(aka 'Cria!' or 'Raise Ravens' or 'The Secret of Anna')

Directed by Carlos Saura
Spain 1976


  Carlos Saura's exquisite Cria cuervos… heralded a turning point in Spain: shot while General Franco was on his deathbed, the film melds the personal and the political in a portrait of the legacy of fascism and its effects on a middle-class family (the title derives from the Spanish proverb: "Raise ravens and they’ll peck out your eyes"). Ana Torrent (the dark-eyed beauty from The Spirit of the Beehive) portrays the disturbed eight-year-old Ana, living in Madrid with her two sisters and mourning the death of her mother, whom she conjures as a ghost (an ethereal Geraldine Chaplin). Seamlessly shifting between fantasy and reality, the film subtly evokes both the complex feelings of childhood and the struggles of a nation emerging from the shadows.


A mesmerising film which conflates the drive to wish-fulfillment - a young girl, after watching the death of her father, comes to believe she holds the key to life and death - with a partial account of the last days of Fascism in Spain. At the root of both strands of Saura's elliptical script lies the idea of repression as the motor force behind the strange goings-on in the isolated (yet in the middle of Madrid) house of the Anselmo family. Intriguingly, the film suggests that the spirit of the dusty surrealism of Buñuel lives on in his native Spain.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


Theatrical Release: January 26th, 1976

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DVD Review: Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion Collection Spine #403 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:50:00 
Video 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.98 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Portrait of Carlos Saura, a 2004 documentary on the life and career of the Spanish auteur - with Vittorio Storaro and others (1:02:42 - 8 chapter stops Eng. subs)
• New interviews with actresses Geraldine Chaplin (21:03) and Ana Torrent (7:50)
• Original theatrical trailer
• Liner notes 16-page booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Paul Julian Smith

DVD Release Date: August 14th, 2007

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 24




The Criterion DVD looks as competent as one might expect. Progressively transferred on a dual-layered disc - anamorphically in the original 1.66 aspect ratio. There are both Spanish (Manga Films) and a Belgian DVD edition of this film but I have neither to compare but believe only the Spanish version offers English subtitles. The Criterion image is clean, slightly muted and detail is fairly strong with some minor digital artifacts visible. There are optional English subtitles to support the consistent Spanish mono audio. Disc one with the film, only shares the DVD with a theatrical trailer. The edition of this Carlos Saura film predates the upcoming sixth Eclipse label package with the director's Flamenco Trilogy (Blood Wedding, Carmen, and El amor brujo) on October 16th.

Digital supplements on disc 2 represent 3 items - Portrait of Carlos Saura, is an hour long documentary (optionally English subtitles) from 2004 on the life and career of the Spanish auteur by José Luis López Vázquez. It has segments with the directors son, Antonio, Marisa Paredes, Geraldine Chaplin and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. There are also two new interviews - one, 20 minutes, with actresses Geraldine Chaplin and another, about 8 minutes long with Ana Torrent. Included in the package is a 16-page booklet featuring a very good essay by film scholar Paul Julian Smith called 'The Past Is Not the Past'.

I'm very glad to have seen this film - it was a new experience for me. Quite haunting and poignant with definite reflections of Erice and Buñuel. It has spurred by anticipation for Saura's Flamenco Trilogy (Blood Wedding, Carmen, and El amor brujo) by Eclipse coming soon. Recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze



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Disc 2


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Distribution Criterion Collection Spine #403 - Region 1 - NTSC


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