Released in the wake of Franco's death, Cría Cuervos takes its title from the Spanish maxim “Raise ravens, and they’ll pluck out your eyes” and cemented Carlos Saura’s reputation as the pre-eminent Spanish director of his time. Wondering how long fascism might be expected to linger in the deepest pools and darkest corners of Spanish middle class life, Saura’s screenplay focuses on a young girl, played by Ana Torrent, who murders her father, a wealthy patriarch and senior military officer who flourished under Franco’s patronage, because she believes that his philanderings precipitated her mother’s fatal illness and death a few years before. Once both her parents have died, she remains in their family home with her sisters, maid, aunt and grandmother – there are no major male characters - but the distinction between present and past is confounded by the continual appearance of her mother, played by Geraldine Chaplin, in fantasy segments and flashbacks, as well as Ana’s own interjections from the vantage point of 1995, some twenty years in the future, where she’s also played by Chaplin. If part of the allure of Franco’s Spain, and of fascism more generally, was its promise to eternalise traditional values, and turn the nuclear family stucture into an escape from the vicissitudes of history, then Saura’s film over-identifies with and exhausts that fantasy, stifling and embalming his actresses in a limbo that rarely allows his camera to leave their house and, when it does, compensates with Francoist architecture that’s even more melancholy, gloomy and haunted than their own. With the exception of a couple of records that are played, jarringly, at key moments, there’s no music and virtually no sound outside the dialogue, unless you count the rumble of distant traffic, somewhere far beyond the family’s sprawling garden and abandoned swimming pool, which is continuous as it is remote, more a vibration than a sound. Every word falls on that void, just as Saura’s muffled mise-en-scenes exude the unearthly hush that descends on a house after someone has died in it, even or especially as we move further and further away from the opening wake, whether by going back in time, forward in time, or further into fantasy, following the train of Ana’s impassive, pregnant stare as it absorbs the sound and substance out of any space it lights upon, much like her performance in Spirit of the Beehive. At one point, her adult self describes childhood as an “interminably long and sad time, filled with fear,” and the film sinks into that strange sense of time as well, suspended between stillborn facism and barely conceived democracy, like a child who’s longing to mourn but has never really learned how.