After 70 years Spain sees secret documentary
-"In the destroyed cellars of the front live the enemy troops. These are professional soldiers who fight against the will of the people. They want to impose the will of the military on the will of the people. "And the people hate them. Because without their tenacity and the constant help of Italy and Germany, the Spanish rising would have annihilated them in six months."
An unseen documentary film made by Ernest Hemmingway about the Spanish Civil War was finally shown last night in the country where the conflict cost thousands of lives 70 years ago.
Scripted by the American novelist, who covered the Civil War as a journalist, Tierra de España (Spanish Earth) contains footage of the war that had never been seen in Spain.
The feature-film length documentary has a commentary in English by Hemingway describing the fighting between the rebel army of General Francisco Franco and the Republican Government troops near Madrid in 1937.
It also features comments about the action from the film director Orson Welles in English. A French-language version of the documentary includes contributions from Jean Renoir, the actor and director.
The documentary, financed partly by Hemingway and a group of left-wing American artists, was shown to President Roosevelt as well as in France, but had never been shown in Spain because of the sensitivity of the material.
The film was shown as Spain prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the Civil War next month.
The action centres on the fighting as Franco"s troops attempted to take Madrid in early 1937 and cut off the main road between the capital and Valencia.
Hemingway, who covered the war from the Republican side and whose novel For Whom The Bell Tolls was based on the conflict, tells the story of the front near Jamara on the outskirts of Madrid.
Outlining the efforts of the people to defend the front against the advancing rebel troops of General Franco, Hemingway introduces a strong element of pro-Republican propaganda into the script.
Made with Joris Ivens, the well-regarded Dutch documentary maker, it was intended to try to counter the Francoist propaganda machine.
At one point in the script, Hemingway describes the enemy troops, saying: "In the destroyed cellars of the front live the enemy troops. These are professional soldiers who fight against the will of the people. They want to impose the will of the military on the will of the people.
"And the people hate them. Because without their tenacity and the constant help of Italy and Germany, the Spanish rising would have annihilated them in six months."
The film also focuses on the people of the village of Fuentidueña de Tajo, on the Republican side, and the way they struggle to keep the troops supplied with food.
Hemingway was part of a group called Contemporary Historians with American writers and artists like John Dos Passos, Lillian Hellman and Clifford Odets....
The documentary was shown in Spain last night on the Cinemanía Clasico channel on the pay-per-view channel Digital Plus.
As Spaniards have started to talk more openly about the Civil War in recent years, another documentary about a group of American volunteers who fought on the Republican side will be shown on public television in Spain on Friday.
Voluntarios de leyenda (Volunteers of Legend) is about the 2,800 members of the Abraham Lincoln brigade, which formed part of the International Brigades of Britons and other nationalities who travelled to Spain to fight against Franco.
Many members of the brigade were later persecuted in America by the FBI during the McCarthy era anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s. Steve Nelson returned home only to be jailed for 20 years for anti-American activities.
Cold as the grave
"The dead sleep cold in Spain tonight. Snow blows through the olive groves, sifting against the tree roots. Snow drifts over the mounds with small headboards. (When there was time for headboards.) The olive trees are thin in the cold wind because their lower branches were once cut to cover tanks, and the dead sleep cold in the small hills above the Jarama River. It was cold that February when they died there and since then the dead have not noticed the changes of the seasons.
The fascists may spread over the land, blasting their way with weight of metal brought from other countries. They may advance aided by traitors and by cowards. They may destroy cities and villages and try to hold the people in slavery. But you cannot hold any people in slavery.
The Spanish people will rise again as they have always risen before against tyranny."
Extract from Hemingway"s On the American Dead in Spain (1939).
[Source: The Times, London, 27Jun06]
DDHH en España
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