Little Ashes

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Little Ashes
LittleAshes poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Morrison
Produced byCarlo Dusi
Jonny Persey
Jaume Vilalta
Written byPhilippa Goslett
StarringRobert Pattinson
Javier Beltrán
Matthew McNulty
Marina Gatell
Music byMiguel Mera
CinematographyAdam Suschitzky
Edited byRachel Tunnard
Samantha Patterine
Production
  company
PT Films
Aria Films
Factotum Barcelona S.L.
Met Film Production
Met Film
Distributed bySOROlla Films (Spain)
Kaleidoscope Entertainment (UK)
Release date(s)
  • 7 October 2008 (2008-10-07) (Raindance Film Festival)
  • 8 May 2009 (2009-05-08)
Running time107 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Spain
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2.9 million
Box office$452,558[1]
 
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Little Ashes
LittleAshes poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Morrison
Produced byCarlo Dusi
Jonny Persey
Jaume Vilalta
Written byPhilippa Goslett
StarringRobert Pattinson
Javier Beltrán
Matthew McNulty
Marina Gatell
Music byMiguel Mera
CinematographyAdam Suschitzky
Edited byRachel Tunnard
Samantha Patterine
Production
  company
PT Films
Aria Films
Factotum Barcelona S.L.
Met Film Production
Met Film
Distributed bySOROlla Films (Spain)
Kaleidoscope Entertainment (UK)
Release date(s)
  • 7 October 2008 (2008-10-07) (Raindance Film Festival)
  • 8 May 2009 (2009-05-08)
Running time107 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Spain
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2.9 million
Box office$452,558[1]

Little Ashes is a 2008 Spanish-British drama film set against the backdrop of Spain during the 20s and 30s, as three of the era's most creative young talents meet at university and set off on a course to change their world. Luis Buñuel watches helplessly as the friendship between Salvador Dalí and the poet Federico García Lorca develops into a love affair.

The detail of the relationship between artist Salvador Dalí and poet Federico García Lorca has long been the subject of speculation and debate amongst historians and biographers. In Little Ashes, Dalí and Lorca's feelings are shown deepening into a love affair that the sexually-repressed painter tries and fails to consummate.

Between 1925 and 1936, during the course of their friendship, Dalí and Lorca exchanged numerous letters. The original manuscripts of Dalí's letters to Lorca are held by the Fundación Federico García Lorca in Madrid and those of Lorca to Dalí are held by Fundacion Gala-Salvador Dalí in Pubol, as well as in private collections.

Plot[edit]

In 1922, 18-year-old Salvador Dalí (Robert Pattinson) arrives at university in Madrid. The Residencia de Estudiantes, or Students' Residence, is a modern environment which encourages Spain's brightest young minds. Salvador, who is determined to become a great artist, soon catches the attention of the Resi's social elite — poet Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltrán) and aspiring filmmaker Luis Buñuel (Matthew McNulty). Together they form the nucleus of the most modern group in Madrid.

Their private lives become increasingly complex as Federico ignores the advances of devoted friend and writer Magdalena (Marina Gatell), and Salvador himself feels the pull of Federico's magnetism. Luis, becoming increasingly isolated by the duo's closeness, decides to move to Paris to fulfil his own artistic ambitions. Meanwhile, Salvador and Federico leave Madrid to spend the summer at the seaside village of Cadaques, at the home of Dalí's family.

Federico finds himself accepted[2] into the Dalí family as he and Salvador grow closer until, one night, their friendship becomes romantic.[3] Even as they draw closer, their relationship appears doomed. Luis visits them at university and becomes more suspicious and appalled by their apparent closeness.

Salvador finds Federico's obsession with him more than he is prepared to handle and moves to Paris. Consumed by the high society and decadence, Salvador is soon entangled with Gala (Arly Jover), a married woman with a penchant for celebrities. When Federico visits, he finds his friend is a changed man, in his life and his politics.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Title[edit]

The title is taken from Salvador Dalí's 1927–28 painting Cenicitas (Little Ashes).[4][5] It was originally called The Birth of Venus, before being changed to Sterile Efforts and then finally Cenicitas.[6] It was first displayed on 20 March 1929 in a Madrid exhibition.[7] It was again displayed in his first solo exhibition in Paris in June 1931.[8] The painting is currently in the Dalí collection of the Queen Sofia Art Centre in Madrid.[6]

Background[edit]

While it is widely acknowledged that Lorca was infatuated with Dalí, for years the artist denied entering into a relationship with Lorca.

Dalí stated:

He was homosexual, as everyone knows, and madly in love with me. He tried to screw me twice .... I was extremely annoyed, because I wasn't homosexual, and I wasn't interested in giving in. Besides, it hurts. So nothing came of it. But I felt awfully flattered vis-à-vis the prestige. Deep down I felt that he was a great poet and that I owe him a tiny bit of the Divine Dalí's asshole. He eventually bagged a young girl, and she replaced me in the sacrifice. Failing to get me to put my ass at his disposal, he swore that the girl’s sacrifice was matched by his own: it was the first time he had ever slept with a woman.[9][10]

Writer Philippa Goslett supposes:

It's clear something happened, no question… When you look at the letters it's clear something more was going on there... It began as a friendship, became more intimate and moved to a physical level but Dalí found it difficult and couldn't carry on. He said they tried to have sex but it hurt, so they couldn't consummate the relationship.[9]

Biographer of both Dalí and Lorca, Ian Gibson, stated:

It depends how you define an affair, he [Dalí] was terrified of being touched by anyone, so I don't think Lorca got far.[9]

In the repressed Spain of the mid 1930s, Lorca's homosexuality seems to have provided an additional thrill to his murderers. Lorca's biographer Leslie Stainton has suggested that the killers made remarks about his sexual orientation, and that it played a significant role in his death.

Release[edit]

Film festivals[edit]

Little Ashes premiered at the 16th annual Raindance Film Festival in London. The sold-out screening was scheduled on 7 October 2008 at 19:00. A second screening was also added for the 8th of October at 14:30.[11] Little Ashes premiered in the U.S. at the Miami Gay & Lesbian film festival. On May 8, 2009 it premiered in only 11 US locations.

DVD[edit]

The UK DVD was released on 13 July 2009 and is rated 15.[12] The US DVD was released on January 26, 2010.

Critical Reception[edit]

The film currently holds a "Rotten" rating of 24% based on 68 reviews on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus states, "It has a beautiful cast, but Little Ashes suffers from an uneven tone and a surplus of unintentionally silly moments."[13]

Ty Burr of the The Boston Globe panned the film and wrote: "What's intended to be a daring look at repressed sexuality, three-ways and all, has the dramatic heft of a true-love comic book."[14]

Greg Quill of the Toronto Star wrote, "Even cinematographer Adam Suschitzky's richly textured and resonantly toned cityscapes and rural scenes can't make up for a flawed script and weak performances in what might have been a powerful historical drama."[15]

Chris Hewitt of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reviewed that: "The movie, with its badly painted backdrops, its stiff acting and its complete lack of dramatic momentum, is embarrassing to watch."[16]

However, Steven Rea of Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film a positive review by stating that "A bravely earnest and gauzy bit of biography."[17]

Awards[edit]

Little Ashes won the GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding Film - Limited Release" during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.[18]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]