For Moncho, it's an idyllic year: he starts school, he has a wonderful teacher, he makes a friend in Roque, he begins to figure out some of the mysteries of Eros, and, with his older ...
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El Bola, a 12 year old boy a.k.a. "Pellet" is a 12 year old boy raised in a violent and sordid environment. Embarrassed by his family life, he avoids becoming close to classmates. The ... See full summary »
Juan José Ballesta,
Ourense, Spain, 1940. Every time that Elena locks the door, she locks her secrets. Her husband Ricardo spend years hidden in his house with his children (Elenita and Lorenzo), trying to ... See full summary »
True story of thirteen totally normal young women that suffered harsh questioning and were put in prison under made up charges of helping the rebellion against Franco back in the 1940's. ... See full summary »
Emilio Martínez Lázaro
Pilar López de Ayala,
At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the nun Maria is forced to flee her convent. She takes refuge in a brothel, until it is liberated by a woman's anarchist group. Maria joins the ... See full summary »
God decides to send another son to the earth to save the world. Jesus Christ disagrees because in such a case the history should be rewritten. To solve the dispute they decide to organise ... See full summary »
José Luis Cuerda
Fernando Fernán Gómez,
Maria, whose parents live in the country, cannot stand her father's authoritarian ways and moves to the city. She finds a job as a cleaner and tries to survive in a wretched apartment in ... See full summary »
One winter night, Pilar runs away from home. With her, she takes only a few belongings and her son, Juan. Antonio soon sets out to look for her. He says Pilar is his sunshine, and what's more, "She gave him her eyes"...
Madrid, post-Spanish Civil War. Sisters Hortensia and Pepita are involved with an underground guerrilla movement. Hortensia is captured and forced to deliver her baby in jail. Pepita tries ... See full summary »
For Moncho, it's an idyllic year: he starts school, he has a wonderful teacher, he makes a friend in Roque, he begins to figure out some of the mysteries of Eros, and, with his older brother, a budding saxophone player, he makes a trip with the band from their town in Galicia. But it's also the year that the Spanish Republic comes under fire from Fascist rebels. Moncho's father is a Republican as is the aging teacher, Don Gregorio. As sides are drawn and power falls clearly to one side, the forces of fear, violence, and betrayal alter profoundly what should be the pleasure of coming of age. Written by
Innocence lost to knowledge, freedom destroyed by tradition
I've been watching a lot of films in Spanish lately, trying to prepare for a course I will be teaching on Love in Hispanic Cinema. I'm searching for the film I can show that will exemplify love of country... and while I don't think this is the one I'm looking for, it may work insofar as the "love of Spain" expressed resonates with the same propagandistic tones similar expressions of "patriotism" so often do.
I won't bore you with the basics of plot nor repeat what everyone else has already said as you can read the intro and a hand-full of other posts and know enough. I will tell you that this is a subtle film. We in the US are so used to being hit over the head by our movies that watching this film is like feeling a soft breeze. It's oh so quietly disquieting.
I have found interesting the posts reviewing this film that criticize the "meanderings" of the plot --how far the dispersed elements take us away from the core message. But I ask, what is not childhood but a collection of fascinating and disconnected pieces of a puzzle that we can't put together quite yet. Music, love, family, sex, food, school, friends, women and girls, books, nature, teachers and grown men -all equally interesting and engaging to a young boy. But when he's all of maybe seven, what does he know about how they all relate to each other? What do any of us really know about how all the pieces of our lives fit together, or what they mean?
I especially enjoyed the sad quality of all the varied losses interwoven in the greater story; they tempered the otherwise hopeful mood of the film. The overall effect on me was that I understood that loss is comprised not only of one deep cut but of a thousand little ones too. It wasn't only the dream of a Republican and free Spain that was lost; it was much more that was lost as well.
The film-making here is exquisite too, like a butterfly, so beautiful visually; "La lengua de las mariposas" is so well executed that it truly feels real. There were no moments when I said to myself "oh, come on," as I do when I feel I've been taken for too stupid to figure things out for myself, when everything has been made too obvious, predigested for me by the movie makers.
Amazingly the child actor is believable at all times -never too precocious, never too coy. An excellent performance from a child actor is always a delight. See the Argentine film "Valentin" (2002) for another.
Others write that the ending is shocking, too abrupt and that the audience is neither prepared for it nor guided towards it. For me that is the perfect ending because it replicates the shock of the civil war to the Spaniards, and the shock adult violence inflicts upon childhood. For me, the abrupt ending was the radical interruption traditional Spain forced upon everyone's future. Never mind, as one post suggested that in Republican Spain the communists had taken over and democracy was no longer in effect. Democracy here is the exotic Chinese beauty Andrés falls in love with, a fantasy out of reach, silenced and taken hostage by a brute.
See this film and decide for yourself.
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