In convulsive moments, cinema, like other arts and forms of expression of the human soul, stands in chronicler of his time. The tremendous migratory crisis that ravages the western world has been finding a high and clear response in the form of a film for many months, filling international festivals and revealing the diagnosis of the current state of the world.
A stage that we will remember as those years in which world cinematographies reacted urgently to one of the largest humanitarian crises So far this century. In this context, and given the radicalization of positions in all the poles of the globe, we look back to review the reactions of the cinema to which it was, without a doubt, the blackest time in our history as European citizens.
I mean, of course, the rise and proliferation of fascist regimes who sowed hatred, discrimination and delation in a generalized state of struggle for survival in the face of the greatest genocide of the last century. The premieres of 'While the war lasts', by Alejandro Amenábar, and 'Jojo Rabbit', where Taika Waititi gives life to an imaginary and comic version of Hitler, they bring back the current issue.
This is how Hollywood told it
At this point, and after many decades of recovery and improvement, we could almost think that cinema has approached the Nazi regime from all possible angles. However, films focusing on World War II and the Holocaust continue to proliferate as a recurring method of appealing to Therapeutic properties of the seventh art for the preservation of historical memory.
Perhaps due to a certain moral distancing and with the perspective that gives land to get in the way, or perhaps because he is the adoptive father of many filmmakers forced to flee from their bereaved Europe, Hollywood takes the lead and probably holds the record for large-scale productions based on the horrors of Nazi Germany.
Starting with the wonderful urgent satire of Charles Chaplin when the world most needed to laugh and face the ghosts of a society that had failed in humanity, the rest of the century will be a parade of cinematic condemnations to fascist absolutist terror. Indeed 'The great Dictator' of Chaplin is a brave declaration of film warfare to the regime that, to date, had not fitted any opposition from the international community.
At the dawn of World War II, when the megalomaniac and expansionist desire of Adolf Hitler was already evident but still at the gates of a genocide whose worst moments were yet to come, the image of a pathetic dictator returned hope of being able to defeat the person behind the mask. Part of the enormous relevance is given by its visionary appearance in 1940, at which time such brutal dimensions no one could wait yet.
After the Allied victory and the discovery of the atrocities caused by xenophobic hatred, came the need to look for responsibilities, as a measure to turn the page, and just over a decade after the end of the war, Stanley Kramer would film 'Winners or losers?' ('Judgment at Nuremberg', 1961).
Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland, among others, marched on the bench where four judges of the Nazi regime were tried in 1948 for war crimes. One of the greatest successes of Kramer's career, in addition to endless nominations, two Golden Globes and two Oscars, one of them for the best leading interpretation of Maximilian Schell.
Also following that line, and several decades later, Stephen Daldry He questions morality in the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime and its subsequent trials in 'The Reader' (2008). A talented Kate Winslet He then played an exguarda of a concentration camp that, in his attempt to continue forward after the fall of the regime, falls in love with a young man who, with a certain poetic passion, asks him to read for her.
The motives of the fetish will disarm the young law student when, years after the end of his affairHe will have to face the reality of witnessing the trial against his lover, which will unleash a whole series of moral issues.
Of course, a whole list of large-scale tapes followed in the decades following the war, signed by many of Hollywood's authorized voices.
In addition to the round trip portrait of Clint eastwood, which in the binomial 'Flags of our parents' and 'Letters from Iwo Jima' (2006) filmed the two sides of the coin (one from the allied side within the United States Army, the other from the Japanese point of view ) or the violent tarantinesca cartoon of 'Damn Bastards' ('Inglourious Basterds', 2009), which left us discovering a magnificent Christoph Waltz in the role of one of the most memorable Nazi villains.
Steven Spielberg It was he who put the most famous notes on the holocaust with 'Schindler's List' (1991), whose soundtrack by John Williams still today gives goosebumps only when he remembers it.
