Land and Freedom

Land and Freedom is aBritish filmofKen Loachreleased in1995. The action of the film takes place during theSpanish social revolution of 1936.


A young woman, searching nowadays (1995) in the affairs of her deceased grandfather, discovers the militant past of this one, and in particular its participation as a soldier of the POUM , committed to the side of the republicans, anarchists and communists , to the Spanish war in 1936 . Images of the war and the air of A las barricadas introduce a flashback. At first, a meeting of the Communist Party of Great Britain was held in Liverpool at the end of the 1930s . Congressman exposes militants the usefulness of going to fight in Spain, where Franco tries to seize power by force. The grandfather, David, then a young man, decides to fight in Spain.

Crossing the border by France, he takes the train to reach Barcelona . He sympathizes with anti-Franco Spaniards, like the controller who reassures him by saying that “we do not charge the ticket to the enemies of these bastards of fascists. Arrived in Barcelona, he commits to the POUM and follows a quick training before being sent to Aragon. He meets, in his English-speaking column, volunteers from all over Europe to face fascism: Irish, Germans, Italians, French … During the following scenes, we get to know the people who came to the front, and the difficult conditions of life in the trenches, where even women fight: the POUM militias have a archaic arsenal, some weapons dating back toxix th century; we fight more verbally than militarily (the bullets they launch have no bearing, if not the symbolic significance).

The militia leaves one day to deliver a neighboring village, occupied by the Francoist troops . During this short battle, they lose one of their men, killed by a priest whom they will execute later. Once the village has been cleared of fascist troops, the militia organizes a discussion among the villagers to decide what will happen to the village and their lands: the question of collectivization , essential in Aragon controlled by anarchists of the Regional Defense Council , is asked.

A few days later, the militia must vote. The government of Valencia gives them an ultimatum: as part of the formation of the People’s Army of the Republic, the militia must be attached to the regular units of the new army and militarized if they want to keep any military support. All – except one – vote against the militarization of the column. In trying to use a rifle, David hurts himself in the arm. He must be hospitalized and go to rest a few days in Barcelona. That’s when he decides to leave the POUM militia to join the International Brigades. He receives the surprise visit of Blanca, one of his trench comrades, but she soon becomes angry with him as soon as she discovers that he has joined those she considers “Stalinists”. David is distressed by the atmosphere of suspicion that is spreading among Republicans, but he still trusts the Communist Party . It is then that David forced to participate in the events of May , when the forces of the central government and the Generalitat attack the anarchist and libertarian forces in order to regain control of the city. David is very quickly disgusted by what is happening: he rips his card of the Communist Party and goes back to the trenches of the POUM.

There, his militia continues to fight. But, one day, she finds herself in great difficulty facing the nationalist troops . Their brigade commander asks the International Brigades for the promised help. They arrive only a few hours after the end of the battle to arrest several militiamen, while the others must return home: the POUM was indeed declared illegal by the government in July 1937. A militiaman refuses to surrender. weapon; Blanca runs towards him to push him to surrender his rifle. In a moment of extreme tension, the two troops facing each other, it is more or less accidentally shot with a shot from the government ranks.

The film ends with the scene of David’s burial, which is attended by veterans of the Spanish Civil War. Her little daughter recites verses from The Day Is Coming , a poem by William Morris , then throws on the coffin of the land of Spain treasured by her grandfather during the burial of Blanca.

Technical sheet

  • Original title: Land and Freedom
  • Director: Ken Loach
  • Writer: Jim Allen
  • Producer: Rebecca O’Brien
  • Composer: Georges Fenton
  • Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd
  • Type: Drama – History
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Languages: English, Spanish, Catalan
  • Duration: 109 minutes (1h49)
  • Release date :
    •  France :


  • Ian Hart : David
  • Rosana Pastor : Blanca
  • Frédéric Pierrot : Bernard Goujon
  • Iciar Bollain : Maite
  • Tom Gilroy : Lawrence
  • Marc Martinez : Vidal

Main characters

David , or Dave (played by Ian Hart ) dies at the very beginning of the film, but all he experienced during the Spanish war is traced by this long flashback. In the first place, an old man who has just died, he is remembered above all as a young idealistic worker, with a somewhat frail appearance, as he was during the Spanish Civil War. He decides to fight there after a meeting of the Communist Party, but renounces its membership during the troubles of Barcelona. This is the main character of the film: it is through him that the viewer sees the unfolding of the war. Unlike the other two characters described below, he has no fixed opinion: his opinion is forged and evolves throughout the Spanish Civil War. In fact, he reacts more or less as an average contemporary citizen would react: he is hostile to all forms of oppression and fights against Franco’s troops; moreover, he has an almost Manichean and angelic view of what is happening in Spain: according to him the evil could not exist in the Republican camp. Thus, in the first place, he refuses to be persuaded by Blanca’s point of view on the actions of the Communists (“It’s politics.

Blanca (played by Rosana Pastor ) is a young Aragonese activist who fights with David. David seems to fall in love with her during the war (for example, he seems to be delighted by his surprise visit when he returns to the back) even if he claims the opposite to his wife. The spectator can suppose that it is she who opens her eyes to the actions of the government of Valencia: when she discovers that he fights for the International Brigades, she tries to persuade him to return to fight for the POUM. She is killed at the very end of the film by soldiers of the International Brigades, and is buried in collectivized land, as she wished.

Vidal (played by Marc Martinez ) is the regiment leader. He, like Blanca, is a convinced socialist; he says: “Together we will lead workers and peasants to the Revolution. Like Blanca, he is quite hostile to the government of Valencia, but above all wants to win the war against Franco. In this respect, a sentence sums up his opinion very well; When the vote of the militia is held, he asks the question: “Who votes against the staff who is in Valencia, who supports us and who is ready to give us as many weapons as we want but by alienating us ? (In fact, he has a more pragmatic vision of this war than Blanca).

Around the film

  • The film is partly inspired by George Orwell’s book Tribute to Catalonia .
  • The title is taken from that of a Spanish periodical of anarchist obedience , Tierra y Libertad .

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