ERREMENTARI: A DELICIOUS OLD GOTHIC TALE FOR OUR MINDS
By Erika Tiburcio (*)
ERREMENTARI or THE DEVIL AND THE BLACKSMITH (2017), by Paul Urkijo, is based on an old Basque legend that tells the story of Patxi, who could deceive some devils. Regarding the movie, it is the story of Patxi (Kandido Uranda), who has lived alone since the Carlist war, in an isolated place near a small town in Álava, the southern region of the Basque country.
This movie follows the tale structure, where some monsters such as Sartael (Eneko Sagardoy), a devil who is prisoner in the Earth, threaten the normality of these inhabitants. From a social point of view, this fantasy one is a perfect example of using imaginary worlds for talking about real elements. One important feature of this movie is the fact that no characters are what they seem, which connects to the idea of hypocrisy that has been a cultural characteristic of Spanish. It is well known that, in small towns, all neighbors watched how the others behaved, who had to act according to catholic moral. However, many people had a hidden life and they secretly did what they really wanted.
Another essential aspect is the importance of the forest and its association to a dangerous place. Indeed, the Basque Country is one of the places of Spain where there are more legends related to witches, devils and other fantasy creatures. This is because, in this area, they are denser, turning them into a more dangerous place. Apart from that, its rural context allowed that the pagan inheritance has been more powerful, so legends were more real and closer for them. As it is shown in the flick, the forest is the intermediate place to arrive at a place where devils are real (there is one in Patxi’s house).
This film is also good at showing some cultural and anthropological features of Spain: the toughness of Basque women, the existence of a big bunch of peasants that obey a wealthier man, the importance of the catholic priest in these communities, etc. As a matter of fact, Usue (Uma Bracaglia), the little protagonist girl, shows a strong personality and, even, she is a kind of outsider who cannot adapt to society completely. Likewise, Patxi is a misfit in the same society too as well as Sartael is in the Hell, what triggers an approach among them.
Finally, its film style stands out because, not only the structure makes possible watching a tale, but also the importance of photography and the special mise-en-scene to create this unreal place. In fact, it seems that there is no interest in reflecting a realistic style, because all the devils that come up are similar to medieval images. In a way, they link to Méliès and his Mephistopheles, whose appearance was framed within a non-realistic story. To sum up, it is a very interesting story, produced by Alex de la Iglesia, which adds a new title to the Spanish gothic fantasy films.
Erika Tiburcio (nancykrueger) lives in Madrid and works as a teacher. Currently she is doing her PhD thesis about the serial killer in American horror movies from Psycho to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. She loves horror movies, comic books, video games, etc. She has contributed to some Spanish websites and magazines like Phenomena Experience magazine and La Mansión del Terror and has written some articles for different international magazines like Serial Killer Calendar.