In 1993, while presenting 'Jurassic Park', an already acclaimed Spielberg shook the world with the moving real story of businessman Oskar Schindler (for posterity immortalized by Liam Neeson) who, in the service of Nazi intelligence and impressed by the upsurge from extermination, he did what he could to save all possible lives. Around 1200, which he used in his factory in Poland, as a measure to prevent his deportation to concentration camps.
More recently, in 2014, it would be George Clooney who would leave his contribution with his 'Monuments Men'. While it is far from being a masterpiece, it does leave us with some interesting anecdotes. Clooney centers the plot on one of the collateral effects of Hitler's megalomania: his unstoppable eagerness to seize the greatest European works of art, of great economic and artistic value without a doubt, but at the same time symbol of the variety of cultures and civilizations of the continent.
Clooney's elite troop thus moves to Belgium to recover one of the icons of Flemish painting, 'The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb' by Jan Van Eyck, which today is in Ghent and of which, indeed, several pieces are missing. The multi-award Alexandre Desplat puts the music in the movie and premieres as an actor in a funny cameo.
The Nazi horror, from within
Parallel to the propaganda cinema financed directly by the Hitler regime and its collaborators, some German directors tried to continue their artistic work on the sidelines.
An already consolidated Fritz Lang He would direct in 1931 'M, the vampire of Düsseldorf', not without difficulties, according to the critic Quim Casas in his book about the filmmaker. The movie, whose first title was planned as 'The murderer among us', bothered Hitler's party, which interpreted such a claim as a direct threat. While it is true that Lang used the subtext of his last two German films as an encrypted critique of the growing regime.
So, 'M' and 'The will of Dr. Mabuse' (1933) – the latter would cost him a visit by the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels – would be his last German attempts, before the start of his persecution.
After a forced proposal of the regime to direct the new titles of Nazi propaganda, Lang was forced to escape to Paris, from where he would emigrate to the United States to start a new film chapter. There he would finally shoot openly anti-Nazi movies like 'Executioners also die', premiered in 1943, in the middle of World War II, or 'The Ministry of Fear', from 1944.
Far later are other approaches to German cinema about the blackest chapter in its recent history, and many of them explore more than what, the whys. So that, Michael Haneke dates back to the period preceding World War I to find the origin of the German moral decline, in a scathing reflection on good and evil.
In the widely awarded 'The White Ribbon' (Golden Palm of Cannes 2009), the Austrian of German origin seeks responsible through the eyes of a genuinely cruel childhood as a symbol of the future he foreshadows the beginning of the end. A childhood indirectly inspired by the behavior of its elders, which points us incisively as necessary collaborators.
Also in an attempt to reflect on the organizational structure of the Nazi regime and the reasons that could boost its rise in a convulsive period where the leadership of change was the key to making the country reborn from its ashes, the German Dennis Gansel it hit in 2008 with 'La ola'.
On this occasion, an experiment in the classrooms will lead society to chaos beyond the walls of the institute in which a teacher tries to show his students — certain that a second authoritarian wave would be unthinkable in Germany— how the unstoppable growth of totalitarianism feels which, even before recognizing it, threatens to get out of hand.
Another peculiar attempt to understand the Nazi dome was that of Oliver Hirschbiegel in 'The Sinking' (2004), where a powerful Bruno Ganz puts himself in the shoes of Adolf Hitler, in the portrait of those who will be final days of Nazi terror, which will continue to hit hard until the last of his sighs.
The dictator's suicide, as well as the last hours of an extensive group of Nazi leaders who will not run better luck, form some of the most outstanding moments of this work, never before portrayed.
Italy was another of the sensitive territories that, while actively participating in the absolutist massacre at the hands of Germany, its population doubled the consequences of fascism. With its alliance with the Nazi axis, the occupation of the Italian territory complicated the task of the resistance and multiplied the pressure on the Italian people, already under the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini.
Surprising that, in that context, Italian cinematography is one of the most active of the time and is crowned, perhaps, as the period of greatest splendor, as well as the cradle of the movement that will give rise to the new cinemas more than a decade later.
So, filmmakers like Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Vittorio de Sica or Giuseppe de Santis, whose work arose from the need to vindicate the population in a country in ruins, begin the movement that we would later coin as Neorealism.
