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El mar (2000)

Unrated | | Drama, War | 14 April 2000 (Spain)
Two boys (Ramallo and Manuel) and a girl in the Spanish Civil War are involved in the death of other two boys, one killed, the other suicided. This terrible secret will be with them for all... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruno Bergonzini ...
Antònia Torrens ...
Sor Francisca
Hernán González ...
Juli Mira ...
Don Eugeni
David Lozano ...
Manuel Tur,nen
Nilo Zimmerman ...
Andreu Ramallo, nen (as Nilo Mur)
Tony Miquel Vanrell ...
Paul Inglada, nen
Victoria Verger ...
Francisca, nena
Sergi Moreno ...
Julià Ballester, nen
Llorenç Santamaria ...
Falangista (as Llorenç Santamaría)
Maria del Mar Bonet ...
Mare Manuel
Blai Llopis ...
Pare Manuel


Two boys (Ramallo and Manuel) and a girl in the Spanish Civil War are involved in the death of other two boys, one killed, the other suicided. This terrible secret will be with them for all their lives. Years pass and they meet in a hospital for tuberculosis treatment. She is now a nun, Ramallo is a thief and Manuel is obsessed by religion. Reality is too hard to feel, only the sea should be the best place, where all is quiet... Written by Dul dpueyos@itpsp.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


Unrated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

14 April 2000 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

El mar  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

Dark as the Grave Wherein my Friend is Laid
25 May 2002 | by (La Rioja, Spain) – See all my reviews

This is a dark movie, indeed; sinister in its telling and setting; maccabre in its doing and making; chilling from beginning to end. How much or how well or how closely this film reflects Balearic revengefulness during the Spanish Civil War or the consequent aftermath in the forties, may be exaggerated or a little doubtful; that such vengeousness existed should not be doubted, not only on Mallorca, but in other parts of Spain. However, rather than revenge or other forms of hatred, we should bear in mind that three young children witnessed firing squads and even their own friends killing each other and that this horrible secret would stay with them right to the bitter end.

A harsh, crude story told with a relentless but highly controlled sledge-hammer. The psychological inferences in the development of character antagonisms between the main actors is an appalling affront to the viewers sensibilities, with only the nun (Antónia Torrens) lending that slightly angelical relief that might suggest some connection with a more stable reality of 'normal' human behaviour. But it is Ramallo (Roger Casamajor) and Manuel (Bruno Bergonzini) who are the centre-piece of the unmitigatingly fatidic outcome, as they journey through tense and traumatic developments, including a homosexual love-making scene that took two months of preparation (RTVE 24th May, 2002: ensuing debate on the film with the director, producer and the two leading male actors).

Villaronga's direction is taught and studied, meticulous, apparently aware that the treatment of the subject would either make a film or something absolutely unstomachable. He seems to feel that dealing with a book which leads into a dejected black abysm would only survive on screen so long as he had iron-fisted control over each minute detail in each scene. In this we can say he just about succeeded. But I would not choose to see this film again, as I would with '99.9' (qv).

As well as Casamajor's and Bergonzini's decidedly determined efforts in playing their parts, notable in some of the incredibly delicate and difficult scenes, Simón Andreu as Alcántara was up to the mark. Even from the younger children in the earlier parts of the film, we can see how everyone was bent on making Villaronga's project work.

If it was not for the music, things might have gone off course: Javier Navarrete's score underlines the moody sombre texturising of the story-line, as those tragically eloquent deep bass sweeps from the Czech orchestra admirably serve as if they were another physical character in the telling of these almost traumatic events in this almost traumatic film.

The participation of Ángela Molina did not serve for much, and María del Mar Bonet's appearance only suggested that she has to appear in anything truly Balearic. However, she should be remembered as an important pioneer of Mediterranean folk songs, as she has made numerous records of songs from the Balearic Islands, Tunis and even Turkey and which stand among my favourites in my collection.

A difficult film to make; a difficult film to watch; this is especially the case for non-Spanish viewers who may not have too much idea of the atrocities and the resulting distrustful antipathy that surged in human souls sixty-odd years ago in this country in general, and, in this case in Mallorca specifically. Not recommended for the squeamish; not even recommended for those accustomed to the barbariousness of such 'heroes' in 'violent' films perpetrated by Seagal, Willis, Schwarzenegger and such ilk, as 'El Mar' has absolutely nothing to do with such silly kids' stuff: this film IS violent on the senses.

Added May 2007: IMDb voters give 7,5 which is just about right: and I abhore gratuitous violence in other more frivolous productions.

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