Summer 1936, a young unemployed communist, David, leaves his hometown Liverpool to join the fight against fascism in Spain. He joins an international group of Militia-men and women, the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista). After being wounded he goes to Barcelona, where he decides to join another group of fighters. They remain in Barcelona and end up fighting other anti-fascist groups. David is disappointed and decides to go back to his old band.Written by
Walter de Rijk <W.C.A.de.Rijk@let.uva.nl>
The International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War were foreign volunteers who flocked to the conflict between 1936 and 1939. Thousands fought for the left-wing Republicans, and smaller numbers joined the right-wing Nationalists. Some saw the conflict as a battle between democracy and tyranny, others between Communism and Fascism. So many Americans joined the Republicans they were able to form their own unit, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Different factions of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) fought for both sides. Their enemies the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) sent men and arms to aid the Republicans. George Nathan, one of the International Brigade's greatest heroes, was an ex-Black and Tan who had served in the Irish Troubles of 1919-21 and found himself fighting alongside his former enemies. The Soviet Union provided some military support for the Republicans. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sent massive military aid to the Nationalists and dispatched the 'Condor Legion' of German warplanes manned by Luftwaffe crews. Numerous famous figures took part in the conflict, including George Orwell who fought on the Catalonian front, Errol Flynn, who worked as a reporter, and famous spy Kim Philby. See more »
Actually the rucksacks are the same as British 1908 pattern, and were made from 1929 onwards by La Industria Lonera in Barcelona, Spain. See more »
We elect the officers and everything. It's socialism in action - not like the army back home.
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Special thanks to the people of Mirambel and Morella. See more »
Is a film's literary antecedent normally so transparent?
... When it is not even acknowledged?
A left-wing lad goes to Spain, joins the otherwise totally obscure Marxist POUM militia, and experiences at first hand serious political differences with the Communists and their competing militia. Well, the lad does not actually get wounded in the throat during the course of the movie, but otherwise this is the biography of Eric Blair (George Orwell), as described in his book "Homage to Catalonia".
In spite of the single source cribbing, I did like this film in general since films about Spain in English, other than Canadian ones with Donald Sutherland as Dr. Norman Bethune, are few and far between.
It was wonderful to see a priest being shot in this film -- I don't mean it that way! -- since anti-clericalism was an important element both in the Spanish Civil War and in the French Revolution although it rarely seems to be mentioned much in the English-speaking world. The people in both countries felt the burden of traditional, oppressive, hypocritical Catholicism, just like the kind we had here in the Province of Quebec before the Quiet Revolution of the 1960's. At the other end of the political scale, the poor treatment of priests in Spain was a motivating force for Fascists in France to join the Charlemagne division of the Waffen SS to defend the cause of Christianity, or so The Sorrow and the Pity attests.
The Spanish war was about liberation from autocracy amidst a blizzard of competing, doctrinaire, left political philosophies. That was a really exciting time to be politically active, and there is a great scene of grassroots socialism in action at a town meeting.
The film has a rough-hewn, half-finished look characteristic of Ken Loach, but don't let that put you off. Anyone who can get worked up about the sometimes microscopic, casuistical differences between the Grits and the Tories, or the Democrats and the GOP, or New Labour and those other Tories, or Labor and National, or the SDP and the CDU, etc. should really love a movie, and a conflict, where the political spectrum is so broad for a change. Political animals of whatever bent should get a kick out of it.
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