That Cow is about These Cows
Vacas is a movie spanning six decades pitting two Spanish families against each other. This is not the Hatfields and McCoys. The two families are in the same village. The men fight in the Basque wars, they compete in timber cutting, and they fight for the women of the village. Their families cannot escape the interaction and interconnection.
This movie is in five parts. At first, I was confused during the second act because some of the actors play many characters. The same character can be grandfather, father, and son as the movie progresses. This choice reinforces the concept of time and continuity. It also hints that we may not be able to escape our past even if attitudes and feelings were shifted by preceding generations.
Vacas uses many metaphors and thematic elements. There is a country-folk mysticism about the forest and a bottomless pit that sits between the two families. Many scenes are interrupted by a lumbering cow that seems to be everywhere. Grandfather even spends his time painting them. The cows bring new life to the village and the families even intermingle some, but Vacas is about the unfolding of time. The wars intrude, people grow old and lose their senility, and love cracks through the long history.
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