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Salvador del Solar,
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Margarita Rosa de Francisco,
Set in 18th Century Spain and purportedly based on true facts, this rather interesting film might be classified as drama, or thriller, or romance. However, there is another peculiar reading: you can clearly see how late medieval craftsmen set about making polychromed altar-pieces and so on for the interiors of churches, for example. So added on to the story line - which in itself is simple enough - this film brings out a few glimpses back some 250 years.
A few craftsmen are contracted to building an altar-piece, with the luck that the specialist drawer is a very beautiful Angie Cepeda, in a remote village's church, which, as legend has it, covers the entrance to a secret cave. The fact that the leading lady goes by the same name as the church's saint - Cecilia - may or may not have anything to do with the tale. But it does not matter: as the film progresses you get to see some beautiful countryside in the province of Soria, just the other side of the mountains, less than two hours by car in most cases from where I am now, one of the most depopulated areas of the Iberian peninsular. You see real pieces of medieval history in the stone houses of villages up in the sierras. From the delightful stone-streeted Yanguas to the heavily-wooded areas of Covaleda and Navaleno, to the historical city of Almazán, as well as other parts of the River Duero, the excellent photography helps the story along.
As the mishaps and misfortunes succeed each other, and the local priest becomes more and more infuriated, the young couple fall pleasantly in love, which you knew they would anyway, and find the secret cave, which you also knew they would. So no surprises, apart from the attractive art-form of telling the story, the interesting historical background, good photography, and - in my case - being filmed in places which I know so well.
Worth the hundred or so minutes of your time if you like out-of-the ordinary story telling.
FOOTNOTE: The Spanish spoken is easy neutral language in the most part, seldom difficult to understand, and thus is a good exercise for students learning Spanish. And some of the dialogues are really quite good, such that I recommend this film especially to people learning this language.
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