Rossellini, who had already contributed to the glory of the Mussolini regime with three military-propaganda films – his film debut – became a matter of a few months in the secret weapon of Italian guerrilla cinematography, and would illuminate a new form of make cinema, emerged from the urgency of the soul to capture in images the testimony of a time in ruins in a naturalistic way.
So 'Rome, open city' (1945), heartbreaking story of an Italian family in secret struggle against the German invasion and testimony of the cruelty of the occupation, is revealed as chronicle of war while fascism fell.
In a busy and divided Italy Between national fascism and the obligation to collaborate with Nazi troops, the people rebel against soldiers who do not represent their national feelings and forcibly monitor their daily lives.
The partisan resistance, which finds refuge both in the most common of families, among theatrical divas and within the Church itself, fights from all fronts – and is represented in an organic and human way – against the invading enemy.
The role of a revolutionary faction of the Church configures in this portrait of misery a prominent position in supporting resistance, while the figure of childhood is revealed, as in most tales of the time, as the key to the future. An orphan future of referents and with a whole black backpack of experiences whose Shocking images will take a long time to erase.
With 'Roma città aperta', Rossellini already points out the style that will mark his war portraits and that will lead to the new Italian cinema. Following in a natural way the feeling of their characters, far from shaping them into a square and bevel, allows them to evolve organically as witnesses of their time, sensitive to the space around them, humans, real in short.
However, it will be a second post-war Rossellini movie, 'Country (Comrade)' (1946), which will consolidate the testament of World War II in Italy.
Built on real and naturalistic locations, mostly outside, and combining the interpretation of actors (mostly non-professionals) with the filming of the survivors of a ravaged Italy, six stories of humanity arise from the ruins of war.
Feel like that, definitely, the foundations of the new Italian cinema, as opposed to the falsified greatness, hyper theater and great scenery that had been produced to date in the national installations of Cinecittà.
Through the optics of a camera that observes which human eye to the people within the characters, Rossellini brings you to humanity behind all those stories left by war. In a chronological way, 'Paisà' jumps from one story to another in a coherent compendium of survival sketches around the Italian geography, and which it will configure in its total a history of the liberation of the country.
The confluence of human stories of different nationalities and languages after the occupation of all armies (allies or not), builds a narrative far removed from what we know as a war story, treated in turn with so much sensitivity and intelligence that it is exciting and without a doubt still valid today.
Blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality, the filmmaker constructs a discourse in fiction about the desolate landscape that is revealed in front of his almost documentary camera and thus stands in testimony of his time. So close to reality that it encourages doubting its fictitious nature.
At the end of the war, an actively oppositionist Rossellini moved his production to devastated post-Nazi Germany to portray the repercussions of neo-realism on the repercussions of the German catastrophe on the zero zone. So in 'Germany year zero' (1948), the Italian filmmaker portrays the difficulties of the German postwar period from the skin of a child who will have to manage to help his family survive.
Some years later, and signed by another of the Italian film summit authors, although of a totally different cut, it is 'The fall of the gods' (1969). Luchino Visconti It situated the action of this great production at the beginning of the Nazi regime, where Hitler's unstoppable rise will soon be captured in absolute power after the convulsive elections of 1933.
It is in that pre-campaign where economic and business power is forced to take sides. In that "with me or against me" which pushed the popular and already dangerously powerful Hitler to the legal triumph at the head of the German government, a family of metallurgists must choose where to position their industry.
Behind an indisputably authorial viewpoint, this story of gods and men gathers all the signs of modernity cinema. A magnificent plane-sequence based on the complicity of an organic chamber, moves us around a table where diners discuss the decisions that will define their entire relationship with the Regime.
A starting point that will lay the foundations, in substance and form, which will later be discovered as a murky story, whose characters are no less dark and twisted, represent the broad social and economic base that supported the dictator.
Almost contemporaneously, and already marking a sufficient time distance from which to propose the riskiest of his career, Pier Paolo Pasolini presents in 1975 'Saló or the 120 days of Sodom', a completely twisted and perverse story that juxtaposes the stories of the Marquis de Sade with the horrors of fascism.
