Categories: Reviews

Criticism of ‘Irati’, epic adventure full of fantasy

‘Irati’ is the ambitious product of that boy who firmly believed in fantasy and adventure as the best way to understand what we are.

    There is something about this splendid fantasy-filled epic adventure reminiscent of the beginning of Richard Donner’s ‘Superman’: a boy in black and white and in a square/classic screen format who, upon opening the pages of the Action Comics issue in which debuted the man of steel sees how his world (ours too) expands, fills with colors and takes us to that territory of the fantastic, of the imagination. Paul Urkijo unfolds before his / our eyes all his childhood of walks with his father through enchanted forests populated by things that exist because they have names. That universe of stories and legends has matured in the young filmmaker thanks also to that other wonderful refuge that is the cinema, that of all the films that far exceeded the format of a television screen or a neighborhood exhibition hall. ‘Irati’ is the product, ambitious in an industry like the Spanish one that usually curbs ambition, of that kid who firmly believed in fantasy and adventure (in the cinema, in short) as the best way to understand what we are, where we come from and where we are going.

    Historical film, ‘Irati’ turns the official historical chronicle (that of the victors) into the true nemesis of its protagonists, that unreasonable reason that hides the essence of existence: magic. As in ‘The Lord of War’ (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1965) or in the later claiming ‘The Dragon of the Lake of Fire’ (Matthew Robbins, 1981), Urkijo’s film focuses on how an era “modern” and religious was cornering and replacing a whole world of magic intimately linked to Nature that lives hidden from the gaze of the “real”. Urkijo takes the protagonist couple from Schaffner’s feature film: the knight of the cross and the sword who discovers that other side thanks to a woman, almost a fairy guardian of mythologies. Road movie after all, this journey of initiation and discovery in search of a grave and a treasure (as in ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’, and the mention is not free for a tape that drinks from Sergio Leone in several sequences), ‘Irati’ stands as the ‘Excalibur’ (John Boorman, 1981) of the legendary Basque oral tradition.

    The boy Paul Urkijo enjoys his excitement believing in each creature and burst of fantasy that surrounds his adventure with the same faith that Ray Harryhausen believed in his animated mythological beings frame by frame. He enjoys it, and the viewer next to him, once again becoming the child attentive to what his father was telling him about him in the depths of the woods. In the boy who reads a Superman comic and turns it into the greatest epic of his life. That Paul Urkijo, still a child, has become an enormous director in this his second work. In someone who breathes cinema and who, like only the greats, is capable of making a virtue out of the lack of resources that a proposal like ‘Irati’ needed: it is seeing how he has resolved the spectacular battle scene and that one (you know , critics are like that) Orson Welles from ‘Chimes at midnight’ appears.

    For avid epic fantasies very ours

    The best: everything that Eneko Sagardoy and Edurne Azkarate transmit in their leading roles.

    The worst: that it does not reach the general public to which it is directed.


    Address: Paul Urkijo Alijo Distribution: Edurne Azkarate, Eneko Sagardoy, Itziar Ituño, Nagore Aranburu Country: Spain Year: 2022 Release date: 24–2-2023 Gender: Fantastic Script: Paul Urkijo Alijo Duration: 111 min.

    Synopsis: Faced with the attack of Charlemagne’s army crossing the Pyrenees, the leader of the valley asks an ancestral goddess for help. Through a blood pact, he defeats the enemy by giving his life in exchange, but first, he makes his son Eneko promise to protect and lead his people in the new era. Years later, Eneko faces that promise with a mission: to recover the body of his father buried in a pagan way next to Charlemagne’s treasure.

    Source: Fotogramas