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Another Spanish movie about the 1936 Civil War. This time we're told
about the story of Carol (lovely played by débutant Clara Lago), a
little girl which comes to live to a little Spanish village from New
York. It is such an initiating trip, and soon she'll find about the
injustices of the human race, their stupid fights and conflicts, their
Imanol Uribe makes his best film since "Días Contados" (1994) with such a sober pulse, a beautiful photography, and a nice script. He tries not to take part in the conflict, he just shows us some facts and let us decide (ok, the facts are explicit enough to make us decide in which band are we in) and he takes a huge advantage of the presence and the freshness of the young starring couple: Clara Lago and Juan José Ballesta.
A well cared production.
My rate: 7/10
CAROL'S JOURNEY is a pleasure to watch for so many reasons. The acting of Clara Lago is simply amazing for someone so young, and she is one of those special actors who can say say much with facial expressions. Director Imanol Urbibe presents a tight and controlled film with no break in continuity, thereby propelling the plot at a steady pace with just enough suspense to keep one wondering what the nest scene will bring. The screenplay of Angel Garcia Roldan is story telling at its best, which, it seems, if the major purpose for films after all. The plot is unpredictable, yet the events as they unravel are completely logical. Perhaps the best feature of this film if to tell a story of the Spanish Civil War as it affected the people. It was a major event of the 20th century, yet hardly any Americans know of it. In fact, in 40 years of university teaching, I averaged about one student a semester who had even heard of it, much less any who could say anything comprehensive about it--and the overwhelming number of students were merit scholars, all of which speaks to the enormous amount of censorship in American education. So, in one way, this film is a good way to begin a study of that event, keeping in mind that when one thread is pulled a great deal of history is unraveled. The appreciation of this film is, therefore, in direct relation to the amount of one's knowledge. To view this film as another coming of age movie is the miss the movie completely. The Left Elbow Index considers seven aspects of film-- acting, production sets, character development, plot, dialogue, film continuity, and artistry--on a scale for 10 for very good, 5 for average, and 1 for needs help. CAROL'S JOURNEY is above average on all counts, excepting dialogue which is rated as average. The LEI average for this film is 9.3, raised to a 10 when equated to the IMDb scale. I highly recommend this film for all ages.
Drama with historical and romantic elements ; including enjoyable
performances and adequate set design . Carol (Clara Lago), a
twelve-year-old Spanish-American girl , daughter of a Spanish mother
(Maria Barranco) and an American father , travels to Spain in the
spring of 1938 in the company of his mummy . Separated from her father
who is helping to fight Franco's military regime near Madrid , he is a
pilot in the International Brigades who she adores, as her arrival in a
little town transforms maternal family environment full of secrets and
dangers . She soon journeys into adulthood through a friendship with
Maruja (Rosa Maria Sarda) , the village teacher and forming bonds with
old and new friends. Armed with a rebellious nature, opposes life
lessons from his grandfather (Alvaro De Luna) and his love for Tomiche
(Juan Jose Ballesta) will open doors to a world of adult feelings that
will make her trip turns into a tender, vital and unforgettable
experience but also tragic . The screen livens up as love blossoms
between Carol and Tomiche and as a love of daughter for a daddy becomes
evident and finally risked .
