In the Fifteenth Century, France is a defeated and ruined nation after the One Hundred Years War against England. The fourteen years old farm girl Joan of Arc claims to hear voices from ... See full summary »
Francis L. Sullivan
Spain in the 1930s is the place to be for a man of action like Robert Jordan. There is a civil war going on and Jordan who has joined up on the side that appeals most to idealists of that era -- like Ernest Hemingway and his friends -- has been given a high-risk assignment up in the mountains. He awaits the right time to blow up a bridge in a cave. Pilar, who is in charge there, has an ability to foretell the future. And so that night she encourages Maria, a young girl ravaged by enemy soldiers, to join Jordan who has decided to spend the night under the stars. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
Only a handful of Spanish actors were used in the film. See more »
Early in the film when Gary Cooper's character Robert Jorden meets General Golz, Cooper's shadow can be seen on a wall in the background. In the straight-on angle, it's Cooper's shadow, but in another angle it's obvious another person was used to create the shadow. When Cooper places his hand on his chin, the shadow's move is late by a second. See more »
If you don't love me, I'll love you enough for both of us.
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Opening credits prologue: any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde: and therefore never send to know For Whom The Bell Tolls It tolls for thee.
The Spanish Civil war is a conflict that has seared itself upon the romantic idealist . It's good versus evil of fascists on one side and idealistic freedom fighters from all across the world fighting to save a democratic socialist Republic from the jackboot of Hitler , Mussolini and Franco . Of course much of this conflict has been romanticized . It's often forgotten that Joseph Stalin was supporting the Republican cause while following his own agenda and the leftists spent more time fighting amongst themselves rather than fighting the Falangists . Regardless of this I've always viewed it as good versus evil , an opinion reinforced by a conversation I once had with a Spanish workmate who was of " Marrano Converso " linage whose grandparents were murdered by the Franco regime . I told her gloomily that's the worst thing about the 21st Century - there's no crusades to go on , no chance of jumping on a plane and changing the world . Though later when I thought about it there is a modern day equivalent and that is young people joining the military in NATO countries knowing fine well they'll be serving in Afghanistan fighting against murderous jihadists . Was it not Orwell himself who described all tyrannies being " theocracies in nature " ?
Perhaps idealism gets the better of me and I have grown out of it because the opening scene of FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL has stayed with me since childhood . Two freedom fighters blow up a train , make their escape only for one of them to be wounded and he begs his comrade to shoot him . It's an impressive scene though its impact is negated having been done so many times in other films . I guess this was probably the first time I'd seen this type of scene and that's why it stayed with me . The mind of a child is very impressionable and idealistic
I'm afraid that my idealism towards this film has become somewhat revisionist after seeing it again as an adult. Not a lot happens in the movie which is composed of a handful of characters sitting on two or three sets of studio exteriors spouting clichéd melodramatic dialogue along with an annoying incidental score that never seems to go away . Interesting to note that the screenplay has most of its politics exercised and there's only one scene where the idealistic manly hero Robert Jordan played by Gary Cooper at his most wooden explaining the reason why he joined the good fight
This means you're a watching a film lacking in scope . When I say nothing much happens I mean this literally . Some people might appreciate the set design or cinematography but the film concentrates on the romance between Jordan and Maria and Jordan's abrasive relationship with the band of Gypsies . There's very little sense of time and place and I had to keep reminding myself that it's set in Spain in 1937. It's also a film that is very static and dated even to fans of Classic Hollywood like myself and someone would do better reading George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia than watching this Hollywood melodrama
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