Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (El herrero y el diablo) (2018)
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Critic Reviews for Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (El herrero y el diablo)
Rather than hot pokers and knives, this duo use bells and chickpeas. That's right, this film is so good that it makes chickpeas scary! So much so that you may very well feel some sympathy for the devil.
With fantastic set designs and beautifully sombre lighting, The Blacksmith And The Devil transforms nineteenth-century northern Spain into a space all at once mythic and medieval...
A meritorious production, surely more skillful than plenty of media, does not know whether or not to take itself seriously. [Full Review in Spanish]
With its balance between specificity and universality, Errementari reveals a filmmaker capable of transmitting how passionately he feels for his material. [Full Review in Spanish]
... the images end up being bombastic instead of imposing, as if you put a disc thinking that you are going to hear a coven of Black Sabbath and what it sounds to play is the pagan Feast of Wizard of Oz. [Full review in Spanish]
Audience Reviews for Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (El herrero y el diablo)
Could I classify this movie as a dark fairy tale? I don't really think I can, though the way the film is put together makes it come across as one. It's really more of a fable based on Basque folklore though, if there is that much difference between the two. But, whenever I can find an excuse to criticize Disney for destroying fairy tales as we know it, then I'll just fucking take it. I mean, realistically speaking, Disney hasn't destroyed fairy tales. They have, in fact, helped in their popularity and even inspired people to seek the originals out. What I mean by that they've ruined it is that they've stripped it of a certain darkness that was inherent in them. I understand that Disney appeals to a more family friendly audience and those dark fairy tales might not be 'appropriate' for all ages. I have no problem with that, Disney does what they feel is best for their bottom line. And if they make more money out of being family friendly, so be it. Everyone needs to be represented. What I don't like is that by owning the rights of all of these fairy tales, or most of them at least, that does not allow other people, who might have a new and clever twist on an old classic, from giving it a shot, because Disney would bring its mighty legal hammer down on these people. And that's not exactly creator friendly. A lot of these fairy tales used to belong to public domain before long before Disney started on their quest for world domination. With movies like El Laberinto del Fauno, Tale of Tales and this one, there's obviously room for dark fairy tales/fables for adults and I'm hopeful that more movies like this keep getting released, just to show the world that Disney might own the rights to all of these fairy tales, but that they don't own the creativity and inventiveness behind the aforementioned movies. Seriously, though, how the fuck can I hate a movie where all the demons, and I do mean all of them, have OCD. The Blacksmith and Usue drop chickpeas from this jar in front of them and the demons cannot help themselves and, impulsively, they start counting every single chickpea on the floor. It drives them nuts and if you were to shuffle the chickpeas on the floor with your hand, they'd start their count all over again. It's something so silly, but it was actually really quite funny. And, ultimately, that's one of the things that surprised me the most about this movie, how comedic it actually is. Sartael, the demon the blacksmith has managed to capture, is such a stupid demon. There's one scene where he escapes from his cage, he threatens the blacksmith with death, suffering and eternal torment when he comes back, he runs away and his foot lands on a bear trap and he falls to the floor in agony. Later on in the movie, he escapes again and the same thing happens. He threatens everyone before stepping on a bear trap. The villagers then come over and yell 'A DEMON!!!' and then they start hitting him with their shovels and pitchforks. It's all quite comical. Sartael, eventually, really does kind of grow on you as a bit of a dimwit, but he's probably the most likable demon I've ever seen in a movie. He was wildly entertaining. Regardless, the movie isn't perfect. Long story short, if you don't wanna keep reading this review, I thought this was a really good movie. I thought the world was fully realized, the visual style was top notch, the prosthetic make-up and the storytelling, while not without its flaws, was overall very strong as well. But I will say that the movie is oddly paced. It's obviously never bad and the movie is obviously setting up its own world, characters and the lore behind, but I feel that it still does take a while before it really gets going. Having said that, though, I feel that they do a good job at shrouding the titular blacksmith in a lot of mystery. You don't know if you can trust him or not given that he, of course, made a deal with Sartael in order to come back home, to his wife, from the war safe and sound. Of course, it turns out that his wife had been with another man and she had given birth to a child. Three years had passed and she thought he was dead. In anger, the blacksmith, according to the film's backstory, apparently threatened to throw the baby in the fire. The baby's father came in and started fighting with the blacksmith and the father, ultimately, was killed at the hands of the blacksmith. So the blacksmith, feeling that Sartael was responsible for his misery, hunted him down and held him hostage so he could torture the fucker with chickpeas...and crosses. Usue is the blacksmith's wife's baby. Usue knows her mother killed herself as people, mostly kids, constantly taunt her and remind her that her mother hung herself and therefore she is in hell. This is important in how it leads into the climax, where Usue, fed up of everyone mistreating her and saying she deserves to go to hell, makes a deal with Alastor (the big bad demon, so to speak) to send her to hell in order to be with her mother again. Anyway, like I said, this has some pacing issues that will bother a lot of people more used to quicker paced films. The film starts with, supposedly, a curator (who turns out to be Alastor in disguise) attempting to gain access to the blacksmith's workshop, which is behind this locked wooden gate with spikes sticking out of it, in order to see if there is something valuable in there. It is a while before Usue finds her way into the workshop, which is when, I feel, the movie really starts. While the friendship between Usue and the blacksmith is relatively simple, as they bond over torturing the demon, it is surprisingly effective. Because, out of anyone in town, the blacksmith, whom the villages accuse of murdering his wife or generally being an evil fucker, is the only one that treats her well and isn't constantly remind her that her mother is in hell. The person that, indirectly, caused Usue's mother to kill herself is the only one that's good to her. However, I don't think that the movie works as well as it does without their bond. It's the emotional core of the film and it's why the blacksmith, eventually, agrees to go back to hell with Sartael, who was attempting to deliver his soul to hell. It's in order to save Usue. It's all very effectively done and, again, the movie is very creative in how it presents its world and its characters. As I mentioned, the prosthetic make-up in the movie is incredible. I do feel that the portrayal of the demons is a bit too on the nose for me. And its depiction of hell is exactly the same depiction of hell you see in the bible. Fire and brimstone, etc, etc, etc. I feel a bit at odds with this depiction of the demons and hell itself. The reason for that is that, in my opinion, a little more subtlety might have helped make their point across a little better. The reason I say this is that the demons themselves can take human form. But the moment you see Sartael, the less powerful the reveal of hell itself is at the climax. The reason I say that is because once you see Sartael and how he is the very stereotype of what we imagine demons to be, then you know what hell is gonna be. If Sartael himself is presented in his human form for the majority of the movie, only for, say, Alastor or Sartael himself, to reveal their true form prior the blacksmith being taken down to hell would have made for a more memorable climactic scene. Not that it isn't a memorable scene already, that's not even my point, but I just feel that it would have been even more impressive. Because that would be the first view you get of what this movie's vision of hell is. But that vision of hell is spoiled by Sartael being seen in his demonic form throughout most of the movie. It's a relatively minor complaint and I'd still say that this was a very good movie, but it is worth pointing out. I don't know what else I can say about this movie. It's funny, it's haunting and, most importantly, it's a very unique movie to add to the dark fantasy genre. It's genuinely a very good movie in spite of its flaws and I would, quite easily, give this a recommendation.
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