La isla de los hombres solos (1974) - full transcript

The film version of Jose Leon Sanchez's best-selling novel about the author's 20 years of imprisonment on an island ruled by brutality.

It happened a long time ago.

And now that I shouldn't
be afraid anymore,

I'm going to tell it bit
by bit, as I remember it.

What happens to a man when he leads a life

where goodness doesn't exist, and at times

he feels like his heart will burst.

Your life is no longer yours.

You aren't free anymore.

And your claws can't do any harm.

Prison is so bitter and
there's such a taste

of viciousness within its walls.

This is our story, the men who have spent

many years filled with loneliness.

Do you know what a madrone is?

It's a tree that each month, when the moon

moves across the heavens
like a silver cat's tail,

the witches come to visit,
and in the good trees,

they cast their spells of joy.

And the folks that know
say, the ones whose hair

is as white as corn silk,
that at every new moon,

the flowers of the madrone tree

are full of the enchantment and good luck

that the witches left
on their previous visit.

And that's why I went to
the mountain and came back

with a bunch of madrone
flowers for Maria Lena.

She was so fair, and
her eyes were so bright,

with the clearness in light of the clouds

in the afternoon sky of an Indian summer.

She had a timeless beauty.

There was a man who pursued her harder

than all the others put together,

and he was respectfully called Don Miguel.

- Take my horse.

- I can't read.

- Doesn't matter.

I'm a friend of the president.

And as of this moment, the
supreme authority of this pueblo.

Tell that to everyone.

The supreme authority.

Her hair was
blond and so beautiful.

Many times in my memory, I
compared it to a ray of sunshine

resting on a rock in
the middle of a stream.

It was also long and
soft, like the pretty silk

that grows around the begonias
on the edge of the marsh.

- May the Lord be with
you, Senor Martinez.

- Afternoon, Juanito, come on in.

- I'm going to put the flowers in a vase.

- Did you hear we've got
a new supreme authority?

Guess it's the man who came on horseback.

- Hope he does good.

Now that the president gave
him so much power over us.

I don't know why he needs
authority in a place

where nothing ever happens.

Whenever we went to a dance,

and the ranchers around there gave parties

on every occasion they can think of.

I remember I had suffered
a lot because the older men

watched her and flirted
with her in front of me.

They spoke to her with ease and charm

like I'd never been able to do,

with those fine phrases
and the compliments

I knew nothing about.

- Good day, Mary Elena.

- Good day, Don Miguel.

- Did you have fun last night?

- The music was very beautiful.

- No more than you.

And I dreamed about you
in my sleep last night.

And it was lovely having you in my dreams.

This morning I thought, Miguel,

you really ought to make
those dreams come true.

How about doing it?


Have you gone deaf and dumb?

You'll have time to laugh when you learn

that love's a good thing.

- Did my daughter tell
you about Don Miguel?

- Yes.

- Why don't you get married?

Elena's 15 years old now.

As your wife, he'll stop
bothering her so much,

and soon he'll be able to forget her.

- Yes, but first let me get
together a little money for us.

- Good day, Senor Martinez.

- May God always be with you, Senor.

- Good day, Don Miguel.

- How's my little pigeon, Mary Elena?

- Pretty good.

Pretty good.

Every day a bit more lovely.

- So I've noticed.

She's about the right
age for a man, I'd say.

- Yes.

She'll be marrying Juanito soon.

- Juanito?

He's still a baby chick.

That little pigeon will have to mate

with a rooster of experience.

- How many stars do you
think there are in the sky?

- About a hundred.

- No, there are many more.

And when we learn to count
to more than a hundred,

we'll know.

- You better start counting

- One.




- Five.
- Yes.

- Six.


- Honey.
- 22.

- May the Lord be with you, Don Miguel.

- What are you doing here?

- Taking a walk, Don Miguel.

- I'm sure you're lying.

She's coming with me under arrest.

- Don't touch her!

- Don't be such a tiger
with my women, pretty boy.

