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March 3 - April 24

Franco, Fascists, and Freedom Fighters:
The Spanish Civil War on Film

This past year marked the 70th anniversary of the military uprising which instigated the events of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). This film series looks back on the battles between the Franco-led Nationalists and the Popular Front as well as their lasting impact both within Spain and worldwide.

This program was curated by Professor Brad Epps and Professor Susan Suleiman who are currently teaching a related course, The Spanish Civil War from Both Sides of the Border. Special thanks to the Office of the Dean of Harvard College.


March 3 (Saturday) 7 pm
March 6 (Tuesday) 9 pm

El Perro Negro: Stories from the Spanish Civil War

Directed by Péter Forgács
Netherlands/Hungary 2004, video, color and b/w, 84 min.

Hungarian documentarian Peter Forgás used the remarkable home
movies of two men from opposite sides of the Spanish Civil War—a Catalan industrialist and a student from Madrid—to weave an intimate and insightful composite portrait of the conflict. Forgács gives the amateur filmmakers’ footage new life in an expertly crafted montage of image and voice-over quotations from other participants in the war to create an alternate narrative from the romanticized fictions that continue to prevail. Print courtesy of Lumen Film.

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March 3 (Saturday) 9 pm
March 5 (Monday) 9 pm

The Devil’s Backbone (El Espinazo Del Diablo)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Spain/Mexico 2001, 35mm, color, 106 min.
With Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi
Spanish with English subtitles

Guillermo del Toro casts a mesmerizing spell in this beautifully
understated ghost tale set in a crumbling orphanage at the height of the Spanish Civil War. A mature work of poetic allegory, The Devil’s Backbone explores a child’s unerring perspective on war and loneliness and offers an evocative companion piece to del Toro’s recent breakthrough film Pan’s Labyrinth. Print courtesy of New Yorker Films.

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March 4 (Sunday) 7 pm

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Directed by Sam Wood
US 1943, 35mm, b/w, 168 min.
With Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Akim Tamiroff

Paramount secured a critical and box office success with For Whom the Bell Tolls by following Hemingway’s recommendations for the leading roles, Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. Yet Dudley Nichols’ screenplay deliberately turned away from the political core of Hemingway’s novel, focusing instead on the doomed romance between disenchanted American revolutionary Robert Jordan (Cooper) and the beautiful Partisan Maria (Bergman). The almost three hour road show version of For Whom the Bell Tolls remains truest to the film’s soaring epic dimensions and is the only way to appreciate its lush Technicolor landscapes, beautiful orchestral score and vivid performances. Print courtesy of UCLA Film and Television Archive.


March 10 (Saturday) 7 pm

Ay, Carmela

Directed by Carlos Saura
Spain/Italy 1990, 35mm, color, 102 min.
With Carmen Maura, Andres Pajares, Gabino Diego
Spanish with English subtitles

Based on a popular Spanish play, Ay, Carmela! follows a struggling
Republican stage troupe that accidentally strays across enemy lines. Carlos Saura’s often trenchant comedy of manners subtly examines both sides of the conflict to explore the price of loyalty and the bitter ironies of war. The radiant Carmen Maura stars in this vivid portrayal of a country torn asunder. Print courtesy of Lola Films.

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March 10 (Saturday) 9 pm

The Hunt

Directed by Carlos Saura
Spain, 1966, 35mm, b/w, 91 min.
With Ismael Merlo, Alfredo Mayo, Jose Maria Prada
Spanish with English subtitles

Saura crafts a brilliant metaphor for the dangerous excesses of bellicose masculinity in The Hunt, his most intense and tightly constructed film. A rabbit hunt led by three veteran Nationalist soldiers on a former battle site steadily and inexplicably builds in violence and aggression with the heat of the day. Although The Hunt avoids any explicit mention of the war—following the dictates of Francist censors—its subject remains even more vivid for being unspoken. Beautifully shot in black-and-white, Saura’s masterful film is an outstanding model of poetic restraint.

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March 13 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Land and Freedom (Tierra y Libertad)

Directed by Ken Loach
Germany/Spain/UK 1995, 35mm, color, 109 min.
With Ian Hart, Rosana Pastor, Iciar Bollain

Ken Loach’s brave anti-Stalinlist critique of the Spanish Civil War
examines the internal struggles and wrenching contradictions that devastated the Republican cause. Loosely inspired by George Orwell’s autobiographical account of the conflict, Homage to Catalonia,Loach’s film follows the gradual awakening of an idealistic British Communist to the cruel ironies of the fight against fascism. Print courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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SCREENING IS CANCELED

The Good Fight

Directed by Mary Dore, Noel Buckner, and Sam Sills
US 1984, 16mm, color and b/w, 98 min.

A powerful documentary portrait of the legendary American volunteer force that fought alongside Republican forces, The Good Fight skillfully interweaves indelible newsreel footage and interviews with the last survivors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to capture the heroism of a generation willing to risk their lives for their most sacred beliefs. Print courtesy of Kino International.

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April 10 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Guernica

Directed by Alain Resnais and Robert Hessens
France 1950, 16mm, b/w, 13 min.
French with English subtitles

Resnais’ powerful documentary layers fragments of Picasso’s epic Guernica canvas and other paintings with Paul Elouard’s poetry to create a moving protest against war and a hymn to mankind’s still unrealized potential. One characteristic element of Resnais’ mature style evident in this early work is his use of montage to project a new vision of reality and to create a subtle, surprising interplay of visual image and literary text.

La guerre est finie

Directed by Alain Resnais
France 1966, 35mm, b/w, 122 min.
With Yves Montand, Ingrid Thulin, Genevieve Bujold
French with English subtitles

Among Alain Resnais’ most stylistically accessible and politically
committed films, La guerre est finie examines the consequences of a veteran Republican fighter’s (Montand) ardent dedication to the overthrow of Franco’s regime. Challenged by younger revolutionaries to realize that the center of political struggle has shifted away from him, he is forced to make choices about his life and political ideals. In a series of premonitions told in marvelous flash-forwards near the film’s conclusion Resnais makes a powerful statement about memory and aspiration, commitment and faith.

April 24 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Butterfly (La lengua de las mariposas)

Directed by José Luis Cuerda
Spain 1999, 35mm, color, 96 min.
With Fernando Fernân Gômez, Manuel Lozano, Uxa Blanco
Spanish with English subtitles

Butterfly views the thunderous build-up to the Spanish Civil War from the quiet distance of a prematurely wise eight-year old boy. This delicate coming-of-age story follows young Moncho’s apprenticeship in love, heroism and treason as his village is gradually polarized into two camps. Legendary Spanish actor Fernando Fernân Gômez is especially memorable in the role of the boy’s iconoclastic school teacher and mentor. Print courtesy of Swank Films.

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