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Week of May 8, 2002

The Celluloid Couch. The St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute presents a series on movies and their psychological implications. This week features José Luis Cuerda's Butterfly (1999). This delicate fable about the relationship between a curious little boy and his first teacher is set in a Spanish mountain village in the spring of 1936, on the brink of the bloody Spanish Civil War. But it has all kinds of contemporary relevance: Working from three short stories by Manuel Rivas, Cuerda addresses the power of imagination, the force of love and the necessity of conscience in this deceptively simple movie. Less dependent on artifice than emotion, the director (whose previous work was largely for Spanish television) has chosen a big-eyed, amazingly vivid 6-year-old named Manuel Lozano to play the child and one of Spain's greatest actor/directors, Fernando Fernán Gmez, as the kindly old man whose good works will eventually destroy him. Beneath the simplicity of their story we discover the looming grief of a nation. Plays at 7 p.m. May 10 at the St. Louis Art Museum. (BG)

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