Rebellions for freedom have always been the war of the young, which isn’t to say it’s a consistently well-fought campaign. The four youth of the 1981 Spanish movie Deprisa Deprisa, are hedonistically desperate to live up to what they believe is their birthright to freedom and lack of responsibility. Their youthful nihilism and self-obsession blinds them to the dangers of the tragic path they are on, and the film calmly, artfully, and insightfully follows their downward spiral.
This is well-covered ground: Clockwork Orange, If…, and Elevator to the Gallows all focused in on hyper-violence of angry youth in the 60s and 70s (Ok, Elevator is 1958), but Deprisa Deprisa, though late in arriving to the international scene, is coming just in time for Spain. Franco had been dead since 1975, and the foyr youth in director Carlos Saura’s film are amongst the first to have come of age post-Franco. They are now allowed to taste freedom in Spain and leap for it wildly.
The story follows Meca and Pablo, Pablo’s girlfriend Angela, and Sebas as they graduate from pettier crimes like stealing cars to eventually holding people on the highway and robbing banks. Predictably, their haphazard criminal career comes to a grim, pointless end.
I won’t go deep in detail, so as to save some of the movie, but the only character who shows some growth is Angela, who, managing to escape, is left to an ambigious ending: She leaves with the money and a gun, but it is unclear if she’s walking away from the life of crime, or merely into the next chapter.
The film was made with an all-amateur cast from an area outside of Madrid (pointedly the areas most crime-ridden and equivalent to inner-city decay in America). There was some controversy when two of the cast members were arrested from crime during filming (the film continued to be the focus of its debate for its glorification of drugs and violence).
Of all the characters, Angela is the most well-acted, conveying a deep sense of dissatisfaction and boredom while also clinging to moments of happiness within this world. Her moment of growth towards the end is a tight, angry fist of catharsis.
Listen. Films of this nature are a dime a dozen, especially in the Vietnam era, when rebellion and anger were glorified and perhaps not questioned and criticized for its self-obsessed roots. If…, Clockword Orange, and–from an earlier time–Elevator to the Gallows, are all worth seeing if you are interested in examining this trope. Deprisa, Deprisa is as well, but with a particular Spanish twist.