Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Summer 1993

Reviews - Summer 1993

Summer 1993

Reviewed By Pam Newns

Summer 1993
Summer 1993
'Summer 1993' is a charming film which manages to capture the sense of loss of a child, in this case six-year-old Frida, on the death of her parents. The debut from Spanish director Carla Simon is all the more poignant for being autobiographical. It is composed of fragments of scenes as perceived by young Frida, as she is uprooted from her home, adapts to life in a new family and copes with her grief. Events are presented from a child’s eye view, giving us an authentic tale of emotions not fully understood and showing tensions as well as the happy times. There is a lightness of touch – and wonderful performances from the two young children who, you feel, are just being themselves.

Frida's parents have died from Aids and she is taken from her city home, her grandparents and beloved aunt Lola, to live with her mother's brother, his wife Marga and three-year-old daughter Anna in rural Catalonia. At first she is withdrawn, watchful and portrayed as being on the edge of the action – overhearing snatches of adult conversations, often about her. When she starts playing with Anna, she is at pains to show her all her dolls – "I have a lot of dolls because everyone loves me" she re-assures herself – "and you mustn't touch them".

Several snapshots follow – the mother who snatches her daughter away when Frida cuts her knee (assuming contaminated blood); a dressing up scene imitating her own mother; her domination of her new sister, who tries to copy her. Understandably, Frida often feels jealous of Anna and excluded from the family intimacy. And, although Uncle Esteve makes an effort to include her, it is a strain for Marga to cope with this grieving and often wayward child.

Soon Frida starts playing up – abandoning Anna in the forest resulting in a broken arm and getting Anna to follow her swimming in the river where Anna nearly drowns. Frida's sense of abandonment culminates in her trying to run away ("nobody loves me"); that night Marga just holds her and strokes her face tenderly.

Interspersed are scenes of the children enjoying life – Frida proudly leads the local village parade and there is a joyous family pillow fight, after which Frida's emotions get the better of her and she bursts into tears – the only time we see her cry, and a hopeful end to a lovely film.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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