Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 18, 2018 


This big-budget Spanish drama pays tribute to the courageous women who sacrificed their lives during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Maria's (Ariadna Gil) peaceful life as a nun is shattered when revolting anarchists force her and her sisters to flee their convent sanctuary. Maria ends up hiding in a brothel where she meets the good-hearted whore, Charo Loles Leon). Their peace is in turn destroyed by the sudden arrival of Pilar (Ana Belen), a passionate, idealistic member of the Free Women organisation. Her fiery speeches and strong arm tactics compel the hookers and Maria to join their fight. A handsome ex-priest also joins them as they fight with the anarchists in Zaragoza. Following a small victory, the formerly trench-bound, battle-weary women celebrate, but then Maria finds herself faced with the destruction and death that goes with war. Later the former priest informs the women that they will not be allowed to fight on the front lines and the women are left with broken ideals and angry hearts that lead them into one last, violent battle.

"This is a boldly drawn piece of Spanish cinema with some breathtaking moments, but not enough to hang a drama on to. The film is fascinating in its depiction of the Spanish Civil War from a female perspective, and the dealing with the anti-Communism forces. Historically, it's interesting, and the group of women are a fascinating and disparate lot. But somehow, there it's a bit of a muddle in this film, whose purpose seems as confusing as the war. It's far too long and doesn't get to the point till quite late in the piece, which doesn't give the audience much of an opportunity to share the heart-wrenching journey that Maria undertakes."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Ana Belen, Victoria Abril, Ariadna Gil, Loles Leon, Blanca Apilanez, Laura Mana, Jorge Sanz, Jose Sancho, Miguel Bose, Antonio Dechent

DIRECTOR: Vicente Aranda

PRODUCER: Andres Vicente Gomez

SCRIPT: Antonio Rabinad & Vicente Aranda (from a story by Aranda and Jose Luis Guarner)


EDITOR: Teresa Font

MUSIC: Jose Nieto

ART DIRECTOR: Josep Rosell

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 4, 1997


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