The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955)

aka Ensayo de un crimen
Article 3753 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-11-11
Posting Date: 11-23-2011
Directed by Luis Bunuel
Featuring Miroslava, Ernesto Alonso, Rita Macedo
Country: Mexico
What it is: Serial killer movie… with a twist

As a child, Archibaldo was given a music box, and was told that it had once been in the possession of a king who could you use it to will people’s deaths. When he tries it on his governess, she dies immediately from a bullet shot from a revolutionary. Years later, he recovers the music box… but does it still give him that power…?

Serial killers with sexual hang-ups are a dime a dozen nowadays, but they certainly weren’t back in the fifties, but then, this movie is fairly ambiguous about whether the title character (who has come to associate eroticism with death) is actually a serial killer or only so in his imagination and due to coincidence. It’s certainly an interesting and complex movie, and it’s played more as a light drama than a horror movie; in this respect, it reminded me a bit of Chaplin’s MONSIEUR VERDOUX. It was directed by the surrealist Luis Bunuel, and is supposed to rank with his best work, but to be honest, I think I prefer the other movies of his I’ve covered for this series, namely, THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL and THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, both of which are much more surreal and strange; this one seems relatively normal.

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