Cradle Song (Cancion de Cuna)

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Like the lives of the nuns he chronicles, there is great simplicity and grace in José Luis Garci’s Cradle Song. Although the story is simple, its effect is profound; and although most of the action takes place in the cloisters of a convent in a small Spanish town during the nineteenth century, the film is imbued with a sense of youth, vitality, and excitement.

Don José, a medical doctor, is the only outsider permitted inside the doors of the convent. He brings some news and occasional candy from the outside world. One day a newborn baby is left at the door of the convent. Named Teresa, she grows into a beautiful young woman and falls in love with Pablo, a dashing young man who wishes to start a new life with her in America. Although confident of Teresa’s ability to tackle the outside world, the nuns are also sad to see her leave.

Cradle Song’s strength lies in the consistent beauty Garci has created inside the convent. The nuns go about their daily routines and observe strict rules, yet their personalities remain irrepressible. This is a film of breathtaking images. Light not only transforms the convent into an enchanting labyrinth of chambers with golden highlights but also signifies the freedom beyond the leaded windows. Like a good fairy tale, Cradle Song transports us to a serene world of truth, beauty, and innocence.

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details

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