|Directed by||Luis Buñuel|
|Produced by||Óscar Dancigers|
|Written by||Luis Alcoriza
|Music by||Rodolfo Halffter
|Editing by||Carlos Savage|
|Distributed by||Koch-Lorber Films|
|Release dates||December 9, 1950 (Mexico)|
|Running time||80 min.|
Óscar Dancigers, the producer, asked Buñuel to direct this film after the success of the 1949 film El Gran Calavera. Buñuel already had a script ready titled ¡Mi huerfanito jefe! about a boy who sells lottery tickets. However, Dancigers had in mind a more realistic and serious depiction of children in poverty in Mexico City.
After conducting some research, Jesús Camacho and Buñuel came up with a script that Dancigers was pleased with. The film can be seen in the tradition of social realism, although it also contains elements of surrealism present in much of Buñuel's work.
- Stella Inda as Pedro's Mother
- Miguel Inclán as Don Carmelo, the blind man
- Alfonso Mejía as Pedro
- Roberto Cobo as "El Jaibo"
- Alma Delia Fuentes as Meche
- Francisco Jambrina as the principal of the rural school
- Jesús Navarro as Julián's father
- Efraín Arauz as "Cacarizo"
- Jorge Pérez as "Pelón"
- Javier Amézcua as Julián
- Mário Ramírez as "Ojitos" ("Little Eyes"), the lost boy
- Ernesto Alonso as Narrator (uncredited)
The film is about a group of destitute children and their misfortunes in a Mexico City slum. El Jaibo escapes juvenile jail and reunites with the street gang that he leads. El Jaibo's gang attempts to rob a blind street musician. They fail at first, but later track him down, beat him, and destroy his instruments.
With the help of Pedro, El Jaibo tracks down Julián, the youngster who supposedly sent him to jail. El Jaibo puts his arm in a fake sling and hides a rock in it. El Jaibo confronts Julián, who denies that he reported him to the police. Julián refuses to fight El Jaibo because it wouldn't be a fair fight with El Jaibo's arm broken. As Julián starts to walk away, El Jaibo hits him in the head with the rock. He then beats Julián to death and takes his money. El Jaibo warns Pedro not to report the crime, and since he shares Julián's money with Pedro, Pedro is an accomplice to the murder.
Pedro's mother resents her son's behavior, and shows signs that she doesn't even love him or care for him as a son. Pedro is extremely saddened by this and vows to start behaving better. He finds work as apprentice to a blacksmith. One day, El Jaibo comes to talk with him about their secret and, unbeknownst to Pedro, steals an expensive knife from the blacksmith's table. Pedro is accused of the crime and sent to a juvenile rehabilitation program, the "farm school," where he misbehaves at first, but is won over by the kindness of the principal. In a turn of events that seems to owe a great deal to Oliver Twist, when Pedro is sent on an errand by the principal with a 50 pesos bill, he encounters El Jaibo, who steals it. Pedro then tracks down El Jaibo and fights him. The fight ends in a stalemate, but Pedro announces to the crowd that it was El Jaibo who killed Julián. El Jaibo flees, but the blind man has heard the accusation and tells the police.
Pedro tracks El Jaibo down once again, and El Jaibo kills Pedro. While fleeing, El Jaibo runs into the police. As El Jaibo tries to run away, the police shoot and kill him. Meche and her grandfather find Pedro's body. Not wanting to attract the police, they dump his body down a garbage-covered cliff. On their way, they pass Pedro's mother, who, though once unconcerned with her disobedient child, is now searching for him.
In the year 2002, it was announced that an alternate ending for Los Olvidados (labeled "the happy ending") was discovered at the Film Warehouse of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and it would be restored digitally in order to show it to the public. On July 8, 2005, it was re-screened with the alternate ending on a few selected venues and included in subsequent DVD releases .
At the International Cinematographic Festival in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, on February 3, 2011, the last surviving member of the cast, Alfonso Mejia (Pedro), introduced the alternative ending to the film.
According to Mejia, Buñuel was "pressured by the censorship in México, and urged to film an alternative ending, a conventional ending, to maintain the image of a progressive Mexico, where no one was poor or illiterate" (you can view the interview here).
The alternative ending begins with El Jaibo and Pedro fighting on an abandoned warehouse. Pedro pushes El Jaibo from the roof, where he falls to his death. Pedro frisks the body for the money El Jaibo stole from him (in contrast to the original ending, where Pedro is murdered by El Jaibo). Pedro returns to the farm school with the money that the principal entrusted to him.
Thematically, Los Olvidados is similar to Buñuel's earlier Spanish film, Las Hurdes. Both films deal with the never-ending cycle of poverty and despair. Los Olvidados, is especially interesting because although “Buñuel employed … elements of Italian neorealism,” a concurrent movement across the Atlantic Ocean marked by “outdoor locations, nonprofessional actors, low budget productions, and a focus on the working classes,” Los Olvidados is not a neorealist film (Fernandez, 42). “Neorealist reality is incomplete, conventional, and above all rational,” Buñuel wrote in a 1953 essay titled "Poetry and Cinema." “The poetry, the mystery, all that completes and enlarges tangible reality is utterly lacking.” (Sklar, 324) Los Olvidados contains such surrealistic shots as when “a boy throws an egg at the camera lens, where it shatters and drips” or a scene in which a boy has a dream in slow-motion (Sklar, 324). The surrealist dream sequence was actually shot in reverse and switched in post-production.
Los Olvidados is widely acclaimed as a masterpiece. It currently holds a 94% score on the website Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews. It was inscribed on UNESCO's "Memory of the World" Register in 2003 in recognition of its historical significance.
- "The Young and the Damned". IMDb. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
- "Festival de Cannes: Reckless". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- La Jornada (8 July 2005). "Restrenan en pantalla grande Los olvidados, con final inédito". Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- ABC.es (12 January 2004). "Los Olvidados vuelve a la vida en DVD, con final alternativo". Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Vanguardia (3 February 2011). "Un 'olvidado' en Saltillo". Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- "Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Fernandez, Walter, Jr. “A Directory of Dynamic Directors: Luis Buñuel.” Cinema Editor Fourth Quarter 2005: 42-43.
- Sklar, Robert. Film: An International History of the Medium. [London]: Thames and Hudson, [c. 1990].
- Los olvidados at the cinema of Mexico site of the ITESM (Spanish)
- Los Olvidados at the Internet Movie Database
- Los olvidados at IberoAmericanMovies.com