Friday, May 17, 2013
I recently stumbled on this 1947 film version of one of my favorite novels, Nada, by Carmen Laforet. It is not a very good screen adaptation. The characters have little depth compared to those drawn in the novel, and there is not the sense of menace that comes across so forcefully in Laforet's account of the life of the impoverished and desperate family in post-war Barcelona. Conchita Montes, who plays Andrea, is too old and too self-assured to play the part of the teen heroine. It may be that Montes was seen as appropriate for the part because it turns out she bore quite a resemblance to the author, Laforet, who had become instantly famous with the publication of her first novel. There are also the facts that Montes was the girlfriend of the Director, Edgar Neville, and she had helped him to narrowly avoid a firing squad at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. In spite of the weaknesses, I still enjoyed watching the film, and the Spanish dialogue is beautifully spoken.
I poked around in the Web a bit after watching the film and found that an English translation appeared in 2007 and that it was reviewed at the NY Times. The reviewer naively assumes that Laforet was the only notable Spanish post-war woman writer, but does go on to give a pretty good over-view of the plot and the book's important literary qualities.
An even better English summary of the book and the life of the author is contained in the introduction to the1958 student edition from the Oxford University Press. It can be viewed at no cost on the book's Amazon.com page.