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The Villagers of Sierra de Gredos

rai dws villagers of sierra gredosSeries Disappearing World Series
Director Peter Carr, William Kavanagh
Country/Production UK
Release 1989
Length 52 mins
Format Colour / DVD / PAL / All region
Location Spain, Navalguijo, Sierra de Gredos of Central Spain / Europe

Order No RAI-200.193
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The 130 villagers of Navalguijo in the Sierra de Gredos of Central Spain live in a village perched high in the mountains and they face an extreme climate with very cold winters and hot summers. The soil is acid and poor, and the steep slopes and short growing season mean that agriculture cannot provide a living. Collectively the villagers own summer pastures high in the mountains, and individually they hold smaller autumn pastures. With access to winter pastures across the mountains in the region of Extremadura, they are able to maintain a large herd of beef cattle, which form their main source of wealth and which are their dearest possessions. To make this film, the crew joined the village men on their trek to Extremadura, when they drive their cattle down the mountains. This cattle drive is a mixture of hard work and holiday, with passing round of leather wine bottles, story-telling and evening stopovers at favourite inns punctuating the long march. This film portrays a society whose ideals of village co-operation and the rigid and efficient organisation of tasks have given the village a strong sense of identity over generations. It remains to be seen if this sense of identity survives the breakdown of their isolation from the outside world as tourists discover `hidden Spain' and better communications and roads bring increasing contact with the rest of the country. S. Brandes, 1975. Migration, Kinship and Community: Tradition in a Spanish Village. Academic Press, London. [Examines a village not far from the one in the film, but whose economy and style of life are very different.] G. Brenan, 1957. South from Granada. Hamish Hamilton, London. J. Pitt-Rivers, 1971. The People of the Sierra. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. [Although the book deals with Andalusia and not with Old Castille where the film is set, it is considered a classic of Spanish anthropology.] S. Tax-Freeman, 1970. Neighbours: The Social Contract in a Castillian Hamlet. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. S. Tax-Freeman, 1979. The Pasiegos: Spaniards in No-man's Land. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. [Deals with cattle herders in Santander whose way of life is quite different from that of the villagers in the film.]

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