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Film / La venganza

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La venganza is a 1958 film from Spain, directed by Juan Antonio Bardem.

The rather vague time frame is whenever mechanical reapers first began to catch on in Spain. Juan Diaz has just come back to his village in the hills of Andalusia after serving a ten-year prison sentence for murder. He was imprisoned for killing one Salvador, a member of the (unnamed) rich family in town that lives in the "Old House" on the hill. No one is sure who pinned Salvador's murder on Juan, but Salvador's brother Luis is quite nervous about Juan's return to the village.

Meanwhile, it's reaping season, and Luis is organizing a group of villagers to go around the country looking for wheat fields that need reaping. Juan and his sister Andrea go along, with Andrea urging Juan to take revenge against Luis and kill him as soon as Juan is sure that Luis was the man who framed him. However, there's one thing Andrea didn't anticipate: falling in love with Luis.

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Tropes:

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Luis, who has been flirting with Andrea the whole time, finally admits that he loves her in the same scene where he admits that he kept the secret about his brother Salvador's death.
  • Attempted Rape: A shopkeeper named Bermejo tries to rape Andrea. She fights him off and escapes, and then the men of the group hang Bermejo from the ceiling by his ankles.
  • Author Tract: One scene has a traveling writer meet the group, where he gives them a little spiel about how all Spaniards need to work together for the common good. It has nothing to do with the rest of the story and the writer is never seen again after that one scene. Not coincidentally, writer/director Juan Antonio Bardem was a communist.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Tons of this between Luis and Andrea, given how he hates the Diaz family and she hates him and has made her brother swear to murder him. But the tension is obvious in scenes like the one where he catches her after she's bathed in the river, her clothes still sticking to her body. Unsurprisingly they fall in love.
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  • The Cameo: Fernando Rey, a big star in Spanish cinema, appears briefly as the scribe who takes a letter for illiterate Santiago.
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: A rooster crowing the dawn as Juan returns to his home village emphasizes how rural and remote that village is.
  • Conversation Cut: After Andrea makes her brother swear vengeance, she says "Now you will pay for this, Twisted Luis!" Cut to Luis saying "Pay?", back in the Old House, where he and his mother are talking about how Juan may try to make Luis pay.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: For some reason, Luis is called "Twisted" (torcido). He doesn't like it.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The opening credits play over an unbroken four-minute shot showing the rolling hills of Andalusia.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The film ends with the whole group back on the road, walking home, after Luis and Juan have made peace.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Santiago delivers a short but stinging one after the rest of the men ride up and interrupt the duel between Luis and Juan. He says that they're both idiots and that if they insist on their fight to the death, he and the other men will kill whoever wins.
    Santiago: You are a pair of losers!
  • The Reveal: Luis didn't kill his brother Salvador. His other brother, Marcial, now also dead, did. Luis kept the secret out of family loyalty but has been ashamed about it for years.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Andrea's shirt clings to her after she comes out of the river where she was dating. Luis is turned on.
  • Skinnydipping: Andrea goes bathing in a stream. It's at night and shot from a distance, so per 1958 Spanish censorship nothing much can be seen, but Luis sees her and is turned on.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe. Mechanical reapers are becoming popular in Spain and making it harder for peasants to get work reaping wheat. In one scene the group reaches a wheat field where they thought they'd get work only to find a mechanical reaper chugging away. Santiago freaks out, charges at the reaper with his scythe in hand, and gets sliced up. He recovers.
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