Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf (1975)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Paint your village and you will paint the whole world.

Leo Tolstoy

Leonardo Favio knew that very well. It is as if it were impregnated in his DNA, because he did nothing more than shout to the world the trifles, the details, the most intimate of his “village”. With Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf the Argentine director’s bet was quite risky. Now he was not talking about the oppressed children’s victims of a political and social system like in Chronicle of a Boy Alone (1965), nor about the legendary gaucho of Juan Moreira (1973), now he turns to a character that comes from the Guarani mythology. And we say risky because it is not one of those classic figures from Greek or Norse mythology, it is a figure that has limited relevance within a less widespread culture.

As was customary, Favio worked with his brother Jorge Zuhair Jury to write the script, inspired by the stories of a radio soap opera or radio drama by the writer Juan Carlos Chiappe, which took place in 1951 and dealt with the myth of “El lobizón”. This legend talks about the curse of the seventh son, hence the radio play “Nazareno Cruz y el Lobo” was born. Favio’s treatment of the story is that of a tragic comedy. Just listen to the fatal premonition of the witch who was condemning Nazareno before he could even take his first breath. Or perhaps we should shudder at the thunder and lightning that prophesies the stormy end of the unlucky seventh.

It is in that world of magical realism of Nazareno and his village where Leonardo Favio does his thing. First the beauty that captivates and the joy that is not contained, then Mandingo and the confirmation of a fatal sentence. Not even the Cross received at his baptism would prevent his love for Griselda from turning into the chimera of the werewolf. Favio plays with genres, both offloading with loose, naughty comedy and romping with surreal drama. That’s how versatile Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf is, and it couldn’t be for less in the case of a myth that is painted with the colors of horror and fantasy.

Juan José Camero must be the Nazarene and Marina Magali plays Griselda, they could well have been Montague and Capulet, because fortune saw them from afar and did not rush to find them. Both young people achieve a good job with their characters, Nazareno must bear the blame and Griselda is the fuse that lights everything up. Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf is Favio’s journey to the gates of hell to hear the devil himself beg for mercy.

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