Like many other cinematic reflections, Pasolini focuses his gaze on childhood and youth, once again as a sign of the future: a black future in this case, marked by terror, violence and torture, and whose resolution can only have a pessimistic and hopeless reading.
Four Nazi leaders, which horsemen of the apocalypse, recruit the most exclusive young men – according to the requirements of a demanding perverse casting – for their confinement for 120 days in Sodom. What will happen in that building, although it was glimpsed, remains far from what any healthy human mind can even imagine.
Although unlike Hitler, Pasolini drags us openly to the bowels of your own concentration camp, forcing us to look at the crimes caused by a murky human behavior with an almost diabolical result.
Perhaps the most corrosive criticism to date, whose symbolic subtext loaded with references after exposure of the naked bodies, hides an incisive representation of the fascism as the absolute violation of humanity. And at the same time, perversion of youth as an icon of the future of a devastated Europe whose consequences will be irreparable.
The concepts of punishment and guilt are mixed in a scathing reflection on victim and executioner that drags us with our eyes fixed to the bowels of terror and makes us accomplices.
Years later, already as part of our closest contemporary cinema, and past a turning point on the representation of the horror of the Holocaust, Roberto Benigni It goes back to the concept of childhood in what will be one of the most cited works of cinematography in this field. It aims to demonstrate, from a unified and modern Italy at the end of the century, that recovery is indeed possible: having hope.
'Life is Beautiful' (1997) follows the story of Guido and his family, whose Jewish roots will lead as in many other cases to the destruction of their home. After the separation of the mother, who is dragged indiscriminately by a black destiny, the father, an optimist by birth, will prepare to facilitate the drink to his son, portrait of the innocence of childhood. So, Surviving the Holocaust becomes an obstacle course to overcome to get the grand prize.
The vision of Eastern Europe
Roman Polanski He signed one of the most heartbreaking films of his filmography with 'The Pianist' (2002), where the Polish focuses on the crudeness of the Nazi invasion of his country during World War II.
Adrien Brody gives life to the pianist in one of his best roles – the one that earned him an Oscar – in his pilgrimage to survive in a ravaged Warsaw, where Polish Jews were condemned to the isolation of the ghetto.
Whoever was a distinguished pianist, reputed for his interpretations of compatriot Frédéric Chopin, is stripped of his fame and career, remaining reduced to misery of all those who were convicted of racial discrimination. In the harshness of the persecution, memories of what once was will help you survive against the Nazi regime.
From a more committed point of view, the Polish Agnieszka Holland brings us together involuntarily road trip to the real survival story of Solomon Perel, occasional actor and author of the autobiography on which it is based 'Europe, Europe' (1990).
After fleeing his native Germany, a family of Jewish merchants settles in Poland, given the prospect of security on the other side of the border, without even considering what would eventually happen in the neighboring country.
In a violently divided Poland between Nazi and Soviet troops, even more feared than those led by Hitler, a young Jew by conviction will try to survive some and others camouflaged behind the jacket that shelters most. After escaping the bombings, Solomon will land in an orphanage for Soviet children, to finally finish among the Nazi ranks where, as everywhere, you will find good and bad.
From the point of view of the innocence of the gaze of those who, oblivious to acquired prejudices, are targets of indoctrination, Holland explores the paradox of being but not belonging to the community, which is present throughout the journey in its attempt to adapt which chameleon.
The filmmaker thus changes the classical perspective of the stories about Nazism and places the viewer at the crossroads between two armies, both barbaric and human, returning the personal dimension of history.
Holland who, after studying in Czechoslovakia, began his career as an apprentice with the Polish director Andrzej Wajda, and for years riding between the United States and its origins, builds like this a story about uprooting of all those who, after the outbreak of the hitherto conceived home, became stateless.
