Sunday, November 17, 2013

Alain Resnais: La guerre est finie (1966)

To artists and historians, at least, the Spanish Civil War remains endlessly fascinating and inspiring. Alain Resnais' La guerre est finie (1966), crisply shot in black and white, deals with the shadow war that continued after the Mussolini and Hitler-supported Franco forces overthrew the fragile democratically elected republic in 1939. 

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was a key testing ground and prototype for the Second World War and did not really end until after the death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco (1892-1975). Even now in Spain, the period of rule by Franco and his Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista / Spanish Phalanx of the Assemblies of the National Syndicalist Offensive remains highly controversial and socially unresolved. Then again, in the USA, the American Civil War 150 years after its height is not fully absorbed, either. Perhaps neither ever will be.
La guerre est finie stars such international luminaries as Yves Montand, Geneviève Bujold and Ingrid Thulin. Yves Montand has the same kind of laconic strength of presence as Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood in the mid-1960s, but his historically grounded character can't perform the same type of near-miraculous decisive victories that their more archetypal James Bond or Man with No Name characters can.  For him, there is no particular saving of the day. Instead, the shadow war must go on through decades of exile.
La guerre est finie makes a perfect companion film for Costa-Gavras' 1969 masterpiece film Z. Not only do both have the continuity of Yves Montand in the starring role, but they also both have the cohesive and intelligent, intense and witty screenwriting of Jorge Semprún (1923-2011) to unite them. 

 Today's Rune: Possessions. 


Charles Gramlich said...

My only real knowledge of the Spanish Civil War comes from Hemingway's work.

Tom Sarmo said...

Interesting but sad point about the continuing US Civil War(s).

jodi said...

Erik-You are bound and determined to teach me something, a challenge that my history teachers shared!