Land and Freedom (1995)


Introduction

Land and Freedom (or Tierra y Libertad) is a 1995 film directed by Ken Loach and written by Jim Allen.

The film narrates the story of David Carr, an unemployed worker and member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, who decides to fight for the republican side in the Spanish Civil War, an anti-rebel coalition of Socialists, Communists and Anarchists.

Outline

The film’s narrative unfolds in a long flashback. David Carr has died at an old age and his granddaughter discovers old letters, newspapers and other documents in his room: what we see in the film is what he had lived.

Carr, a young unemployed worker and member of the Communist Party, leaves Liverpool and travels to Spain to join the International Brigades. He crosses the Spanish border in Catalonia and coincidentally ends up enlisted in a POUM militia commanded by Lawrence, in the Aragon front. In this company, as in all POUM militias, men and women – such as the young and enthusiastic Maite – fight together. In the following weeks and months he becomes friends with other foreign volunteers, like the French Bernard and the Irish Coogan, and the latter’s girlfriend Blanca – with whom David Carr later falls in love – also a member of POUM, and also the ideologue of his group.

After being wounded and recovering in a hospital in Barcelona, he finally joins – in accordance with his original plan and against the opinion of Blanca – the government-backed International Brigades, and he encounters the Soviet propaganda and repression against POUM members and anarchists; he then returns to his old company, only to see them rounded up by a government unit requiring their surrender: in a brief clash Blanca is killed. After her funeral he returns to Great Britain with a red neckerchief full of Spanish earth.

Finally the film comes back to the present, and we see Carr’s funeral, in which his granddaughter throws the Spanish earth into his grave after speaking lines from “The Day Is Coming”,[3] a poem by William Morris.

Join in the battle wherein no man can fail,
For whoso fadeth and dieth, yet his deed shall still prevail.

Afterwards she performs a raised fist salute, honouring his beliefs.

Cast

  • Ian Hart – David Carr.
  • Rosana Pastor – Blanca.
  • Frédéric Pierrot – Bernard Goujon.
  • Tom Gilroy – Lawrence.
  • Icíar Bollaín – Maite.
  • Marc Martínez – Juan Vidal.
  • Andrés Aladren – Militia member.
  • Sergi Calleja – Militia member.
  • Raffaele Cantatore – Militia member.
  • Pascal Demolon – Militia member.
  • Paul Laverty – Militia member.
  • Suzanne Maddock – Kim (David’s granddaughter).

Trivia

  • According to Ken Loach, the most important scene of the film is the debate in an assembly of a village successfully liberated by the militia.
    • People from the actual village where the film was shot play peasant parts in the film and express their thoughts freely (despite language difficulties), and a debate ensues about whether or not to collectivise the village land and that of the recently shot priest.
    • An American with the POUM militia argues that the war effort must come first, suggesting that collectivisation and other revolutionary actions might hamper that effort.
    • He mentions that if such actions and the slogans accompanying them continue, they will not gain the support of powerful capitalist regimes such as the United States and Britain (“You’re scaring them”, he says).
    • The necessity of a contemporaneous war and revolution is expressed by a German militiaman, who says that ‘in Germany revolution was postponed and now Hitler is in power’.
    • In the end the villagers vote for collectivisation, thereby taking steps on a far-left path.
    • In the anarchist and socialist controlled areas this kind of expropriation of land was common, as the civil war was accompanied by a social revolution.
  • The film won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.
  • The film was also nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Ken Loach.
  • Producer(s): Rebecca O’Brien.
  • Writer(s): Jim Allen.
  • Music: George Fenton.
  • Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd.
  • Editor(s): Jonathan Morris.
  • Production: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.
  • Distributor(s): Gramercy Pictures.
  • Release Date: 06 October 1995.
  • Running time: 109 minutes.
  • Country: UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, and France.
  • Language: English, Spanish, and Catalan.

YouTube Link

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