The story takes place in April 1956, when the Spanish presence in northen Morocco ends. Santiago, a young Spanish lawyer, son of an influential family in Spain, arrives in Tetouan, the ...
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The story takes place in April 1956, when the Spanish presence in northen Morocco ends. Santiago, a young Spanish lawyer, son of an influential family in Spain, arrives in Tetouan, the capital of the Protectorate. Apparently, his mission is to find a family and a house, his fate will dig into a past that no one wants to relive.Written by
On July 1936 General (later Generalissimo) Francisco Franco was flown by British secret agents from the Canary Islands, where he was confined by the Spanish Government, to the city of Tetuán in Spanish Morocco. Franco mobilized the African colonial troops in a military uprising against Spain's constitutionally elected government. After two years of bloody civil war, Franco was the victor and Spain and its remaining colonies entered a dark period of dictatorship, where torture and outright murder by police, the military and assorted thugs were common, and the death penalty was applied indiscriminately. During WWII Franco (short of declaring war on the Allies) supported unabashedly the Axis powers to the extreme of sending an Army division of "volunteers" to support the Nazi onslaught on the Soviet Union.
At the the end of the war Franco's Spain became an international pariah, condemned by the United Nations as an ally of the Nazis. Spain's postwar isolation did not last long: it was gradually lifted in the late forties and early fifties by opening the country to American bases and joining the anti-USSR coalition. Alliances with Fascism and Nazism during WW2 were conveniently forgotten. Of course, Spanish foreign policy was henceforth decided in Washington, not Madrid.
Franco had high hopes of clinging to the last vestiges of the former Spanish Empire but the US had other ideas; in the mid fifties it saw an independent Morocco as a strategic asset, and Spain was pressured to relinquish control. The carrot was Spain's admittance to the United Nations, that happened in 1955. Spain tried unsuccessfully to keep the Western Sahara, but just managed to cling to two coastal cities, Ceuta and Melilla, and to a few rocks jutting out of the Mediterranean near the Moroccan coast.
The backdrop for this movie is the city of Tetuán. The year is 1956, and Santiago, a young lawyer, scion of a wealthy Valencia family with strong connections to Franco's regime is in town. He is looking for clues (hinted at in a letter) that have to do with his family's past during the Civil War. Spanish power in Morocco is ending. Facts that had to remain hidden under the dictatorship are beginning to see the light, and various shady characters are scrambling to find ways to survive in the coming independent regime.
This movie does everything well, including its open ending. Characters are well fleshed out, acting is excellent, direction maintains a steady pace and the plot is at the same time suspenseful and deeply moving. Production values, in particular cinematography, are excellent, as is the reconstruction of time and place. The real protagonist is the fascinating city of Tetuán, with its back alleys and wide avenues where spectacular mansions hide behind deceptive facades. A definite must see.
We are informed in the movie that neckan (also transliterated naquam) means "to avenge" in Hebrew. Revenge, as well as Hebrew, are basic to the plot.
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