Guernica (1951) Poster


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Before Hiroshima and Marienbad, there was Guernica
Galina14 April 2007
Criterion DVD "The Mystery of Picasso" (1956) also includes "Guernica", a short documentary directed in 1950 by Alain Resnais before any of his feature films. Picasso's "Guernica" is one of the most famous paintings of the 20th Century which was created by the artist in response to bombing and destroying the ancient Basque town of Guernica by German aviation on April 27 1937 during Spanish Civil War. The painting is a passionate protest against war as well as the fascinating work of art. Resnains' 13 minutes short film is based on paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Pablo Picasso from 1902 until 1949 including "Guernica" and is set against the ode written by French lyrical poet Paul Éluard and recited by Jacques Pruvost and María Casarès. In his early short film, Resnais already uses his famous jump cuts and cross-fades. "Guernica" is a valuable feature which goes well together with the marvelous "The Mystery of Picasso" and adds to understanding one of the most prolific and mysterious Artists of the last century.
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Sorry attempt
drystyx5 June 2011
To be fair, this isn't a high budget film, so I was generous in giving this a 3/10. There was no action, just visuals, like a slide show, and most of us are quite bored with slide shows, unless you have majestic scenery. There was no majestic scenery here. Some paintings of gorgeous women, and some paintings of other people, that was it.

The film is about a war atrocity, and I can forgive the low budget effects, but not the direction. It was poorly concocted. It turned into many minutes of tedium. And therein was the greatest goof. You can't make a full length film out of boring paintings, but anything over 2 minutes is insane. In fact, you can tell the story much better by merely compressing it into a minute. It's like those bible verses in Leviticus and Numbers that just repeat the same stuff over and over, and make the reader or listener know that the person who is delivering this message is attacking the reader, is trying to make the reader suffer, is trying to do something bad to the reader or listener, and therefore the creator of this piece loses the trust of any sane viewer. And that is a horrendous mistake.
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Dull and Unsatisfying
This is an odd little thing. It's a poem - not one I was particularly impressed by - over a bunch of images from various Picasso paintings. The images doesn't really do much for the poem, the poem doesn't do much for the paintings, and the paintings themselves fail to create any sort of narrative, either of the painting or of the event it was inspired by. Alain went on to make absolutely brilliant films, yet this one is both artsy yet artless. It's also a black and white film that features a lot of paintings that I suspect were originally in color.

Honestly, I think you could get a more interesting film by simply letting the camera rove over Guernica. I've never been a big fan of the painting (my girlfriend tells me it's vastly more impressive in person), but in the brief moments the film explored it, details were nicely brought out. I'm not saying I would have loved 15 minutes of a camera roving over a painting, but I think it would have been better than this.
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A lesson in art, history and humanity
filmreviews@web.de27 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Guernica" is a 13-minute black-and-white documentary short film from 1950, so this one had its 65th anniversary last year. The directors were Oscar winner Robert Hessens and Alain Resnais who brought a poem by Paul Éluard to the screen here. The title describes a city who was bombed to the ground by the Nazis in 1937 and the film tells us about this historic event and also what it meant to people like Pablo Picasso. A true tragedy. I must say I did not know (or remember) this attack although I was always curious about the years of Nazi reign, so it taught me something new about a subject I care for and that's always a great thing. The art aspect here did not interest me too much, but I quite liked María Casares' haunting narration, especially towards the end. This film deserves seeing and it's one of my favorites from Resnais.
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