PFS Film Review
Little Ashes


 

LIttle AshesDirected by Paul Morrison, the slowmoving triple biopic Little Ashes begins in 1922, when Salvador Dalí y Domènech (played by Robert Pattinson) and Federico García Lorca (played by Javier Beltrán) are students so infatuated with each other’s genius that they fall in love. The film ends in 1936 with García Lorca’s execution by the fascist forces of Francisco Franco and the sorrow of Dalí on learning the news in Paris. Along with fellow student and filmmaker Luis Buñuel (played by Matthew McNulty), the three were members of the Generation of ’27 that advanced conservative Spain into avant-garde directions. Even before 1922, García Lorca was rumored to be gay, but his advances with Dalí are successful despite homophobic hostility from Buñuel. That year Dalí works on the stage sets for García Lorca’s second play Mariana Pineda, which is eminently successful, and García Lorca gives the name “Little Ashes” to a new painting by Dalí (meaning: everything in the end becomes ashes). Buñuel, portrayed as a latent homosexual who once goes to a cruising spot to beat up someone who wanted to service him, moves to Paris in 1925 and the following year successfully persuades Dalí to join him, meet Picasso, and achieve world fame. After a short time, Dalí returns to Madrid to finish his art degree but, after tonguelashing his examiners at the Fine Arts School for their incompetence, is expelled. In 1929, Buñuel and Dalí collaborate in the 16-minute surreal film Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog), which García Lorca interprets as an attack on him, whereupon the two former lovers become estranged. García Lorca relies on female “fag hag” companionship, while Dalí marries and so allows fame and fortune to go to his head that he alienates Buñuel, who returns to Madrid in 1931 to befriend García Lorca (who has recently returned from a short stay in America). Next, politics divides the principals in the 1930s. While Dalí is fascinated with Nazi rhetoric, resulting in his expulsion from the surrealist group, Buñuel and García Lorca side with democratic forces. (García Lorca’s execution is alongside his socialist brother-in-law.) The later lives of Buñuel and Dalí perhaps merit another film, but most filmvewers will find García Lorca the most admirable of the three. A title at the end claims that the film reveals hitherto unappreciated details of the gay relationship. MH

I want to comment on this film