- Don't kill him!


Help me!


- Don Miguel.

- What do you want?

- Where's my daughter?

Tell me, for the love of God.

- You want to take her home?

- The only thing I want is
to be able to see her again.

- She's at the Juarez ranch, go get her.

- Don Miguel.

A maiden cannot be taken and
violated the way you did.

I ask you to please restore her honor.

- You're right.

The leftover women were
made for all the men

who were born weaklings.

So tell that cow herd Juanito to marry her

the way God wishes.

And I don't want to see
him around here again,

because the next time I
do, I'll use my machete

on him where it hurts.

- As for Mary Elena, there's
nothing to do about it.

What's happened now?

- I saw that man.

- Where's Mary Elena?

- I'll tell you the way he told me,

- "Tell that cow head Juanito
that I'm giving her back

so that he can marry her as God wishes.

He has to go for her at the Juarez ranch,

and he must leave the pueblo forever."

If you still love her and
want her, I'll go with you.

It's the same
today as it was in that moment.

It's as if it had happened yesterday.

Everything that happened I
still have locked in my brain

like something that you
can't and you mustn't forget.

Behind us, the wind continued to cry

as it passed through the trees,

as if it were trying to
scream about a hidden sorrow.

The rest of the afternoon
I spent with my heart

stuck in the middle of my throat.

I had never even learned to cry,

to find a release for my feelings.

And so I passed the hours
thinking and thinking

until there was nothing
that hadn't received

the sharp cut of my axe.

With the blade of my machete,
it would have been easy

to slice away even a thought.

She never said anything.

But I felt her silent pain.

It made her suffer and was always there

under the shadow of her tearful eyes,

like the drops that gather
on the leaves of the plants

after the storm has passed.

- Let's go to the
mountains to get flowers.

- We'll go tomorrow.

I have to finish the fence
for the chicken coop.

- Why haven't my parents
and my sister come to visit?

- They were here last week.

It's very difficult to get out here.

You have to row a lot.

- Your parents have never come.

- One of these days,
we'll go to the pueblo.

- One of these days.

- Are you happy?
- Mm-hmm.

The months
came and the months went.

And the joys arrived after the months.

And with them, the sorrows went away.

- The priest is going to come on Saturday

to marry the couples
who are living together.

You think you'd like to get married?

- What for?

There are plenty of pretty
pigeons here to my liking.

- After you took Mary
Elena, all the pigeons

13 and 14 years old began
flirting with you, Don Miguel.

- So I've noticed.

And a few of them are ready to be tasted.

- What about Mary Elena?

Have you seen her again?

Get out of here!

No, get out!

Let me go, please!

Let me go, please!

Please, leave me alone!

No, not again!

No, please let me go!

No, leave me alone!

Please leave me alone!

No, no!

Please let me go!

No, no, no, no, no!


No, no, please let me go!


- Hello there.

How are things with my pretty pigeon?

You whore, you're!

- No!

- It's plain to see he's
the father of your child!

Mary Elena!

Mary Elena!

Mary Elena!

Mary Elena!

Mary Elena!

- Shut up!

Get in there!

Get going, you guys, now move along now.

Hurry up now!

Get moving!

Pick up your feet.

Come on.

Don't look at me like that.

Move along now.

In you go.

Come on, don't bunch up around the door.

Stay in line!

Let's keep some order in here.

Get ready for two more.

Now pay attention.
- Keep them moving in here!

Hurry up!

That's it.

That's it!

One coming in.

- Open the gate!
- Okay, let's go.

Line up, line up.

- Come on, handsome move your ass!

Come on, let's get outta here!

What happened?

Stay where you are!

Stay put or we're blow your heads off!

Now, nobody move!

- Man, he's no good, get out!

- What's your name?

- Open up!

- Who's the bastard that keeps on crying?

- My brother, Gerardo.

He's about to die.

- Shut your face and let
the kid die in peace!

- Hey, Juan.

