Thursday, November 28, 2013

José Luis Cuerda: La lengua de las mariposas / Butterfly (1999)

José Luis Cuerda's La lengua de las mariposas / Butterfly / Butterfly's Tongue (1999) is another thoughtful and excellent film set during the Spanish Republic and Civil War period of the 1930s. This one, based on stories by Manuel Rivas, takes place in lush northwestern Spain, in Galicia. And like other tales about this period, there is a contemporary feel in the tensions fraught between modern diversity, free thinking and progressive outlook vs. traditional one-way-must-fit-all conservatism, here tinged with the brutish fears and accelerated activities of fascism.
Butterfly is a coming of age story involving a boy ("Sparrow," or Moncho, played by Manuel Lozano), his family, teacher, friends and their surroundings, but surely the image of the butterfly is also a stand-in for the highest ideals of the Spanish Republic before (and after?) Francisco Franco's German and Italian-backed Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista took over all of Spain and then remained in power for close to forty years.

Don Gregorio (Fernando Fernán Gómez), Moncho's kindly teacher and supporter of the Spanish Republic, has a number of pithy observations, including this: "Hate, cruelty are Hell . . . At times . . . we ourselves are Hell." And: "You read much? . . . It's time you start reading . . . Books are like a home . . . In books our dreams take refuge so as not to freeze to death."
La lengua de las mariposas / Butterfly / Butterfly's Tongue is R-rated for some nudity. The DVD version I checked out gives the choice of Spanish or French language with English sub-titles. Included are cool glimpses of an almost medieval nature with fairs, music and Catholic feast days. Well worth it, my friends.

Today's Rune: Fertility. 


Charles Gramlich said...

Probably the folks who most need to see this connections would never watch this movie.

the walking man said...

That's a pretty astute observation Charles. Even if they did though they would never stop the steady march to the drumbeat of same.