Mariana Anghileri in “Aballay, el Hombre sin Miedo” [2010 Argentina, Spain]

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Fernando Spiner’s drama, “Aballay, el Hombre sin Miedo” [Eng. Title: Aballay, the Man without Fear] is a western, Argentinian style. It is no doubt inspired by films from Spaghetti-western greats such as Sergio Leone in terms of cinematography, editing, and perhaps even the soundtrack, but the story and screenplay itself is gritty in a very Latin American way as it focuses on the Argentinian cult of ‘Gaucho’, which I admit learning about only through watching this film. It is nevertheless conventional story-telling and should be easy to follow even for a foreign audience. It is impressively made with well-rounded characterisation – except possibly the hero character Julián (Nazareno Casero) who I think may have been miscast. But it is a fine little film as it stands that needs to be seen by a wider audience and therefore, Recommended Viewing!

Set some time during the beginning of the twentieth century, the film starts with a young Julián bearing witness to the grisly murder of his father and his entire stagecoach party while crossing the desert – they’re ambushed by a gang of Gauchos, led by Aballay. He notices the boy hiding, but allows him to live by not telling his other gang members.

Ten years on, a Julián in his youth retraces the fateful path to arrive at a middle-of-nowhere desert outpost called La Malaría, seeking revenge. He stays put in village belle Juana’s house to search the region for his father’s assassins, a region that is now under the thumb of a different gaucho named “El Muerto” – he used to be Aballay’s deputy. Meanwhile Julián falls in love with Juana despite knowing that El Muerto wants her for himself. El Muerto proposes to Juana at a local fiesta in the most shocking fashion, by branding her buttocks with his initials. Julián, who tries to stop him is beaten and strung to the ground for the vultures to feed on – looks like this is the favourite method of executing enemies. Juana escapes from El Muerto’s clutches to free Julián and takes him to a reclusive local saint known for his healing powers.

As it happens, the saint, Julián’s saviour turns out to be Aballay himself – he had given up violence soon after the murder of Julián’s father, and had also taken a vow to never descend from his horse. This poses an inconvenient dilemma for young Julián



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