Divide up your brother's
clothes for all of us.

- If he can't live much
longer, what's he eating for?

- Hey, you pig.

Give me some food too.

- My brother has passed away.

My brother has passed away!

My brother Gerardo is dead!

- He's ice cold.

- Why don't we try to keep it a secret

for about three or four
days, because they'll

still give us his meals.

- The stench would be unbearable.

- Oh, how delicate you are.

the smell of the latrine is worse.

- Guards!


There's a dead man in here!

- Shut your-
- Quiet down!

- I'll call a squad of undertakers.

Open up.

There, in the corner.

Take him away!

- Let go of him, let go of him!

- They've got another one
to amuse themselves with.

- Yeah.

They might show respect,
at least for the dead.

- They touch my brother, they'll be dead.

You look like
a beautiful young girl.

- Water!

- You'll pass around the
water and nothing more.

Come on.

Get going.

- Just look at that poor old man.

That's the worst torture of all.

- Benacio punished him because he tried

to kill his cellmate
who wanted to screw him

while he was asleep.

And now he passes out the
water without drinking himself.

- Move along, move along!
- Pick up the pace, men.

Pick it up.

Come on!

Keep moving!

Get the lead out, hurry up!

Move along.

Come on!

Get up!

- I hope your pelican doesn't sink.

- I've dissected everything.

Even dogs.

And this isn't gonna be
the start of my bad luck.

- It'll work, don't you worry.

At five o'clock we'll be finished.

Nothing will happen.

Every one's forbidden
to mistreat those birds

by orders of the commandant.

- Come on, you filthy scum.

We're behind schedule.

Get moving.

- I am Nica Noah.

- Oh yes, I know.

I promised one afternoon
last week to help you.

What do you want?

- A bird vendor is
planning to escape today.

- Now the tide will
come in and we'll leave.

- Very good work, Captain.

- Thank you, sir.

- You've got to hurry, before
it's time for roll call.

- You idiot, don't you know it's forbidden

to hurt the pelicans?

- We've done enough for today, children.

Return to the prison.

- Come on!
- Hurry up!

- Can't you men hear?
- Come on!

Line up!

Hurry up, let's go.

Come on!
- Straighten up now.

- Hurry up.

Get in line.

Come on now.

Get in line.


Hurry up.

There to the right, let's go.

- 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24.

Berno, in that section
there's one missing.

- No one is missing.

- Colonel.
- No, one's missing.

Get moving.

- Right face, right face.

- Come on, get the lead out there.

- He's driving us all crazy again.

Shut up, you son of a bitch!

- Lend me your guitar, huh fella?

- You don't lend someone a guitar, friend.

You might lend a woman,
but never a guitar.

- And just how much do you
think your instrument's worth?

- A hundred.

- Get up!

What's the matter?

- The same as ever, sir.

A wound from the iron.

Take him to the
to be cured.

You two over there, come here.

Help him.

Escort, give us a hand.

- Let's go!

Here comes
another one for you, big boy.

- Your leg's full of gangrene.

- Take it easy, honey.

- Have to cut it off.

- Cut?

Cut it?

Cut it my ass!

You won't cut it off!

Let me go, you sons of bitches!

No, you damn coward bastards!


Please don't cut off my
leg, for the love of heaven!

- For half a pound of
tobacco, you can have him.

If you want to try him out, Mama Juanito

will sell him to you.

- What were you talking about
this afternoon with Raul?

- About my brother.

The chief undertaker composed
and signed his death warrant.

- Come on, get to work!

- Hey you, pick him up.

- Nobody shoot him!

- The first lousy son of a bitch

that takes a step toward me, I'll kill!

- Hold your fire.

- Stay where you are!
- Don't come any closer!

- Hear me out, son.

If you don't still surrender,
those bloodthirsty guards

will surely tear you apart.

I beg you, son, give me
the iron bar right now.

I promise by my military word of honor

that no one will harm you.

Stand back!

