Movies about Spain

Travelling to Spain soon and want to prepare?  Watch some of these movies to get a good idea of Spain and its people!

Aside from watching our own Maggi in the Canadian TV channel, Travel and Escape (www.travelandescape.ca) on the 6 part series in the Danakil Depression (Offbeat Roads), here are a few films which you may want to preview for cultural interest for Spain.

Pan’s Labyrinth – 2007 Oscar winner (cinematography/art direction) Director Guillermo Del Toro Ofelia, step daughter of a cruel military official during the time of Franco’s postwar repression, immerses herself in her own fairytales in her home’s garden to escape the horrible reality she is living in. A moving and emotional movie.

The Spirit of the Bee Hive – Victor Erice (1974) Made in 1974, a time when film makers could not openly express anti-Franco feelings, this beautiful portrayal of two young sisters growing up in post civil war oppression, is sensitively done. Ana, the youngest sister is mesmerized after seeing the movie Frankenstein and believes that she is able to invoke him. Again, her parent’s dysfunction, stricken with their own personal traumas, causes the children to retreat into their own imagination.

Spain’s most famous and beloved director, Pedro Almodovar has a multitude of movies that gives insight into Spain’s love of the madcap as well as their perversely dark humour. Some of his most well known are:

  • Matador (1986)
  • Tie me up Tie me Down (1987)
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
  • Volver (2006)

 

Movies about England

“The Tudors” (Showtime – Michael Hirst) – a very popular dramatic mini series that was made in 2007 about King Henry VIII and his wives. This same theme was also undertaken with the movie, The Other Boleyn Girl (2008 – Justin Chadwick) in which outlines the true story with great fictionalization about Ann Boleyn´s sister with whom Henry VIII also had an affair with. The 1998 film, “Elizabeth” (Shekhar Kapor) is a sumptuous visual feast which tells some of the story of Elizabeth I´s reign after her sister Mary (Henry VIII´s daughter with Spanish Catherine of Aragon).

Continuing on the same Henry VIII theme, is the classic 1966 film, A Man for all Seasons (Fred Zinnemann) – a somewhat dry movie with not much action but the moral conundrum that Sir Thomas More is faced with bending to the King or his own convictions, is stressful enough to watch. Orson Welles makes an appearance as Cardinal Woolsey and Paul Scofield who played More was given an Oscar for his performance as was the film itself.

Remains of the Day (1993 – James Ivory) gives a wonderful example of the English reserve with Anthony Hopkins playing a butler to an aristocrat with dubious morality and Emma Thomson as the head housekeeper in the estate. Their relationship is fraught with misunderstanding and Hopkin´s inability to express his true feelings makes for sometimes cringeful watching.