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8 user 6 critic

The Spanish Earth (1937)

Unrated | | Documentary, War | 20 August 1937 (USA)
A documentary showing the struggle of the Spanish Republican government against a rebellion by ultra-right-wing forces led by Gen. Francisco Franco and backed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

Director:

Joris Ivens

Writers:

John Dos Passos (English narration), Ernest Hemingway (English narration)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Manuel Azaña Manuel Azaña ... Self (President of Spain)
José Díaz José Díaz ... Self (Parliamentarian)
Dolores Ibárruri Dolores Ibárruri ... Self (as La Pasionaria)
Enrique Lister Enrique Lister ... Self (Republican Army)
Commander Martinez de Aragón Commander Martinez de Aragón ... Self (Republican Army)
Gustav Regler Gustav Regler ... Self (German writer)
Orson Welles ... Narrator (English version) (later replaced by Ernest Hemingway) (voice)
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Storyline

This documentary tells of the struggles during the Spanish Civil War. It deals with the war at different levels: from the political level, at the ground military level focusing on battles in Madrid and the road from Madrid to Valencia, and at the support level. With the latter, a key project was building an irrigation system for an agricultural field near Fuentedueña so that food could be grown to feed the soldiers. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Orson Welles recorded the commentary written by Ernest Hemingway and receives on-screen credit, but Hemingway decided to use his own voice instead. It is not clear which version of the film uses Hemingway's voice; the most common print does use the more cultured voice of Welles, which seemed jarring to members of the Contemporary Historians production company--formed by Herman Shumlin, Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker, which produced the movie. Both versions are available. See more »

Quotes

Orson Welles, Narrator: We took no statements from the dead, but all the letters we read were very sad.
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Connections

Referenced in Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure: Episode #1.1 (1999) See more »

User Reviews

 
Interesting, if shaded, documentary
1 August 2007 | by eschwartzkopfSee all my reviews

The Spanish Civil War remains as one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts involving a major country, and it's impossible to sum up its many nuances. You'll get one view of the conflict here with incredible footage of war and glimpses of rural Spanish life.

This, however, isn't a documentary as much as it is straight Soviet-style propaganda. The style of the film, from the poor farmers bettering themselves with a homemade concrete irrigation system to the election of soldiers to hear impassioned political pep talks from movement leaders, s straight from the Stalnist manual of Lifestyles of the Glorious Peoples. This isn't meant to Red-bait any of the participants -- they truly believed in a "free" Spain, and fascist-backed Francisco Franco's regime wasn't the answer, either -- but the reality was far different and is only now coming to light after 70 years.

The Spanish Civil War was also very much a fascist/Soviet proxy war, and the Soviet Union had a not-so-hidden hand in its direction. Look carefully at the fighting sequences, and you'll see very atypical people in different-style uniforms guiding artillery and directing troops.

As a historical insight -- despite what now appears to be a ham-fisted approach in propaganda -- the film is priceless. And many thanks for TCM and its ever-expanding programming efforts in broadcasting the film in July 2007; hopefully, we'll always have somebody unwilling to slice, dice and crop something and still call it a classic, ala AMC.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | German

Release Date:

20 August 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

This Spanish Earth See more »

Filming Locations:

Fuentiduena , Spain See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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