The Miracle of Marcelino (1955)

THE MIRACLE OF MARCELINO (1955)
aka Marcelino pan y vino
Article 2605 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-23-2008
Posting Date: 9-30-200
Directed by Ladislao Vajda
Featuring Rafael Rivelles, Antonio Vico, Juan Calvo
Country: Spain/Italy

A baby is left at the gates of a monastery. The monks attempt to find a home for it, but end up deciding to raise the boy themselves. However, in the process, they end up offending a high-ranking official in the local town, who resolves to have the monks evicted. Several years later, the boy inadvertently causes chaos at the town fair, and the official (now the mayor) uses the event to force the eviction. With only a month left in their home, the monks need a miracle. And it is then the boy discovers a crucifix in an upstairs room in the monastery…

As far as I can tell, this movie was not based on a true story, but on a novel by Jose Maria Sanchez Silva. This is a bit of a relief to me, as I can feel free to call it a fantasy without offending anyone, and I can avoid tiresome discussions about whether the events really happened. All in all, I found the movie quite moving, though at times it’s a little odd (it’s hard to understand why the monks would choose to frighten the boy away from a crucifix) and definitely unsettling at points (there’s a definite streak of darkness when you consider just what the boy is asking for when he makes his final request). The movie alternates comedy and drama for the first half of the movie; the miracle doesn’t start happening until the final third of the movie. It’s nice to see a movie like this that doesn’t bother dwelling on the “proof” of the miracle, which is the usual direction of stories of this kind; instead, it just lets the miracle happen, and it really manages to capture the sense of what it might be like to witness a miracle, an event that you experience vicariously through the character of Brother Cookie (the boy himself takes it all for granted). If anything, the movie demonstrates that a story doesn’t have to be true to be inspirationally moving. The main downside to the movie is that the dubbing is not quite as good as it could have been.

 

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