Agnieszka Holland would later revisit some of these issues in other more recent titles, such as European co-production 'In Darkness' (2011), in which he once again tells a true story of so many that impacted Poland. In this case, that of a thief initially moved by self-interest that hides Jewish refugees for months in a city occupied by the Nazis.
Also in recent years, Wajda himself gave his particular testimony about the Polish double occupation during World War II, in which he inevitably was involved in his childhood. Son of a Polish army captain, in 1940 he would witness Katyn's massacre at the hands of the Soviets.
In an attempt clearly moved by the sense of historical justice, the most prominent Polish filmmaker signs in 2007 'Katyn', a personal story about the killing and its context. Doubly presented, from the front and at the same time from the uncertain wait of all those families eager for news, Wajda points directly to the USSR and its mental tricks to go around history.
With a population divided between two waters, the filmmaker puts that part of the story not so often claimed in the disparadero, retaliation of victory. If the Nazi invasion was harmful and destructive, the Soviet would not be less bloody and despotic. Andzrej Wajda emphasizes the cruelty which has historically submitted the country, in liza for the interest of both, which toy that passes from hand to hand with the promise of facilitating the liberation of the population.
This personal story signed in the last years of his film career is not, by far, Wadja's only approach to the Polish issue. Only a decade after the end of the war, the filmmaker would film a trilogy about the occupation of the country during World War II: 'Generation' (1955), 'Kanal' (1957) and 'Ashes and diamonds' (1958).
A triptych within the ensemble of the militant filmography of the Polish – especially interested in the consequences of communism and wild capitalism -, composed of more than fifty feature films.
When it seemed that another way of filming the horror of the Holocaust was not possible, the revelation director of Hungary appeared, László Nemes, and dragged us in the foreground, trembling and vibrant, to the forests where some Auschwitz prisoners are morally tortured by disappearing the bodies of their own companions.
In 'El hijo de Saúl' (2015), one of those sentenced to forced labor in these crematorium ovens, strives to find a dignified burial for the body of the one he takes for his missing son, and thus obtain a deserved eternal rest.
An impressive story that pushes the viewer, always stuck to Saul's skin, among the inert remains of human bodies that, crowded together, await their turn. With a precise background work, the new Hungarian promise drags us into a two-stage staging: the narrative with a face in the foreground and everything else that happens, without truce, out of focus, leaving a strenuous sense of plane endless sequence
Central European cinema and collaborators
The role of the countries adjacent to Nazi Germany during its expansionist era is, at least, controversial. Starting with the immediately annexed Austria, the largely collaborative Netherlands or an internally divided Belgium, many of these countries have tiptoed over this period, also cinematographically speaking.
Although it is true that most Austrian filmmakers were forced to leave the country – from the years before Nazism, some developing their professional career from Germany as Fritz Lang, or luckily starting their Hollywood adventure, such as the Austrian of Jewish origin Otto Preminger—, the national cinematography, rather focused on the local market, has historically obviated the subject in his films.
Comedy and great epic dramas centered on a glorious past – for example, the films of Sissi Empress – were the preferred genres at the end of the tragedy, in an attempt to escape the fiction of lived reality.
It was in 2007 when Austrian cinematography obtained international recognition, in the form of Oscar, for 'The counterfeiters' from Stefan Ruzowitzky, also premiered at the Berlinale.
Starring Karl Markovics – winner of the Silver Spike at the Seminci de Valladolid that year – tells the story of a counterfeit Jewish coin who is dragged into the concentration camps with the outbreak of World War II. There you will be exposed to a complex Moral dilemma: Survive by falsifying allied money and collaborate with the Nazi victory or die subjected to their violence.
The film effectively represents the moral dilemma of an entire country necessarily forced to position itself. Something like that happens with the Netherlands and Belgium, where the First World War is widely remembered but not the Second, whose ambiguous role is still taboo in any table talk today.
Belgium, since its founding as such in the early nineteenth century divided mostly between Francophones and Flemish, and until the date of the Nazi occupation dominated by the Francophone side, took an ambiguous role in his relationship with Germany. Perhaps because of greater cultural similarity, perhaps due to absolute obligation, part of the country considered that under German rule it could live better than during its French experience. This ambiguity, still questioned today, has erased almost any film reference to World War II from the map.
