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Milana bonita (Beatifoul Jackdaw)


The recent death of the genius Alfredo Landa has reminded some of us of the great titles from his filmography as well as the different roles starred in by one of the great Spanish comedians. His work merits the honorary title conferred upon him as one of the greats of the silver screen.

Among the great moments of his life was the rivalry between Landa and Paco Rabal –another comic genius – over receiving, ex aequo, the Palm d’Or in the Cannes Film Festival, for their portrayals of the characters of poor Paco and Azarías, his brother-in-law, in the movie "Los santos inocentes" [“The Innocent Saints”] by Mario Camus. This essential piece of Spanish cinema has now been reissued and seeing this movie again has allowed me to notice aspects and patterns that I did not see when the movie came out.

The movie is based on an excellent novel from 1981 by Miguel Delibes, which possesses all the characteristics of his literary work. The creation is replete with fully formed characters, a faithful recreation of the rural environment of Spain of the 60’s and the hard lives of the workers on a country estate belonging to an aristocratic family who spend their leisure time in hunts. But above all, they especially love nature and respect the lives of others, resolutely and without reservations. If one can more or less remember the anecdotal aspects of the drama, what really catches the eye and indelibly remains in one’s memory is Azarías’ expression of joy, with his toothless mouth, his soaked beret and the light in his eyes calling over his shoulder to the little black jackdaw: "Milana bonita" [“Beautiful Little Jackdaw”]!. The bird was his treasure, the refuge of his best feelings, and represented the tenderness and loyalty of an animal as innocent as Azarías himself. The relationship between bird and man is beautiful. The man with his diminished mental faculties is used by the farm owners with disdain, but is lovingly welcomed by his family who give equal respect for his companion animal, the beautiful jackdaw. And this is the most striking respect of the film that such respect should exist in an environment of serving on a hunting farm, where partridges are killed for entertainment and servants are used as things.

Delibes was a passionate hunter, his Diario de un cazador [“Diary of a Hunter”] is a personal homage to the hunt, through which he knew the ancient rules of no killing with cruelty or without necessity. The support for the hunt today and the manner in which it is practiced, massively and without discrimination in many cases, is debatable. As such, the novel and the book contain an unqualified criticism of animal cruelty and degradation of beings that are considered "inferior". Not for nothing, the last scene of the movie is the application of the Law of Talion [“an eye for an eye”] in its most primitive form, when master Iván, frustrated after a day without a successful hunt, kills the jackdaw which is flying happily to receive Azarías, in spite of the latter’s attempts, in his own slow language, to try to stop the bird, calling out: milana, milana bonita!!

There’s a lot more to delve into in the link between humans and animals; it’s a need that is becoming more important and an inevitable result from the damage that has resulted from the lack of an ethical system for nature and the lack of revision of the norms that should include this ethic. We try to develop a respectful relationship for animals which comes from the knowledge of their own interests, from study and from reflection. That is what we intend to do from these pages with initiatives that we constantly put into place, each and every one directed by the desire to form new generations of professionals with the best tools to attain excellence. Our personal improvement can engender a global improvement for the situations of animals in the entire world. That is what we are trying to consolidate through the Master in Animal Law and Society, which is now open for enrollment.

Teresa Giménez-Candela
Professor of Roman Law
Animal Law Professor
Autonomous University of Barcelona

keys law, legal , case law , animal

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