The Spanish Civil War as a paradigm of the 20th Century.
This documentary, mostly about the Spanish war conflicts of the 1930s, acts as an exposé of the futility and failure of some of the ideologies that dominated the Western world in the mid-20th Century. Nazis, fascists, communists and anarchists, no one is free of responsibility; no one sees their ideals fulfilled.
The film is specially poignant for Spanish viewers, who will walk away with moist eyes; but it has enough moments of profound humanity to emote anyone. It is also very successful at unraveling the baffling complexity of the Spanish Civil War, where nothing was quite black or white, even though the combatants and political leaders acted as if it was. The whole world was watching but no-one acted, and those who took a stance got burned badly. A special place in my heart is reserved for those foreign volunteers who came to defend the Spanish Republic, and whose sense of loss was only alleviated by the personal bonds that they left behind with the Spanish people.
In the end, by the time one hears about the outlandish experiences of Spanish volunteers fighting with the Germans against Stalin in the Russian front, one realizes that the previous century was one big, obscene theater of the absurd, and that the Spaniards seemed to be pretty good actors in it. With a special cameo by Luis García Berlanga, the noted director of "The Executioner" and "Life Size," who fought against the Russians in order to prevent his father from being executed by Franco loyalists back home in Spain.
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