Imanol Uribe , also writes the script along with with Angel Roldan , novel's author titled "A Boca De Noche" , filmed in his usual formal and stylistic scholarship , without leaving a trace the thought-provoking issues , in terms of dramatic and narrative excitement . The flick can be defined as a realistic tragicomedy , a romantic history , a historic fresco and a socio-political fable . The main problem has to face "Carol's journey", beyond not being able to avoid falling into the politic pamphlet is precisely derived from the coldness of its staging . Because the story needs a vibration more real than the one offered in this sometimes slow-moving flick , though also contains humorous and sensitive moments as when the children gang is gathered and play and enjoy themselves . Anyway, its is compensated with the great performances from Clara Lago and Juan Jose Ballesta , interpreters who provided a considerable boost to the result . Imanol is a great director of actors and the main players are complemented by a good cast of secondaries as Alvaro De Luna , Rosa Maria Sarda , Maria Barranco , Albert Jimenez ,Carmelo Gomez , among others ; all of them forming a powerful human group of support cast and giving excellent interpretations . Special mention to magnificent musical score by Bingen Mendizabal who composes an evocative as well as sensitive musical score . Including a spotless pictorial cinematography by Gonzalo Berridi and a willingness , almost perfect of the elements of each shot , every sequence , every space . The original story was set in Castile, but Uribe decided to move on north of Spain, where have been shot the gorgeous landscapes , filmed on location in Cantabria, Estación de Puente Taboada, Pontevedra, Galicia ,Palacio Hornillos, Las Fraguas, Santander, Cantabria, and Ponte De Barca, Portugal . The film won three Goya nominations 2002 for Best Production, Actress (for the girl Clara Lago, who made his film debut with this film) and costume design . And won Crystal Bear , Special Mention Best Feature Film for Imanol Uribe in Berlin International Film Festival .
This Fernando Bovaira production was professionally written by Angel Roldan and Imanol Uribe who also directed , though has some flaws and resulted to get an acceptable success at Spanish Box office . Uribe who lived and had a son with actress María Barranco , gained fame early in his career for his controversial socio-political portraits of the Basque people such as ¨Fuga Segovia¨, ¨Muerte Mikel¨ and he turned to thriller as ¨Adios Pequeña¨, ¨Running out of time¨ , ¨Plenilunio , ¨Carta Esferica¨ and drama as ¨Bwana¨ , ¨Rey Pasmado¨ and ¨Extraños¨ .
I was deeply moved by this movie in many respects. First of all, I just
want to say that Clara Lago was the most precious little thing! Such a
pretty little girl. Her acting was superb as well. True to life and
very human. Though I don't like the part where she had to smoke; I hope
it was only a fake prop. Either way, she was absolutely wonderful and
the story was so moving. I found myself immersed in the story and her
It's quite interesting how I came to discover this movie actually. I was walking in blockbuster and I just happened to notice her pretty smile on the cover as I was walking by. Luckily I glanced in the downward direction that this movie was in! I thought to myself, 'Awe, look at her!' So I picked it up and saw that this movie was described as such wonderful things as "A Little Gem." I read the plot on the back and then thought that, well, maybe I'd look it up on IMDb first and then come back and rent it at a later time. I'm glad I didn't, because I certainly would have been missing out. After searching for a movie with my friend, I knew that I would end up regretting not renting this film, so I went back to the spot in which I originally found it and snapped it up.
It had been on my dresser for a week, since school started for me this week and I really hadn't any time to watch it, but tonight was the perfect opportunity. I popped it in and was glued to the beautiful cinematography, delightful score and moving plot from beginning to end. I was so captivated and must say, some parts nearly moved me to tears.
I would also like to make a special mention for the young boy in this film, Juan Jose Ballesta. He was remarkable. Also the actor who played Carol's father, who's name is unfortunately not listed on the site. His voice was just so loving and gentle that I could really sense his love for Carol. Even though his appearance is not prominent, I really felt his character's presence.
This is truly a wonderful movie. If you are a person who is moved by light, but emotional films, then this is definitely one for you.
"El viaje de Carol" is one more in the series of Spanish films devoted to depict the Spanish Civil War from a child's point of view. However, this film does not reach the quality of similar-themed films such as "Secretos del corazón", possibly because the plot is diffuse and it fails to stick to any of the subplots. The best of the movie is certainly the cast, which includes the very best of Spanish veteran actors, but also a bunch of very promising young actors. Specially remarkable is the chemistry between Clara Lago, who plays Carol, and Juan José Ballesta, who plays Tomiche. In a nutshell, "El viaje de Carol" is good but not great, although it remains as a good watch for a rainy Sunday.
