Juan (Beloved Mother)

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Julito de la Cruz as Juan: a preteen boy with light skin tone and brown hair. He has a blank look on his face. He's wearing a blue sweatshirt.
Portrayed by Julito de la Cruz
Appears in Mater amatísima ( tl. Beloved Mother)
Year 1980

Juan is a major character in the Spanish psychological movie Mater amatísima (tl. Beloved Mother).

Character creation

Actor Julito de la Cruz, who portrays Juan, is autistic. [1] This makes it among the earliest instances of an autistic character being portrayed by an autistic actor.


Juan's mother, Clara, is highly possessive of her son. When medical professionals recommend he be institutionalized, she instead keeps him at home and withdraws right along with him. In the end, she decides to kill Juan using an overdose of tranquilizing medications. While this happens, Disney's Pinocchio plays on the television, specifically the scene where he turns from a puppet into a real boy.


Within the movie, Juan is described as having "signs of autism". He is also referred to with the terms "psychotic" and "precocious schizophrenia" (esquizofrénico precoz).[note 1] Actress Victoria Abril, who portrays Juan's mother, also describes the character as "an autistic child".[2]


  1. "Precocious schizophrenia" is an older term for what would eventually become known as autism. Likewise, the use of "psychotic" in the context of children often referred to children we now understand to be autistic.


  1. "Mater Amatisima". Quinzaine des cinéastes. Retrieved 2024-04-12.
  2. RTVE (2017-03-14). "'Mater amatísima', presentación | El reflejo de la mujer en 'Historia de nuestro cine'". YouTube (in Spanish). 4 minutes 30 seconds. Retrieved 2024-04-12.

External links