Director: Luis Buñuel
Year Released: 1950
Relentlessly unpleasant portrait of slum life in Mexico, where the young toughs beat up the blind, the paralyzed, rob each other and their parents and somehow evade the police. A portion of the blame is placed on their elders, who the film implicates in not treating their children with love and affection, although the kids themselves are bad news and easily swayed towards crime by their charismatic peers. What I find fascinating is how the older generation in this picture claims that things were different in 'their day' the way our parents claim it was better in theirs, and I can only fear that when I get older, I will tell my kids and grandchildren that it was better back when I was growing up (it goes back to what Sontag said about the past being 'safe'). Despite the depressing nature of seeing lives ruined at such an early age, Buñuel's film sticks close to the truth, which is the film's main strength. It could also be considered the 'Granddaddy' of the child-slum film, paving the way for Pixote and City of God.