film currently holds a "Rotten" rating of 24% based on 68 reviews on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus states, "It has a beautiful cast, but Little Ashes suffers from an uneven tone and a surplus of unintentionally silly moments."
Greg Quill of the Toronto Star wrote, "Even cinematographer Adam Suschitzky's richly textured and resonantly toned cityscapes and rural scenes can't make up for a flawed script and weak performances in what might have been a powerful historical drama."
Chris Hewitt of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reviewed that: "The movie, with its badly painted backdrops, its stiff acting and its complete lack of dramatic momentum, is embarrassing to watch."
However, Steven Rea of Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film a positive review by stating that "A bravely earnest and gauzy bit of biography."
- According to Ian Gibson, Lorca was "utterly at home with his hosts and by now hopelessly involved with Salvador"
- Colour reproduction of painting Cenicitas
- The Shameful life of Salvador Dalí p 162
- Salvador Dalí An Illustrated Life, Tate Publishing
- Salvador Dalí An Illustrated Life, Tate Publishing
- Smith, David (October 28, 2007). "Were Spain's two artistic legends secret gay lovers?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- Bosquet, Alain, Conversations with Dalí, 1969. p. 19–20. (PDF format)
- "Little Ashes (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards - English Language Nominees". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "Were Spain's Two Artistic Legends Secret Gay Lovers?", The Guardian (28 October 2007)
- Aria film synopsis
- George E. Haggerty, Gay Histories and Cultures ISBN 0-8153-1880-4
- Ian Gibson, The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí ISBN 0-393-04624-9
- Salvador Dalí: An Illustrated Life, Tate Publishing ISBN 978-1-85437-759-3
- Little Ashes at the Internet Movie Database
- Little Ashes at Box Office Mojo
- Little Ashes at Rotten Tomatoes
- Knight at the Movies interview with Javier Beltran