Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Childrens perspective on Spanish Civil War: Butterfly's Tongue (1999) & Carols Journey (2002)

Butteryfly's Tongue or Butterfly (Spanish: La lengua de las mariposas, literally The Tongue of the Butterflies), is a 1999 Spanish film directed by José Luis Cuerda. The film centres on Moncho (Manuel Lozano) and his coming-of-age experience in Galicia in 1936. Moncho develops a close relationship with his teacher Don Gregorio (Fernando Fernán Gómez) who introduces the boy to different things in the world. While the story centres on Moncho's ordinary coming-of-age experiences, tensions related to the looming Spanish Civil War periodically interrupt Moncho's personal growth and daily life.


In a Galician town, a young boy, Moncho, goes to school for the first time and is taught by Don Gregorio about life and literature. At first, Moncho is very scared that the teachers will hit him, as that was the standard procedure back then, but he is relieved to discover that don Gregorio doesn't hit his pupils. Don Gregorio is unlike any other teacher; he builds a special relationship with Moncho, teaching him to love learning. Don Gregorio also builds a special relationship with Moncho's father, who is a Republican like him. Moncho's mother is luke-warm towards the Republic, her main concern being belief in God and at the end of the film she sides with the Nationalist rebels.
When Fascists take control of the town, they round up known Republicans, including don Gregorio. Because of the fact that Moncho's father is a Republican, his family fears that he too will be taken away in the purge if the fascists discover his political leanings. In order to protect themselves, the family goes to the town square to jeer the captured Republicans as they are paraded out of the court house and boarded onto a truck. The film ends with Moncho, despite his continued great affection for his friend and teacher, yelling hateful things and throwing rocks at don Gregorio and the other Republicans, as instructed by his mother, as the truck carries them away, although the last thing Moncho yells are the words for the tongue of a butterfly, espiritrompa (literally "spirotube" or proboscis, in Spanish), a favourite word taught to him by don Gregorio in an attempt to let his dear friend know that he does not truly mean the words he is yelling.

External links
The feature is as much a historical snap shot of Spain during the Civil War, prior to Franco's assent as it is a tale of love in a time where the lines between good and evil seemed to be a lot clearer than the current times. Carol (Claro Lago) comes to Spain with her mother Aurora ( Maria Barranco) to their homeland where their father Robert, an American (Ben Temple) is helping to fight Franco's military regime near Madrid. They settle into a small town of Aurora's birth, living with a grandfather and forming bonds with old and new friends. Aurora has come here to die (of an illness no one is made clearly aware of) and leave Carol in the hands of her sister and father. The plot livens up as love blossoms between Carol and Tomiche (Juan Jose Ballesta) and as a love of daughter for a father becomes evident. Towards the end, it becomes clear that the Franco regime has won and her father desprately seeks his daughter as a fugitive in the "new Spain". The end is tragic as Tomiche dies and Carol's father is captured but hope still exists that Carol and her father will be reunited.

No comments:

Post a Comment