Today I saw Salvador, my first Spanish film. And I understood 99% of it! It felt great and was much needed, specially after the time I went to watch Spanish theatre (La Mujer De Negro) and understood squat. Anyone learning a language will know the joy you feel the first time you can listen without strain, confusion or frustration. AND, despite the fact that alot of the film is in Catalan with Spanish subtitles, wasn't a problem at all. *sigh* what bliss! (Ok, I did read the story of the film before I went. But that doesn't count).
Ok now the movie. Hmmmmm. Not as good as expected. Revolving around Salvador Puig Antich, a young Spanish revolutionary who fought against dictator Franco and was sentenced to death by the regime, I imagined it would be a good summary and depiction of life in Spain during Franco. But it turned out to be an emotional, melodramatic tribute to the guy, with no substance as to how he and his team fought, why they fought, or the Franco regime. 50% of the film is him in jail playing basketball with the guards and the last half-hour is him waiting to die, with a good 10 minutes of him being killed.
Very emotional, but the emotion is generated primarily from the natural heart wrench you feel watching anyone good, sentenced and waiting to die (even the Franco's police guards in the film don't want him to die!).
How did the Franco regime treat people? What was life in Spain like then? Apart from robbing banks and using money to buy weapons, what else did these young revolutionaries do? What political and social activity lead to the formation of the youth revolutionary organisation? What happened after his death? Did he inspire some sort of movement?
The film doesn't give you anything to imagine.
However, I must say - German actor Daniel Bruhl is great in the film, and speaks super Spanish and Catalan for a German.
Another thing that I couldn't decipher was the end of the film when they show credits. You'd think they would show real footage from the Franco regime, but instead there were snippets of Osama Bin Laden and Yasser Arafat!??? No entiendo.
Comparing this film to that of Indian films like Bhagat Singh, and Mangal Pandey - Spanish cinema has alot of catching up to do.
A review found online couldn't have summed it up better:
"We are served up a slick, commercial soap opera – a rear tear-jerker of a movie. A laughable fictional melodrama, run-of-the-mill stuff."