In keeping with our National Hispanic Heritage Month theme, today we take a look at Spanish director Juan Antonio Bardem‘s rural drama from 1958, “La venganza” (Vengeance). Bardem’s previous film, the politically charged “Muerte de un ciclista” (Death of a Cyclist), expressed the bitterness of life under the rule of dictator Francisco Franco. The film so angered the regime that Bardem was thrown in jail and was still incarcerated when “Muerte de un ciclista” won the International Critics Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955.
What makes “La venganza” unique is it was the very first Spanish language film to be nominated for an Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film, 1958). Despite losing out to Jacques Tati’s “Mon oncle“, the film holds a special place in the Academy’s recognition of Spanish filmmaking. José Luis Garci’s “Volver a empezar” eventually took home the first Spanish language Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film) in 1982.
And yes, Juan Antonio Bardem is related to Academy Award winning actor Javier Bardem – he’s his uncle.