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Juan José Ballesta,
A film set in the Basque region, beginning in the Carlist war of 1875 and ending during the Spanish Civil war of 1936. The film portrays how one single act of cowardice shapes the life of the next three generations of two families and fuels the intense rivalry which will span the next sixty-one years.Written by
With this brilliant debut film, Julio Medem placed himself almost instantly into the ranks of Spain's leading directors, along with Carlos Saura and Pedro Almodovar.
From the suspenseful footage of barefoot woodchoppers to the sprawling family rivalries to the chaos of war, Medem brings a unique vision and a sharp edge to this Basque historical saga. His later films are equally masterful, but this is the one time he chooses to grapple with the history of his Basque homeland instead of telling a contemporary and character-centered story.
The plot can be a bit tricky to follow for those unfamiliar with Spanish history, and the lush beauty of the film definitely calls more for a big screen than for video. I can't make your screen bigger, but as for the history, I may be able to help with what most confuses the typical American viewer:
The Carlists were supporters of a series of 19th century pretenders to the Spanish throne and constituted an alliance of Basque nationalists with right-wing Spaniards, allied on the basis of Catholic faith. The Carlists advocated absolute monarchy (against the ruling liberal constitutional monarchy), but were willing to grant the Basque region considerable autonomy. Later, in the Spanish Civil War, the Basque nationalists allied to the left, siding with the secular Republic (which also offered them autonomy) against Franco's centralizing fascist forces. Thus to be a Basque nationalist family over the span of this history led to some paradoxical alliances over time.
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