Close Up

19 February 2023: Close-Up on Danny Lyon Programme 2


Programme 2

Danny Lyon, 1971, 52 min

"Llanito is the first of Lyon's trio of films shot in and around Bernalillo, New Mexico, and it is also the screen debut of Willie Jaramillo. The twelve-year-old boy acts as a guiding force for Lyon and his audience, reading out the names on gravestones and relating the stories of the people buried there. He is the focal point of a group of mostly young men with whom Lyon would remain friends and continue to document for the next several decades. The film meanders through the town and among its inhabitants, passing between groups of people at times with the keen instinct of a desert eagle and at others in a drunken stupor, stumbling from one scene into the next with the visceral and irrational inevitability of a gravitational pull." – Harvard Film Archive

Little Boy
Danny Lyon, 1977, 54 min

"The Little Boy bomb dropped on the people of Hiroshima was designed and tested in New Mexico, not far from Bernalillo, a depressed, ramshackle town north of Albuquerque where Danny Lyon constructed an adobe house for his family in the early 1970s. A protracted interview airing a man's wildest hopes and concerns about nuclear energy, played out in double exposure with scenes of the nearby National Atomic Museum – where a pair of tourists takes snapshots by a model warhead, a crew of airmen attends to a taxiing bomber, an American flag ripples, and a lanky, shock-blonde boy eats a bright red apple – form the core of a film with the same name; but its flesh takes the form of another little boy, Willie Jaramillo, a friend of Lyon's who previously appeared in his 1971 film Llanito. At age eighteen, he has just been released from prison for a series of minor offenses. As Lyon pounds his beat around town, asking friends and neighbours about Willie or about themselves, the film jumps back in time to scenes from Willie's childhood, now idyllic next to his current troubles, and the history of one man's life emerges as a fact of greater significance than the atom bomb itself." – Harvard Film Archive

Screening as part of our Close-Up on Danny Lyon programme