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Ferrua, Pietro

1919, Crónica del alba

A film by Antonio José Betancor

Sunday 31 August 2003

Spain, 1983, color

based on the homonymous novel by Ramón J. SENDER.



CAST: Saturnino Cerra, José Antonio Correa, Marisa de Leza, Miguel Molina, Emma Suárez, Walter Vidarte.

Betancor had already filmed a text by Sender, with Valentina (1982). In such film, the protagonist is only 8 years old. In the present film he is sixteen years old and he still loves Valentina, although it is not with her that he lives his sexual initiation, but with Isabel, who seems to share his recently acquired theories on free love. The film develops on two levels; the central character has to help his father who can no longer support him financially. Therefore, he becomes an apprentice pharmacist while still finishing high school. The anarchist militant "El Checa" becomes a father figure for him and will introduce him to the reality of societal life, mostly class oppression. José discovers the alternative press and progresses quickly from the mildly socialist newspapers to more inflamed anarchist periodicals. His personal adventures in school, at work, and at the movies, intermingle with Spanish social and political history: the death of the known anarchist Salvador Seguí (called also Noi del Sucre), workers strikes, police and army repression, and an occasional bomb. The cinematography is of high quality, the camera has a passionate eye for architectural forms and materials such as arcades, porticos, bastions, a tender look for old stones the solidity of which increase the faithful commitment of devoted militants doomed towards self-sacrifice.

We expect and wish that Betancor would continue with more episodes from Sender’s literature because there are enough works by him to recreate the vicissitudes of the twenties, the thirties, and even the forties, that is to say the autobiographical progressive commitment to anarchism of the author, the advent of the Republic, the three years of the Revolution, and the exile to a concentration camp in France, first, then in other far away countries.

Sender has found in Betancor a sympathetic and faithful interpreter who very skillfully renders the atmosphere of his literary landscapes. By using the same narrative rigor, the film director acquires a very compelling vigor.

Pietro Ferrua