Possibly, similar is the feeling in the Netherlands where, however, an agitator Paul Verhoeven He signed the most expensive film work in the country, portraying Dutch collaboration in 'The Black Book' (2006).
The most famous Dutch director had already dropped his concern about Nazism as he passed through Hollywood in what was rather his will in the great studios, 'Starship Troopers' (1997). The famous science fiction with authoritarian dyes and great symbolic similarities with Hitler's National Socialism, did not fall too well among the Americans and especially within the industry that more expats welcomed.
Halfway between a high school ticket office, a science fiction blockbuster of the nineties, a war movie and the hand of Verhoeven, the famous blockbuster he went into Nazi morals at the slogan to fight the insect enemy: "To kill the bug you need to understand the bug".
Dándole nueva forma y sentido a ciertas referencias fascistas ampliamente reconocidas, el holandés pone de manifiesto los efectos de la manipulación y el adoctrinamiento derivados de la propaganda y una cierta euforia social.
Al abandonar Hollywood, Verhoeven regresaba a Europa y a sus orígenes de la mano de su cinematografía natal, desde donde revisaba no sólo su pasado sino el de sus conciudadanos a través de la provocadora 'El libro negro'. Un relato localista con su sello y firma sobre una cantante judía infiltrada entre las filas nazis holandesas para la resistencia. A pesar de que la cinta no se encuentra entre lo mejor del peculiar cineasta, su epílogo destaca especialmente, en su retrato de las reacciones al triunfo de la resistencia.
Francia, por su lado, en cuanto a que aliada y al mismo tiempo parcialmente sometida al régimen, ha añadido en numerosas ocasiones su aportación sobre la Segunda Guerra Mundial, el Holocausto y el ascenso de los totalitarismos de corte fascista en el continente. De entre las producciones y coproducciones de la más grande de las cinematografías europeas, destaca el cortometraje documental de Alain Resnais, padre de la Nouvelle Vague francesa: 'Noche y niebla' (1955).
Resnais da la vuelta al contexto de los campos de concentración, como punto de partida para adentrarnos de forma ácida y muy oscura en los horrores reales del exterminio. Con un toque de ironía inteligentemente mordaz, el cineasta sitúa la barbarie del Holocausto en lo que en otras circunstancias podría ser un idílico complejo turístico, y con esa premisa deforma la narración de la misma manera que hiciera la ilusión de la promesa aria una década atrás.
En su transformación de la obra histórica existente —recoge parte del material cinematográfico de la retratista del régimen, Leni Riefenstahl—, 'Noche y niebla' se convierte en un relato documental con una potente visión personal —que cuenta con Chris Marker en la asistencia de dirección— y de incalculable valor histórico que, con enorme respeto, pero descarnado y sin rodeos, dispara directo al blanco y nos golpea hasta el K.O.
Y mientras, en España…
El madrileño Fernando Trueba sitúa la acción de 'La niña de tus ojos' a caballo entre los regímenes hermanados de Franco y Hitler. Penélope Cruz, respaldada por el mayor elenco de actores españoles de la época, daba en 1998 vida a Macarena Granada, la protagonista de una película española que se rodaría en la Alemania nazi, en coproducción con el régimen de Hitler.
En clave de comedia, Trueba aborda los peligros de jugar al límite de las reglas de dos regímenes autoritarios sin términos medios entre la colaboración y la oposición. Una película que, si bien bordea la cuestión española, se centra más en la caricatura del régimen nazi.
De hecho, un gran número de producciones españolas han abordado el drama de la Guerra Civil y el levantamiento de los nacionales desde diversos puntos de vista, avivando más o menos la polémica de un tema aún sangrante y todavía por cerrar.
Desde producciones recientes, como la dirigida por David Trueba en 2003 'Soldados de Salamina', basada en la novela homónima de Javier Cercas; 'Los girasoles ciegos' (2008) de José Luis Cuerda, con una enorme Maribel Verdú junto al siempre magnífico Javier Cámara; o la más reciente 'Pa negre' (2010) de Agustí Villaronga, centrada en la dureza de la posguerra franquista en la campiña catalana y rodada íntegramente en catalán.
