- Burrows (1951)Surcos led a return to realism in Spanish cinema after a decade and a half of patriotic films, literary adaptations, folkloric musicals, fancy comedies, and historical epics. The film tells the story of a family from the country who move to the big city to survive, but find the conditions and culture clash painful. They all have difficulties adapting, and the family unit starts to dissolve: the father is unable to find work in factories and is humiliated by having to work in the house and wear an apron; the daughter becomes the lover of a racketeer and gets into show business; the older son becomes obsessed with the wrong kind of woman and has to work for the black market in order to keep her happy; only the naïve younger son eventually finds a better life by meeting a nice traditional girl (daughter of a puppeteer) and leaving the tenement house in which the family lives.What was original about this film was that, for the first time, reality on film had a social interpretation in the narrative: beyond the melodrama and individual situations, the film actually deals with the difficulties of traditional Spanish culture in face of critical upheavals, and it commented on the false hopes peasants had as illusions wrongly promoted by the system. A way had to be found, the film suggested, to provide balanced living conditions in their villages.The film was directed with a precise eye for urban landscapes and using largely real locations by Falangist José Antonio Nieves Conde, and in that year it was the main contender for every award. It competed against Alba de América (Dawn of America, Juan de Orduña, 1951), the last of CIFESA's historical epics, and in some cases it won the contest. No doubt Surcos was the better film, but the reasons had to do with power struggles and different views on the potential social role of film. What was at stake was the definition of what Spanish cinema should be. Surcos was one of the examples set up by young filmmakers in the Salamanca Conversations as the new kind of film that the country needed. Nieves Conde assimilated the lessons of neorealism in a series of sequences shot in the street (even in the underground) bursting with the activity of everyday urban life.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.