Thursday, March 3, 2016

THE YOUNG ONE (1960): A Racist Rapes a [Teen] Nymphet

In Luis Buñuel's The Young One (1960), after he was falsely accused of rape by a white woman, Traver, an African American musician, fled the city, via a stolen boat, to a Carolina island that was inhabited by Miller, a racist beekeeper, and Evalyn (Key Meersman), an orphaned nymphet.

Initially, Miller attempted to capture Traver and hand him over to the racist authorities; however, Miller had a change of heart after Rev. Fleetwood discovered that Miller seized Evalyn's virginity.

Surprisingly, Evalyn was portrayed as being completely unaware of her sexual allure - even after Miller repeatedly caressed and attempted to kiss her and even after Traver warned the 13-year-old about the allure of a nymphet.

Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote in his review of the film, which he titled "THE YOUNG ONE: Buñuel’s Neglected Masterpiece", that the film wasn't well received:
"The New Yorker accorded Buñuel’s film a dismissive paragraph, the big Manhattan dailies were hostile, and, according to Buñuel, “A Harlem newspaper even wrote that I should be hung upside down from a lamppost on Fifth Avenue….I made this film with love, but it never had a chance. American morality couldn’t accept it. It hardly did any better in Europe and even today, it’s hardly ever shown.”"

However, despite the film's eroticizing of a nymphet, it was (unsurprisingly) nominated for a Palme d'Or and received a Special Mention at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. 

The Young One (1960) was loosely based on Peter Matthiessen's "Travelin' Man". 

And interestingly, Meersman played the seventeen-year-old wife of a middle-aged man in Arturo's Island (1962) [Italian: L'isola di Arturo].

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