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
Carol, the young girl at the center of the story, is transplanted to a
foreign land, Spain, at the height of the Civil War conflict in the
late 30s. For this girl, everything is new, in it's foreignness. The
war and her father are her constant worries, while she has to immerse
herself in a provincial culture that is years behind what she has in
Imanol Uribe directs this film by the numbers. Carol's family is obviously divided, while Carol's mother is married to someone that is an air force pilot with the leftist faction, the rest of the family's sympathies are with the Franco and the fascists that won the conflict.
The story adds nothing to what has already been told, much better, but it's an easy film to watch. Northern Spain's magnificent landscape is shown. Don't expect a lot of action since most of what happens revolves around Carol and the young boys she befriends.
Clara Lago plays Carol with sincerity and innocence. Maria Barranco is Carol's mother Aurora, the one that went away to America. Rosa Maria Sarda is Maruja, the teacher who befriends Carol. Carmelo Gomez, plays Alfonso, the man that Aurora left behind when she left for America. This actor, who usually has lead roles in most Spanish films, doesn't have anything to do, as he remains an enigma throughout the movie.
Yesterday my Spanish / Catalan wife and myself saw this emotional lesson in history. Spain is going into the direction of political confrontation again. That is why this masterpiece should be shown in all Spanish High Schools. It is a tremendous lesson in the hidden criminality of fascism. The American pilot who gets involved in the Spanish Civil War chooses for the democratically elected Republican Government. The criminal role of religion is surprisingly well shown in one of the most inventive scenes that Uribe ever made. The colors are magnificent. The cruelty of a war (could anybody tell me the difference between Any war and a Civil war ?)is used as a scenario of hope when two young children express their feelings and protect each other. The cowards that start their abuse of power even towards innocent children are now active again. A film like 'El viaje de Carol'/ 'Carol's journey' tells one of the so many sad stories of the 20th Century. It is a better lesson in history than any book could contain. Again great work from the Peninsula Iberica !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very good Spanish movie but I am worried that many out there
will feel lost because many around the world have no idea what the
Spanish Civil War was all about or when it was fought. Being a history
teacher, I had a big advantage but could easily see how the film could
be confusing until you piece together all the pieces. I doubt if this
would be a big concern in Spain where this film was made, but for other
audiences they may be a bit confused until later in the film.
The movie begins with 12 year-old Carol and her mother returning to her mother's home town. Years have passed and you gather that they are coming to Spain from New York City. Despite the strangeness, Carol speaks reasonably good Spanish and much of the film is about how she adapts. As for why her and her mother are alone, I'll spill it now for those who don't pick up on the fact that Carol's father is fighting in the war on the side of the Republicans (who eventually lost in this very bloody conflict).
The movie gets exceptional marks for its lovely camera work and music. The rather slow and rambling pace isn't bad provided you are someone who can accept films this way. I have seen several other Spanish films about this war and this compares pretty well to them--not better or worse--just a decent slice of life film about those who are left behind as well as a nice coming of age flick.
PS--If you don't know which side is which, the Republicans were mostly Socialists and they were backed by the Soviet Union and Mexico as well as volunteers from many countries (including the USA). The Nationalists were led by Franco and were aided by Portugal and the Fascist states of Germany and Italy.
Clara Lago is wonderful as the title character of the film, essentially a film about a Spanish/American girl who moves to Spain with her mom at the time of the Spanish Civil War. It turns out, the mother goes home to die, and she is left with her grandfather. She also makes friends and experiences much in a short time. Tomiche (Juan Jose Ballestra) is at first a nuisance to her then they become close. The film is shot beautifully, bathed in soft colors mostly. Carol yearns for her dad, who is a pilot in the war, and you can feel the love sher has for him. While the war itself is kind of taken a back seat in this film, it envelops the character's lives. I think you'll like it. See it especially for Clara Lago, who does a great job as Carol. She is definitely one to watch.
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