Life in Shadows

An interesting early example of reflexive, film-drenched cinema, this 1948 Spanish feature by Lorenzo Llobet Garcia, the only one ever made by its director, shows the life of a man dominated by film — beginning with his parents at a carnival exposition of Lumiere films, continuing through his activities as a film buff, critic, and newsreel cameraman, and concluding as he embarks on his own autobiographical first feature. Along the way, we are treated to chunks of Spanish history as well as personal film history: the hero falls in love with his future wife at a screening of Romeo and Juliet and years later, after her death, experiences a trauma at a screening of Rebecca. The only limitation of this single-minded chronicle is that it lacks both the obsessiveness of its subject and the ironic distance that might make it more meaningful. But as an outline of a sensibility that would come into its own with the French New Wave a decade later, Vida en sombras remains an intriguing and isolated document. Spanish film critic Roman Gubern will appear after the screening. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, April 10, 4:00, 443-3737)

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