Desde el punto de vista gallego, y basada en una historia dentro del libro de Manuel Rivas '¿Qué me quieres, amor?', José Luis Cuerda de nuevo ahonda en la sublevación del ejército contra la Segunda República española que provocaría la Guerra Civil en 'La lengua de las mariposas' (1999).
En ese momento prebélico, Moncho (un carismático recién descubierto Manuel Lozano de 9 años) empieza el colegio, donde comenzará a descubrir el mundo de la mano de su sabio maestro (Fernando Fernán Gómez) que, como muchos de esos educadores de la República, sufrirá un duro destino.
Ejerciendo de altavoz de la memoria histórica del país, la Guerra Civil española y el alzamiento franquista son, sin duda, temas muy recurrentes en la cinematografía nacional. Y quizá lo más representado dentro de nuestras fronteras, ya iniciado años atrás por quienes trataron de sobrevivir al régimen combinando películas comerciales capaces de traspasar la censura con una crítica soterrada que los censores pasaron por alto.
Así, Luis García Berlanga se erige en uno de los máximos exponentes de su tiempo, firmando algunas de las obras más importantes de la cinematografía española. 'La vaquilla' (1985) representa la división de esas Españas que, durante la Guerra Civil, tratan de sobrevivir con humor a la crueldad de la guerra entre conciudadanos.
Alfredo Landa, sin duda una de las caras más reconocidas del cine de la dictadura franquista, lidera el grupo de "golpistas" republicanos que se propone sabotear la fiesta nacional robando su tesoro más preciado: una vaquilla.
Aunque ya mucho antes del fin de la dictadura, en 1963, el cineasta valenciano se atrevía con dobles lecturas como la de 'El verdugo', donde Nino Manfredi, un enterrador de profesión, se ve obligado a reemplazar a su suegro (José Isbert) en el oficio de verdugo nacional, por amor a su hija (Emma Penella), quien se lamenta de no encontrar un novio por temor a la profesión del padre.
También en clave internacional, una de las obras más célebres del cine contemporáneo español reflexiona sobre la crueldad de la guerra entre vecinos en la ampliamente alabada 'El laberinto del fauno' (2006). El mexicano Guillermo del Toro dirige este excelente cuento fantástico en el que una niña (maravillosa Ivana Baquero) escapa de su nueva cruel realidad a través de la imaginación, para adentrarse poco a poco en el oscuro refugio de un ser sombrío y monstruoso.
En plena posguerra, Ofelia se ve obligada a trasladarse al campo, siguiendo el cometido de su nuevo padrastro, un despótico general franquista en persecución de los últimos republicanos refugiados en el monte. En su escapada emocional, Ofelia llegará hasta el fauno, que le descubrirá su verdadero origen. Una magnífica historia de hadas en perfecto equilibrio con la realidad del contexto y sin duda un punto de vista nunca antes expuesto en la cinematografía española.
El cine como cronista de la Historia
El cine, en su mayoría europeo, se ha erigido pues durante décadas en escritor de la crónica negra de nuestra historia reciente. Muchos puntos de vista que coinciden en un punto en común: destacar la humanidad en momentos de agonizante dureza. Sobresale ante la maldad y acaba difuminando la fina barrera entre bandos, como destaca Solomon Perel en un brillante momento de confusión en 'Europa, Europa' donde afirma no saber distinguir a sus enemigos de sus amigos.
La figura de la infancia se convierte también en el centro de atención de la mayoría de cineastas, como símbolo del futuro; futuro inexorablemente arruinado que nunca volverá a ser igual, o por el contrario un futuro de esperanza y cambio, superado el horror y con vocación de regeneración. En ambos casos implicando directamente al espectador, que se ve obligado a tomar conciencia ante la perspectiva del mayor desastre que, hace no tanto tiempo, destruyó la moral europea.