Art History at the Movies: Little Ashes

ETA: Decided to rewrite this.

Little Ashes

A movie about Federico Garcia Lorca (Javier Beltran), Salvador Dali (Robert Pattinson), and Luis Bunuel (Matthew McNulty) during their time at college and the different paths they took afterwards.  This film also focused on the friendship and doomed love between Lorca and Dali.

I must say, compared to the other art history movies I have reviewed so far, this film feels so low-key in execution.  It also does not follow the usual tropes I found in earlier films.  In short, it played as a straight drama and did not go as overboard on the artsy side that the earlier films did.  I have to give kudos to Robert Pattinson for his portrayal of Dali.  At first, I felt a little skeptical about him playing the Surrealist.  From what I had seen in clips from Twilight and the whole Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I did not know if he could pull off Dali.   However, he does look like Emo Phillips when he makes his first appearance.  On his acting, he proved me wrong.  When he played Dali, he fully disappeared into his role.  While his version of Dali was a rated R version of Dali (read Maniac Eyeball, if you dare), he looked like he had fun.  I admit I geeked out when I saw him reenact the famous scene of Dali talking down to the university judges, as recounted by Robert Descharnes and Gilles Neret in his book Dali: The Paintings.(1)  He played the arrogant Dali I have always read about with zest.

One big thing I did not like about this movie?  The way they depicted Gala Dali.  This movie and Lorca acts like she wrecked the relationship between him and Dali.  Seriously, judging by this movie’s scenes, she did not wreck the relationship between Dali and Lorca.  You know who wrecked it? Dali and Lorca.  Dali could not fully commit, and Lorca made things worse by having sex with their friend Magdalena in front of Dali.  Furthermore, Dali had ambitions of becoming a famous artist while Lorca wanted to stay behind in Spain.  Essentially, this movie proclaims one thing and then shows something completely different.  By the way, according to the book Dali, it was André Breton that ruined their friendship ETA:  I wrote this wrong, I’m sorry.  According to the book Dali: The Paintings, the Surrealist group divided Lorca and Dali, but Dali ended the friendship.(2)    Another problem I had with this film came from when Lorca recited his poems.  He would say them in English, but a Spanish voice dub would come up afterwards.  It irritated me to say the least.

Did I like this film, you ask?  Well, I did like it for Robert Pattinson’s performance.  Would I recommend this film to other people?  Sure, but with caution.


1. Neret, Gilles, and Robert Descharnes. Dali: The Paintings. Taschen, 2007, 129.

2. Neret, Gilles, and Robert Descharnes. Dali: The Paintings. Taschen, 2007, 124.

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