Sunday, March 4, 2018
Madrid. Ana (9) is a girl obsessed with death. Unlike her two sisters, Irene and Maite, she is an unhappy and pessimistic child. Their mother died from an illness, while their father died from a heart attack while having sex with another woman. The three girls are thus now raised by their mother's aunt, Paulina, and maid Rosa. Ana observes the negative things in the world around her, from her grandmother bound to a wheelchair up to the additional death of her hamster. Ana still prevails and returns back to school.
"I can't understand people who say that childhood is the happiest time of one's life. It certainly wasn't for me. Maybe that's why I don't believe in a childlike paradise or that children are innocent or good by nature. I remember my childhood as an interminably long and sad time filled with fear, fear of the unknown." This quote of the (grown) up heroine Ana perfectly sumps up the theme of this unusual "anti-kids film" by director and screenwriter Carlos Saura, who decided to make a movie about kids for grown ups, breaking the often presented cliche that childhood is idealistic, instead showing how life's problems can befall even the young ones, here embodied in the 9-year old heroine who is obsessed with death. Saura presents this unusual clash of innocence and harsh reality with very simple means (Ana walking up to the bed of her dead father and just looking at him; Ana burying her dead hamster in a box) with the only metafilm jump being the camera pan from a 9-year old Ana to a grown up Ana (Geraldine Chaplin) in the same scene, who looks directly into the camera and confesses her "fed up" feelings to the viewers. A quiet, intimate, rather measured little film, emotional and sad, a sober deconstruction of cultural myths of a happy life, yet with huge sympathy for the unlikely "Goth girl" who already gets some things about life right from the start. A very good, though still a little bit overrated film, "Raise Ravens" suffers from a rather vague meandering of the storyline, and ends on a incomplete note, without a clear, satisfying conclusion, yet still says a few pearls of wisdom while presenting its actual theme of a clash between what people would want to be true and what really is true in the dark reality in this "existentialist kids film".