An elderly man returns to Spain after visiting the US during the Gold Rush and losing his fortune. He returns because his son has died leaving two daughters, and the son has left a note stating that one of the two is a bastard child. The grandfather hopes to find out which is his true granddaughter. Written by
The Grandfather Fernando Fern Gomez This film deserves wider audience than it received in 1999
The Grandfather (1999) El Abuelo This film directed by José Luis Garci, who won an Academy Award in 1983 for "To Begin Again,". Based on Benito Perez Galdos novel, the film that comments on how families are built by love, not blood. Love is the only bond that can hold a family together, & this movie proves it. When an aging, bitter, turn-of-the-century Spanish aristocrat (Fernando Fernán-Gómez) learns that his son has died, he travels back to his family estate in Spain to confront his detested daughter-in-law (Cayetana Guillén Cuervo), whom he suspects of bearing him an illegitimate granddaughter. But which one is it? Which granddaughter will gain his blessing, & which his curse? This once powerful and still proud patriarch finds it hard to deal with the shameful and humiliating treatment he receives from the townsfolk. As his ego is battered, he slowly mellows. His friendship with Pio Coronado (Rafael Alonso) improves his mental health.(the old teacher who has had serious thoughts about suicide). In the last stages of his life, the Count learns a thing or two about time, love, friendship, and blood ties. He is free at last to cave in to the impulses and desires of his heart. While the film is a deeply touching story & contains very lush beautiful cinematography this movies moves at a snail's pace & is very long at 145 minutes. The great Spanish character actor Fernando Fernan-Gomez (Belle Epoque) won a Spanish Goya award for his part in this film as aged Count of Albrit. His creaky performance is a standout; excellent well really- fantastic he is in this role characterizing The Grandfather. The film is just a little too slow & constrained. In addition to the strong performances, the film's cinematography is absolutely beautiful. The lush & verdant Spanish landscape is the backdrop, the rural scenery sweeps of Spain is just a beauty to behold. The stunning cinematography literally makes turn-of-the-century Spain appear as if it's just been stolen from an famous summer painting. In 1999, The Grandfather deserved its the Spanish nomination for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film. It also received a dozen Spanish Goya nominations. This is the third time Galdos' novel has been brought to the screen, & this one is well worth the effort to watch. My main comment would be how poor the (Spanish) dubbing was. It was a very bad choice to have the two small girls voices dubbed in by fake sounding adults who do not sound like a child at all. There were consistent problems with the voice dubbing & synchronizing throughout the movie. I watched the movie in Spanish with English Subtitles. I hope this film get a wider audience than it had in 1999 it is really almost an epic of a movie and extremely beautiful and interesting. The Grandfather magically transports us to a time and a way of life that have long since disappeared. However it is a tad boring as it is long and slow but art film lovers hang in there and watch this !! I still liked the movie a lot!
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