On Marcelino Pan y Vino (1955):
A group of monks, living long ago in Spain, adopt an orphan child left at the monastery door. Given the name of Marcelino, the boy (Pablito Calvo) grows to be both a delightful and a mischievous 5-year-old, though also one who is lonely. He invents an invisible friend, who is gradually replaced by a visible one: a statue of Jesus Christ, crucified, come to life!
Because the God-man is hungry, the boy brings him bread and wine from the monks’ kitchen, thus inspiring Jesus to rename the child Marcelino Pan y Vino (Marcelino Bread and Wine). Problems the monks have with a hostile town mayor and probable freethinker are solved through a final stunning miracle Jesus performs and which the monks ecstatically witness. Once again it’s a miracle involving Marcelino.
This is an imaginatively made, deeply religious Spanish film directed by Ladislao Vajda (a Hungarian!) In a way it confirms the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes: “the day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth” (7:1). Marcelino misses having a mother, and for him, not having a mother on earth means having one in Heaven. The boy asks Jesus, “Where is your mother?” “She is with yours,” Jesus replies. Several low-angle shots of the landscape under a spacious sky are meant to emphasize the existence not only of God but also of Heaven.
For God, to be sure, is not simply up above. “Do you know who I am?” Jesus asks Marcelino. ‘Yes,” says the boy. “God.” This after a crucified man appears in a monastery’s attic. Marcelino Pan y Vino is a gentle picture truly accepting of the supernatural and the miraculous.
(In Spanish with English subtitles.)
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