Espana Otra Vez
Vanguard // Unrated // $29.95 // July 29, 2003
Review by Don Houston | posted September 26, 2003
Skip It
E - M A I L
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Movie: Nearly seventy years ago, the world was on the brink of absolute destruction and the United States was trying to pull itself out of what was known as The Great Depression. Conflicts arose all over the world and no one was powerful enough to stop them since the major superpowers of the time were all positioning themselves for what was all but a certainty, WWII. Most of the European countries were trying to appease Nazi Germany and the Pacific Basin countries did likewise with Japan. The thought was that either a war could be averted or at least time could be bought in order to prepare for it. One of these conflicts was eventually called the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy were supporting a military coup de tat of Fascists who were attempting to take control of the country. The countries that could help, Britain, USA, and others signed a treaty pledging non-intervention (so as to keep the conflict from spilling over and igniting the powder keg that was Europe). Spain's various factions that were fighting the fascists put out the call for volunteers to join in the struggle, people that were not "officially" affiliated with their governments, to fight the good fight. In an age of idealism, a great many joined. In a movie that deals with one such volunteer, Espana Otra Vez (Spain Again), we get to see the story of one man, dealing with the repercussions of his past.

The man, David Foster, is a respected neurosurgeon attending a medical conference in Spain. In between his lectures, he reminisces about his idealistic youth, 30 years prior. He had joined the International Brigade which was the military group mentioned above. He had served as a doctor, trying to keep people alive in a time when life was cheap, and often quite disposable. During his service, the fascists made a major push on his field hospital and he ended up seriously wounded, perhaps on the brink of death. The only person willing to assist him was a young nurse, Maria, who nurtured him back to health. The two fell in love and circumstances of war kept them apart when he had to leave the country. Now that he has a chance to go back there, having led a good life and giving in to a more pragmatic approach towards life, he hopes to look Maria up and see what happens. Even during his conferences, he can't help but think of the attractive woman he had once wanted to marry. His time to find her limited, he returns to his old area and tries to find survivors that might remember him, and, more importantly, Maria.

I liked the idea of the movie more than the movie itself. One of the problems with movies made in the 1960's, especially low budget movies, is that they had such a different point of view. That makes it often difficult to understand or get into them. Such was the case here with far too much time spent in the medical talks and then in various situations that didn't move the movie forward fast enough for my tastes. The acting was okay in that sense but the direction and screenplay were usually lacking. When David finds a substitute for his past flame, he falls head over heels but in such an unrealistic manner. That he attempts to recapture his former glory in a bar was almost painful in how it was shown too.

So, if the technical aspects were weak (see below), and the story elements were not up to snuff, how can I rate this as anything other than a Skip It? The themes were certainly interesting enough to make me "want" to like it but the execution of those ideas by Director Jaime Camino was lacking.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The print showed it's age with a lot of scratches, various frame skipping, and a host of dvd transfer issues. The color was off more often than not and there were a number of artifacts on display during the show.

Sound: The audio was presented in mono Spanish with English subtitles (burnt in) and wasn't as bad as the picture. Yes, the dynamic range was limited and there were issues regarding clarity of the vocals and music but I was able to hear what they said.

Extras: trailer to the feature

Final Thoughts: The movie left me cold and the technical limitations kept me from being able to suggest it as worth checking out. Director Camino has made better movies and while this one might have been better received 30+ years ago, it was just too dated for me to enjoy.

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