Carol, a twelve-year-old Spanish-American girl from New York, travels with her mother to Spain in the spring of 1938, at the height of the Civil War. Separated from her beloved father, ...
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Carol, a twelve-year-old Spanish-American girl from New York, travels with her mother to Spain in the spring of 1938, at the height of the Civil War. Separated from her beloved father, Carol arrives in her mother's home village and transforms the secretive family environment. Her innocence and rebellious nature drive her at first to reject a world that is at once new and foreign. But she soon journeys into adulthood through a friendship with Maruja, the village teacher, and a young local boy, Tomiche. Written by
War And Other Inequalities As Seen Through A Child's Eyes
Some unsuspecting films carry a message that resonates in the hours and days after viewing. Such is the case for CAROL'S JOURNEY (EL VIAJE DE CAROL), a beautifully crafted 2002 film from Spain based on the novel 'A boca de noche' by Ángel García Roldán who also adapted the book as a screenplay. War and its consequences are not new subject matter for films, but when that war theme plays in the background as a subtle driving force to develop characters (especially children) who must face adult life influenced by the games of adults, the result is a different and more tender examination of the coming of age film genre.
Carol (Clara Lago) is a 12-year-old Spanish American youngster from New York who with her critically ill mother Aurora (María Barranco) returns to her Aurora's home in 1938 at the height of the Spanish Civil War, a home that has been left deserted by her father Don Amalio (Álvaro de Luna) since his wife's death. Carol's father Robert (Ben Temple) is a fighter pilot who has sided with the Republicans against Franco and is rarely with his family. Aurora has a past: she left her lover Alfonso (Alberto Jiménez) to marry Robert, and Alfonso in turn married Aurora's cold sister Dolores (Lucina Gil). Carol is an independent girl who remains aloof to all but her grandfather Don Amalio until she meets others her age but not of her 'class': Tomiche (Juan José Ballesta) and his two friends at first resent Carol, but as events develop Carol and Tomiche are bonded by what feels like the first awakenings of love. When Aurora dies of her illness, Carol must live with Alfonso and Dolores and their daughter Blanca (Luna McGill), yet turns to her grandfather for support and to her mother's best friend and teacher Maruja (the always radiant Rosa Maria Sardà) to understand the disparity between classes and the senseless war that keeps her beloved father from her side. Through a series of incidents Carol and Tomiche learn the rigors of becoming adults, facing more traumas in a brief period of the war than most of us experience in a lifetime. The ending, though sad, is uplifting as Carol's journey to maturity is complete.
The film is shot in Galicia and Portugal and contains some extraordinarily beautiful settings captured with gentle sensitive lighting by cinematographer Gonzalo F. Berridi and enhanced by the musical score by Bingen Mendizábal. Director Imanol Uribe understands the fine line separating pathos from bathos, and in electing to concentrate the story on the children involved, he makes an even stronger statement about the futility and cruelty of war. The cast is exceptional: the stars clearly are young Clara Lago and Juan José Ballesta, but they are supported by the fine veteran actors in the adult roles. This is a visually stunning work with a lasting message and should find a much larger audience than it has to this date. Grady Harp
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