CFUV @ VFF 2020: While At War

Written by on 02/25/2020

If you plan on seeing this film, you’d be wise to brush up on your Spanish civil war history. Set in 20th century Spain during the beginnings of the Spanish civil war and the long reign of dictator Francisco Franco, “While at War” (Mientras dure la Guerra) gives us a glimpse into Spanish political history that so few of us know anything about. The story follows celebrated writer, professor, and respected intellectual, Miguel de Unamuno, as he navigates the tense and complicated politics and atrocities that came with the war, and highlights his shifting opinions of the war as he becomes more deeply involved in it.

As someone who came into the theatre knowing virtually nothing about Spanish political history, I did find myself feeling lost at times. Having some context about the Spanish dictator, the opposing sides, and the politics of the civil war would have been very helpful to grasp the full context of the film.

Amidst the occasional confusion, the film still beautifully portrays the complex lives of the characters, and their involvement in the civil war. The phenomenal acting and believable characters help give viewers a realistic glimpse into another era of Spain’s complex history. This film effectively reminds us that war is more complex that just one side against another. It involved many voices, many opinions, and can be greatly influenced by the unlikeliest of people.

-Dominque Drouin-Moreland

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