Los Olvidados

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Los olvidados
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Produced by Óscar Dancigers
Written by Luis Alcoriza
Luis Buñuel
Starring Alfonso Mejía
Stella Inda
Miguel Inclán
Roberto Cobo
Music by Rodolfo Halffter
Gustavo Pittaluga
Cinematography Gabriel Figueroa
Edited by Carlos Savage
Distributed by Koch-Lorber Films
Release date
December 9, 1950 (Mexico)
Running time
80 min.
Language Spanish

Los Olvidados (pronounced [los olbiˈðaðos], Spanish for "The Forgotten Ones"), known in the U.S. as The Young and the Damned, is a 1950 Mexican film directed by Luis Buñuel.[1]

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.

Los Olvidados was widely criticized upon its initial release, but earned the Best Director award at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival.[2] It is now considered a masterpiece of Latin American cinema.


  • 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 and kills two chickens. The principal gives Pedro a test. He hands Pedro a 50 pesos bill to run errands with as a test of trust. If Pedro returns from the errands, he can be trusted. If he doesn't, the principal is out 50 pesos. Pedro accepts the offer and leaves with the intention to complete the errands. As soon as he leaves, he encounters El Jaibo, who steals the money. Upset that his attempt to be good was foiled again, Pedro 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 to murder him. 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 in their shed. 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.

Alternate ending[edit]

In 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 in a few selected venues and included in subsequent DVD releases.[3] [4]

At the International Cinematographic Festival in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, on February 3, 2011, the last surviving member of the cast, Alfonso Mejía (Pedro), introduced the alternative ending to the film.[5]

According to Mejía, Buñuel was "pressured by the censorship in Mexico, 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 on YouTube).

The alternative ending begins with El Jaibo and Pedro fighting in 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. Buñuel does not romanticize the characters, and even the abused blind man is revealed to have cruel habits of preying on children and selling fake elixirs.



Los Olvidados was largely disparaged by the Mexican press upon its release.[6] Juan Carlos Ibáñez and Manuel Palacio write, "The film was so harsh and innovative, so critical and daring in its statements that during its first screenings, spectators openly aired their indignation towards the features of Mexican identity presented by Buñuel."[7] The work was also criticized as overly bleak.[8]


Many critics have since proclaimed Los Olvidados a masterpiece. It currently holds a 94% score on the website Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 reviews.[9] It was inscribed on UNESCO's "Memory of the World" Register in 2003 in recognition of its historical significance.[citation needed]

The work placed 110th in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll of the greatest films ever made.[10]


Los Olvidados has been cited as an influence on films such as Amores perros (2000), Pixote (1980), and City of God (2002).[11]


  1. ^ "The Young and the Damned". IMDb. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Reckless". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
  3. ^ La Jornada (8 July 2005). "Restrenan en pantalla grande Los olvidados, con final inédito". Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  4. ^ ABC.es (12 January 2004). "Los Olvidados vuelve a la vida en DVD, con final alternativo". Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  5. ^ Vanguardia (3 February 2011). "Un 'olvidado' en Saltillo". Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  6. ^ Steffen, James. "Los Olvidados". Turner Classic Movies, Inc. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Elena, Alberto; López, Marina Díaz, eds. (2012). The Cinema of Latin America. Columbia University Press. p. 53. ISBN 0231501943.
  8. ^ Parkinson, David (June 14, 2006). "Los Olvidados Review". Empire. Retrieved April 16, 2017. The Mexican critics [...] denounced Buñuel for failing to alleviate the misery with some optimistic fantasy [...]
  9. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Votes for Los Olvidados (1950)". British Film Institute. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  11. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (February 15, 2007). "Los Olvidados". The Guardian. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  • 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].

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