I gave my word and it will be kept!

Take him away without hurting him!

- Halt!

Open the ranks!

Soldiers face front!

Face front!

- As you see, I gave my
word, but the discipline

of the prison must be kept
no matter what the cost.

Let go of me, you damn fool, let go of me!

Keep still!

As you were!

Follow me!

- Dearest nephew.

- My nephew.

- I have never asked you for anything.

- I...

- Have never asked you for anything.

- Never...

- I have never asked you for anything.

- Anything,

- But it's that now I need it very much.

- In another week, I'll be out free.

The stupid judge acquitted me.

- What will your wife say?

- What do I care?

The bitch took another
man three years ago.

Now the judge says I'm innocent.

- Wait a minute.

You write it however you like.

The main thing is that he sends the money.

- And what do you want the money for?

I want to buy the guitar
from the negro smith.

- I've heard that it's really marvelous

to witness the way that these
men live in this prison.

- You're very lucky because until now,

no woman has ever entered this prison.

- What an honor.

- Why are they beaten like that?

- They aren't really beaten.

They are often able to break the rivet

they have on their feet or their wrists

that closes the irons.

They find many ingenious ways to do it.

Sometimes they fasten
their arms with a new clasp

that they make out of a piece of metal,

like a tin plate or a big nail.

And that's what the guard is doing.

Making sure that the irons sound the same.

It's a way to prevent escapes.

- What is that, Colonel?

- The inmates also have an orchestra,

something that proves the
cheerfulness of their lives here.

They sing and dance happily in prison.

Captain, bring the orchestra.

- Yes Colonel.

- All the orchestra, outside.

- Where are you going?

That piece of junk guitar
was playing in the band.


Come on!

Not you, bagged queens.

- Stupid fools!

Don't you know how to play anything else?

- Leave them alone!

I'm gonna dance for them.

- Then get down on your knees,

because you don't deserve
that a woman dances for you.

Bend your knee down!

Quiet down.

- Just six months ago, this
letter arrived for you.

Take it.

- Here are the a hundred
pesos you asked for.

Now give me the guitar.

- I'll tell you the real truth.

I was only joking.

I love it more than my life.

- No, you weren't joking.

You told me a hundred
pesos and here they are.

- Keep your word to him.

- All right, I'll keep my word, as I said.

You want a handkerchief too?

- No, you keep the
handkerchief for yourself.

Thank you.

Finally I'll be able to live in peace.

You instrument of the devil.

- The letter.

It's been years since I've
had the honor of seeing you,

Colonel Vargas.

- So it has.

Not since the times in military school

in the Republic of Chile.

- Whiskey, Colonel?

- No thank you.

The president has sent you this.

- I can't believe this.

That bastard of a president
of plainly accuses me

of beatings and killings of the prisoners.

- It's that the family of Jose Barientos

heard that he died of a beating
and was thrown in the sea.

And since they're
friends of the president-

- No one is assassinated here!

As for Jose Barientos, he was
killed while trying to escape,

and I have it recorded in the book!

He and all the others
who suffer the same fate.

- Accident and or not,
the truth is I was given

the task of notifying you
that the General President

of the Republic as ordered me to take

immediate command of the island,

and that you're to present
yourself at headquarters

tomorrow morning.

- Tell that old asshole of your general

that on this island, I'm in command!

- Gentlemen.


- You'll be sorry for this.

I swear you're crazy, Benancio!

- Your mother will be the sorry one

to have borne you if you return here!

Tell this to the president,
that as of today,

this island is a free republic!

- The colonel.
- About face!

Present arms!

- I speak to all of you, my beloved sons,

to bring the good tidings
today to one and all

that I, Benancio Salvatiera Lopez,

colonel of the first
regiment of the cavalry,

commandant of the
penitentiary of this island,

I say this before some brainless idiot

starts to imagine that I'm in the military

for the fun of it.

At this moment, with the
help of the good lord,

and the almighty the
inspiration of my conscience,

I declare freedom,
sovereignty, and independence

for this island...

