Tuesday, October 9, 2007



6th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

The true story of Salvador Puig Antich, the last political prisoner executed during the Franco regime on March 2, 1974. It traces his life from the time he became a part of the MIL Movimiento Iberico de Liberacion (Iberian Liberation Movement), a group of politically active anarchists who robbed banks to fund the rebels against the Fascist government to his execution by garrote in a Barcelona prison.

The movie begins with Salvador being caught by the authorities in an entrapment operation. Then it evolves back to the part where they present his life in the movement. Actually the movie progresses in a non linear manner with flashbacks neatly embedded in the scenes. We see how as a student he got involved in mostly clandestine operations in the organization like plotting political rallies in the streets, robbing banks as well as publishing subversive documents. The second half of the movie concentrates on his incarceration. Several poignant scenes when his lawyer and his family try desperately to get a stay of his execution from the government. The section where they overemphasized on the sappy, weepy factor. The tearjerker portion where they relied heavily on emotional scenes. It seemed a bit long if you ask me but then I believe the director wanted to portray him as the victim who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and so he didn't deserve to be executed. The most vital scene though is when they show his final moments as he is being garroted by the executioner. It was shocking yet at the same time you can't help but stay glued to the screen as it unfolded.

The wardrobe authentically depicted the era (the 70s). The film has this sepia/grainy tone with several bleak prison scenes. Except for the dragging weepy parts, it was clearly edited and it didn't seem like it was 134 minutes. It is filmed entirely in Spanish as well as in Catalan with English subtitles.

Salvador Puig Antich is portrayed by German actor Daniel Bruhl (Goodbye Lenin, 2 Days in Paris) who is fluent in the Catalan language. It being his mother's tongue, literally. His mother is Spanish. His expressive facial gestures does justice to this very significant role in his young acting career. Despite having a boyish charm to his appearance, Bruhl came across as very mature and quite confident as Salvador Puig Antich. Great acting talent!

A highly politized film that aims to expose the then Franco regime as being ruthless and wanting to use the young militant as a pawn in their fight against the anarchists. But most importantly, it is the story of a young rebel who simply fought for what he believed in and didn't give up till the very end. It was his death which triggered the downfall of the Franco regime. People rallied and protested in the streets every single day to overthrow the government. So I guess he didn't die in vain, he did succeed, after all!

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