The Holy Innocents (Spain), directed by Mario Camus, is based on a novel by Miguel Delibes. The setting is rural Spain during the 60s. Don Pedro supervises the large farm estate owned by a rich marchioness who resides in Madrid. Paco and his family, a son and two daughters (one of them a brain damaged cripple), live on the estate in a small stone hut.
The film slowly reveals how this laborer and his loved ones including Azarias, the feeble minded brother of Paco's wife are exploited and patronized by Don Pedro and Ivan, the son of the marchioness. The children grow up shamed by the shabby treatment of their parents and scornful of the wealth, power and sexual games of those who control their destinies.
Francisco Rabal, who plays Azarias, won the Best Acting Award at Cannes for his performance in The Holy Innocents. He is the only character in the story in touch with the land and its rhythms and mysteries. His love for a pet goshawk callously shot down by Ivan fuels the one genuine protest against the manipulations of the upper class. Rabal is reminiscent of Zorba the Greek he is a robust individualist whose very presence on the estate in an offense to the effete, vain and emotionally bankrupt landowners.