And I proclaim it a free republic!

I named myself president,
warning that if anyone

disagrees with this nomination,

that means you, the jackals of the guard,

executioners of the slaughterhouse,

slaves to the uniform.

The same goes for you, my beloved sons,

the swindlers and
assassins, rapists, maniacs,

sodomites, thieves,
criminals, degenerates,

locked in here by order of a
government of despotic tyranny.

Speak up now, because
I'll hold court martial

for him for treason against
the new-formed state

to be shot at once!

And now, through the
faculty of my new powers

as your president of the republic,

from this moment on, I forbid
any form whatever of slavery.

The penitenture of this
island is now dead!

Long live the republic!

I declare all of you the founders

of the newly-formed republic,
and I accept with great joy

the offer you have made me to
be the very first president.

I wish to repeat...

That if anyone does not agree with this,

they should make it known at
once and be sent to be shot!

All the prisoners are now free men.

But any one citizen who wishes to abandon

this island without
permission from the council

of the general's staff will be shot!

Now repeat after me.

Viva la republica!


- Viva me!

Long live me!

- No, you idiots!

Viva General Benancio!

Viva General Benancio!

- General.

That's not bad.

That gives me the same
rank as a stupid president.

And because the title expresses
the wishes of the people,

I accept.

- Come out.

You're free by orders of General Benancio.

- I got so accustomed to this
damn thing, I'm gonna miss it.

It's the same for all of us.

- Who's the officer who knows
about boats and sailing?

I name you minister of the Navy.

You'll answer to me with your life

for the five boats that we possess.

- Yes, Mr. President.

- Lieutenant.

I name you minister of defense.

Train the prisoners, but don't issue arms.

- Yes, Mr. President.

- One of the prisoners was
formerly a school teacher.

I've been thinking about naming him

minister of education and foreign affairs.

Locate him.

His name is Nicano.

As of this moment, you will
occupy the honored post

of minister of education
and foreign affairs

of our independent republic.

See that he has the proper clothes.

- Come on.

- Colonel Benancio has
gone off his rocker,

and it's imperative we take him prisoner.

- He has all the inmates on his side.

They don't count.

Even if that were so, we've sworn

our loyalty to the president.

We'll arrest him.

Have your arms ready.

If it's necessary, we'll have to kill him,

and all those who are with him.

- Stay where you are
or I'll have you shot.

I accuse you of insubordination
and planning a rebellion

in a state of war.

You will be shot as
traitors whenever I please.

Take them to the guard
house and lock them up.

- No!

- For spying.

Sneaking, informing, and betraying,

and loyalty to the new government,
I appointed you captain.

Your very first mission will
be to design and manufacture

medals to be used for decorating you

and all the brave soldiers in our forces

before every battle.

- The worst possible thing they could do

Was to take off the chains
and give us hope again.

- What's the use of our being free

if we're all poisoned and bitter inside?

- It's nearly 15 years now
that I haven't seen my sons.

- You have ample pause to bring about

the signing of a treaty
with the president.

In no moment must you show weakness,

and remember that a great army

on the brink of war is behind you.

The destiny of the fatherland
lies in your hands.

I propose a toast to the new republic.

Because I have never enjoyed
doing anything halfway, I...

Benancio Salvatyra
Lopez, elected president

by the freewill of all the people,

after much deep thinking
and studying conscientiously

the problem, have arrived
at the following conclusion.

It is necessary for us to
have our very own flag.

And who knows...

Even our own anthem.

- That crazy man is capable of turning

the prisoners against us to destroy us.

- Are you quite comfortable,
your excellency?

Minister of education and foreign affairs

of the independent republic,
you'll have to forgive me

and understand that matters of state

have kept me from receiving
you at the palace.

I was told that General
Benancio has sent you here

to tell me something about the revolution,

and you will see for
yourself what will happen

to that criminal.

I've already sent him my answer.

