Cria Cuervos

16/03/2017 19:45.
Cert 12

As the rule of fascist dictator Franco came to an end, Saura created this fantasy/reality film, to which the later Pan’s Labyrinth has been compared. Following the death of their beloved mother (Geraldine Chaplin) Ana and her sisters cannot accept the new relationship their father Anselmo begins. He dies of poisoning and the children are racked with repressive guilt with political echoes. “Cría Cuervos literally translates as Raise Ravens, from a Spanish proverb that reads, ‘Raise ravens and they’ll take your eyes’, a fitting allegory for a generation’s uprising against a fascist dictatorship.” Patrick Gamble, CineVue. (Cert 12)
Dir: Carlos Saura 110mins Spain 1976

Programme Notes

This drama, written and directed by Carlos Saura (Tango,1998), follows three orphans, Irene, Ana and Maite, living with their stern, frosty Aunt Paulina and mentally fading grandmother. Ana, played as a child by Ana Torrent and as an adult by Geraldine Chaplin (Talk to Her, 2002; Doctor Zhivago, 1965; The Impossible, 2012), develops an obsession with death having witnessed both her parents die. The film follows the orphans as they grow up, overcoming everything life throws at them. The film’s title originates from an old proverb “Raise ravens and they’ll pluck out your eyes” (the English equivalent of which is “You reap what you sow”) and its dramatic arc mixes the personal and political in a portrait of the legacy of Franco’s fascism and its effects on a middle class family. It is interesting to note that, in Chaplin’s portrayal of Ana as an adult, her voice is dubbed by Julieta Serrano (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,1988) although as Saura’s wife she was a fluent Spanish speaker. Cría Cuervos was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 1978 Golden Globe awards but lost out to A Special Day (Italy,1977). However, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1976, it was awarded the prestigious Jury Prize.

Acknowledgements: Anon,
Gary Tooze,

“The film follows the metaphor of life under fascism as a kind of stunted childhood seen in several other Spanish movies of that period, yet handles it with a refreshing sensitivity and grace”
Richard Peña, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

“Cria Cuervos is a true masterpiece of naturalistic fantasy which deserves to be more widely known”
David Brook, Blueprint

María/Ana as an adult – Geraldine Chaplin
Aunt Paulina – Mónica Randall
Ana as a child – Ana Torrent
Irene –  Conchita Perez
Maite – Mayte Sanchez
Anselmo – Hector Alterio
Director – Carlos Saura
Producer – Elías Querejeta
Screenplay – Carlos Saura
Cinematography – Teo Escamilla
Original Music – Federico Mompou, José Luis Perales


  • Super!
  • What brilliant actors
  • Outstanding child acting
  • Wonderful and touching narration via psychic innocence and big dark eyes. Great acting from the little girls
  • From a decade that gave us plenty of cinematic [illegible], this film is timeless – with its universal themes of coping with death and change, its seamless transitions between different time periods and its juxtaposition of good humoured childhood antics with intense family drama
  • Slipped effortlessly between distressing and humorous scenes. The young lead was excellent
  • Tremendous tension – blurred boundaries between dreams and nightmares
  • Moving – lived up to its title. Some of the flashbacks confusing
  • Strange and disturbing tale but wonderful close-ups of the faces
  • Interesting ….
  • Liked Grandma! Tune equivalent (to) earworm! Too many sad memories surfaced with the scenes of the mother’s illness
  • Life didn’t seem to be throwing that much at them!
  • Failed to engage at any level – totally pointless
  • I hope no guinea pigs were actually poisoned in the production of this film
  • Kids – who’d have them?


A:14, B:11, C:10, D:6, E:0 to give 70% from 98% of those present.