Spring 1936, a young unemployed communist, David, leaves his hometown Liverpool to join the fight against fascism in Spain. He joins an international group of Militia-men and women, the ... See full summary »
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Spring 1936, a young unemployed communist, David, leaves his hometown Liverpool to join the fight against fascism in Spain. He joins an international group of Militia-men and women, the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista). After being wounded he goes to Barcelona, where he decides to join another group of fighters. They remain in Barcelona and end up fighting other anti-fascist groups. David is disappointed and decides to go back to his old band. Written by
Walter de Rijk <W.C.A.de.Rijk@let.uva.nl>
Is a film's literary antecedent normally so transparent?
... When it is not even acknowledged?
A left-wing lad goes to Spain, joins the otherwise totally obscure Marxist POUM militia, and experiences at first hand serious political differences with the Communists and their competing militia. Well, the lad does not actually get wounded in the throat during the course of the movie, but otherwise this is the biography of Eric Blair (George Orwell), as described in his book "Homage to Catalonia".
In spite of the single source cribbing, I did like this film in general since films about Spain in English, other than Canadian ones with Donald Sutherland as Dr. Norman Bethune, are few and far between.
It was wonderful to see a priest being shot in this film -- I don't mean it that way! -- since anti-clericalism was an important element both in the Spanish Civil War and in the French Revolution although it rarely seems to be mentioned much in the English-speaking world. The people in both countries felt the burden of traditional, oppressive, hypocritical Catholicism, just like the kind we had here in the Province of Quebec before the Quiet Revolution of the 1960's. At the other end of the political scale, the poor treatment of priests in Spain was a motivating force for Fascists in France to join the Charlemagne division of the Waffen SS to defend the cause of Christianity, or so The Sorrow and the Pity attests.
The Spanish war was about liberation from autocracy amidst a blizzard of competing, doctrinaire, left political philosophies. That was a really exciting time to be politically active, and there is a great scene of grassroots socialism in action at a town meeting.
The film has a rough-hewn, half-finished look characteristic of Ken Loach, but don't let that put you off. Anyone who can get worked up about the sometimes microscopic, casuistical differences between the Grits and the Tories, or the Democrats and the GOP, or New Labour and those other Tories, or Labor and National, or the SDP and the CDU, etc. should really love a movie, and a conflict, where the political spectrum is so broad for a change. Political animals of whatever bent should get a kick out of it.
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