- I was sent here to report to you, sir,

about the reception of
beatings that awaited us,

and that he was going
to request permission

of Congress, because he wanted the honor

of coming to visit you.

- Was he serious?

Bring the cannon!

And put it over there!

And point it out that way!

Aim across the starboard bow.

- Turn it around.

Help me.

- It says 1000 meters.

- Then verify it to the right.


- Fire.

- Fire!

Cease firing.

- Come on!

Forward, everyone!

Get a move on!


- Lower the boat!

Come on, move in over there!

What are you waiting for?!

Here we are!

Disembark now!

Well, it looks like they surrendered.

Stupid cowards.

- This is our best chance.

The first thing that
Captain Astrua will do

when he gets out of prison is
put all of us in chains again.

- Yeah, Juanito, whatever you say.

On the other side of those mountains,

life is beautiful, and it's free.

- By direct order of your president,

no one is to pay any more
attention to Colonel Benancio,

and you are advised that if in 20 minutes

you don't surrender, all the prisoners

as well as the soldiers will
be blown to bits by the cannon.

For every one of you, our good president

has given his solemn oath
to forgive and pardon you.

Therefore, I ask for you
to put down your arms.

- Stop there, men!

Set fire to this whole side.

- You heard him.

Come on.

- Like snakes, let them burn.

- The fire will save us.

They won't be able to reach us.

- The wind's blowing this way.

- Captain!

There they go!

- The wind's beginning to blow hard.

We couldn't reach them even in the boat.

Tomorrow they'll be on one
of those little islands.

- If the sharks don't
decide to eat them tonight.

- Don't swim anymore.

Let the current pull you along.

- Where'll the current take us?

We'll come to the island of
, I would guess.

It's all over, Juanito, it's all over.

The life of the damned
that we were leading

will never be again.

- Never.

It'll never be again.

It's over.

It's all over now

- Two desperate men have
just escaped from the prison.

They're accused of committing many crimes.

They are very dangerous, and
capable of murdering anyone.

- The commander of the harbor patrol

hereby warns the public
against two escaped convicts.

For their capture dead or alive,

we offered the following reward.

Two pounds of rice,
three pounds of potatoes,

two pounds of coffee,
three pounds of sugar,

two pounds of cocoa powder,
one can of sardines,

10 packs of cigarettes,
one dozen boxes of matches,

and three silver pesos in cash.

- Keep going.

A bit farther and we'll be on the beach.

- Look, a shark.

- I see them.

Keep on swimming without missing a stroke.

Same rhythm.

Don't splash the water, we
mustn't attract their attention.

- Christian.


For three days now they
haven't brought any water.

Since you both escaped.

Since you both escaped,
haven't brought any water.

- How did you learn about our escape?

I heard the cannon yesterday,
the patrolled passed by.

But they didn't leave me any water or food

because they said you could
come and take it away from me.

Take it away from me.

I know I'm gonna die.

I'm gonna die.

I'm going to die.

I'm gonna die.

- Take hold of his leg.

I'm too weak to swim.

- It's better that you die in the sea.

And not here.

- This man was sentenced to be killed.

- I might at least have
some hope in the ocean.

If I remain here, there's
absolutely no hope for me.

- The problem is that the
blood will attract the sharks.

- It'll be better that way.

- We have some rotten shark meat with us

which usually keeps them away.

The waves were so strong
that we lost all of it.

- I'm going to put this marker here.

When the sun gets to it,
start swimming south,

and by then we should be able to reach

that island over there.

- Take him out.

On second thought, leave him where he is

so the sharks can finish with him.

Dead men don't interest me anyway.

It's a finish worthy of the bastards.

Two pounds of
rice, three pounds of potatoes,

two pounds of coffee,
three pounds of sugar,

two pounds of cocoa powder,
one can of sardines,

10 packs of cigarettes,
one dozen boxes of matches,

and three silver pesos in cash.

That's what life was worth for a convict

on the island of lonely men.

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