“THE SHEPHERD”— A Psychological Drama


A Psychological Drama

Amos Lassen

Jonathan Cenzual Burley’s “The Shepherd” is a psychological drama and a parable of corporate greed. Anselmo is a taciturn shepherd who lives a spartan life on a small farm in the Spanish plains. He is approached by a construction company looking to buy his land but when he casually refuses, results occur through the community. It seems everyone around him has a stake in the development and increasingly extreme opposition from his neighbors leads to bitter conflict.

He doesn’t realize that his life is about to be turned upside down. The owners of the neighboring lands have all agreed to sell and Anselmo’s refusal jeopardizes the whole deal. The others are blinded by greed and determined to do whatever it takes to make him change his mind.

Anselmo’s  dog Pillo and sheep are his only company aside from a few friends in town. When Espanax Construction company pays him a visit with an offer to buy his house and land on which they plan to build a new residential complex, his life changes. Julian, Paco and Ignacio, are eager to unload their plots and homes in return for the construction company’s cash and this brings about a conflict with Anselmo’s unwillingness to sell; he soon learns that if Espanax cannot purchase his land, they will not buy the surrounding plots either.

Unbeknownst to Anselmo, Julian has entered into a dodgy agreement for Espanax to finance his deeply indebted slaughterhouse business using his house as a down payment and in return he is to make sure that the land owners sell, no matter what it takes. As the film’s biblical theme begins to unfold, forces quickly conspire against Anselmo as Julian grows more desperate to save his house and business.

A wonderful opening sequence establishes the character of Anselmo, as he leaves his isolated house in the middle of the arid plains of Salamanca, to go out with his beloved dog to take the sheep to pasture in the early morning light.  The peace of this place is threatened when the property developers decide to buy up land in the area to build a new town. The whole rural community of the area is turned upside down by the destructive nature of corporate greed.

We get a message against avarice and the abuse by those who feel entitled to step on those that are small.