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Little Ashes

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Toni Pellicer


Madrid 1922. A city wavering on the edge of change as traditional values are challenged by the dangerous new influences of Jazz, Freud and the avant-garde. Salvador Dalí arrives at university: 18 years old and determined to become a great artist. His bizarre blend of shyness and rampant exhibitionism attracts the attention of two of the university’s social elite - Federico García Lorca and Luis Buñuel.

Salvador is absorbed into their decadent group and for a time Salvador, Luis and Federico become a formidable trio, the most ultra-modern group in Madrid. However as time passes, Salvador feels an increasingly strong pull towards the charismatic Federico – who is himself oblivious of the attentions he is getting from his beautiful writer friend, Margarita. Finally, in the face of his friends’ preoccupations – and Federico’s growing renown as a poet – Luis sets off for Paris in search of his own artistic success.

Federico and Salvador spend the holiday in the sea-side town of Cadaques. Both the idyllic surroundings and the warmth of the Dalí family sweep Federico off his feet. Salvador and he draw closer, sharing their deepest beliefs, inspirations and secrets, convinced that they have found a kind of friendship undreamt of by others. It is more than a meeting of the minds; it is a fusion of souls. And then one night, in the phosphorescent water, it becomes something else.

A seemingly innocent kiss throws Federico and Salvador into the realms of the taboo. In the world of Spanish Catholicism, homosexuality is an affront against God and man. On their return to Madrid the two embark on an unspoken, secret affair. When Luis visits, he is appalled to realise that Federico is in love with Salvador. He leaves the city in shock rather than confronting his one-time friend.

Salvador visits Luis in Paris and returns determined to separate himself from both Federico and Madrid – Luis has convinced him that both are proving detrimental to his career. Federico, increasingly fearful of his emotions, now becomes terrified of the thought of losing Salvador. One fateful afternoon the situation escalates as, frustrated and manipulated, Federico has sex with Magdalena whilst Salvador watches. The episode leaves Federico distraught as Salvador becomes colder than ever and leaves for Paris.

Alone in Madrid, Federico struggles against his psyche, tortured by the damning implications of his own religious beliefs and the undeniable voice of his flesh. He is haunted by news of Salvador who is collaborating on a Surrealist film with Luis and has embarked on an affair with a married woman – Gala. Finally Margarita forces Federico to admit to himself his homosexuality and carry on with his life.

He departs for America, never expecting to see Salvador again.

Madrid 1936. Spain is teetering on the precipice of civil war. Federico, now a highly acclaimed and controversial playwright, receives an invitation to dinner from Salvador and Gala. But the hosts have a rather unusual agenda and the evening is a disaster. A week later, Salvador is hosting a party when he discovers that Federico has been assassinated in the outbreak of war. The walls of self-denial that surround the artist come crashing down as he realises, too late, the depth of his love for Federico.


Type of film
Running Time
107 mins
Paul Morrison
Stephen P Jarchow, Paul Colichman, Debra Stasson, Luke Montagu, Stewart le Marechal, Philippa Goslett
Stephen P Jarchow, Paul Colichman, Debra Stasson, Luke Montagu, Stewart le Marechal, Philippa Goslett
Rachel Tunnard
Philippa Goslett
Director of Photography
Adam Suschitzky
Production Designer
Pere Francesch
Jaume Meléndez
Miguel Mera
Principal Cast
Javier Beltrán, Matthew McNulty, Robert Pattinson, Marina Gatell

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Last updated 11th May 2009

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