A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FILM
My mother grew up in Madrid without a father. She met him for the first time when she was sixteen, in France. The man who is supposed to be her father is a perfect stranger to her, as much as the new country in which she will have to live. I have tried to ask her about that period of her life. But she seemed to be affected by bouts of amnesia each time I would try to dig up certain things from the past, as if she were afraid that catastrophes from long-ago could resurface and swallow her up. The vague and scattered stories she told me have never satisfied my curiosity. In the end I was left with a bunch of anecdotes, a few phrases, images and atmospheres. There were only “bits and pieces”, parts of a big puzzle I could hardly figure out. I started to read and do research about this period and with time I could put the pieces together, in my way. The story that came out of it could be the one of my family whereby imagination and freedom of fiction were my best co-writers. Although it was the Spanish Civil War that forced the characters in my story to seek refuge in France, it could just as well have been one of the too many wars of today. Unfortunately, the list of the armed conflicts lengthens each day and we are more than ever confronted to mass murder and exile. Refugees, dragging themselves and whatever they could carry away from war to no safety, are one people all over the world. The problems they have to face are scarcely different today from fifty years ago: day after day, we can witness how families are brutally torn apart, and what it means for them to loose everything, their property, their culture, their language and possibly their identity. In order to become integrated into their new country and recreate their identity, emigrants often choose to forget their past. For me, this film is above all a love story, a story about the power of love and fantasy. “History”, as we know it from books, will only be the background in which the characters with all their pains, dreams and struggles, hopes and deceived feelings will be brought to life. War is a malignant disease that shapes humanity, but people have an incredible ability to survive and even emerge stronger from it. My characters have been uprooted and their story is one of exile. Love and their indomitable faith in a better world keep them alive. But at what price?
“The Anarchist’s Wife” is set in Spain between 1937 and 1952, an unstable period in world history.
1923-1930 Military dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera – resulting in strikes and terrorist attacks.
1931 Spanish Republic is proclaimed. A coalition of left-republican parties andthe Socialist Party (PSOE) is formed. Despite the democratic structure of this Republic, the government isn’t able to solve the difficult situation in Spain.
1932 The two Spanish anarchist syndicates (CNT/FAI) have already got more than a million affiliates. On the other hand José Antonio Primo de Rivera founds the “Falange”, a fascist party, which immediately makes violence the center of its political action. Thus, the country plunges into confusion and blood-spattered fighting.
February 1936 The left-wing Popular Front wins the election, but isn’t respected by the army that rather follows the right-wing National Front.
July 1936 Civil War breaks out. Franco’s troups surround the capital, but underestimate the heroism of the Madrilenians and the brave support of the foreign volunteers of the “International Brigades”, who come to Spain to fight against the combined forces of European fascism.
Oktober 1936 Franco is publicly proclaimed as Generalísimo of the National army and Head of State. He is officially accepted and supported by Hitler and Mussolini.
January/ February 1939 In the north what is left of the Republican army seeks refuge in France. Close to five hundred thousand Spaniards cross over to France through the Catalan border. At the border, the men have to hand over their arms to the French authorities. It is a cold winter and they don't even have a roof over their heads. Over 15,000 people die during the first weeks of exile in France.
February 1939 Madrid is incapable of further resistance and surrenders to the Nationalists.
March 1939 End of Civil War in Spain. The country is in ruins, traumatized by violence. The years of hunger begin. Franco makes no attempt at national reconciliation, executing his enemies without proper trials. Over 100,000 people are executed between 1939 and 1945.
September 1939 World War II breaks out, France is occupied by the Nazis in June 1940. The French authorities offer the Spanish refugees to enlist in the army in order to reinforce the frontline in exchange for their freedom. Most of them agree - for them, to defend France against the Nazis is like defending their own country.
1940 After the defeat of the French army, the Spanish refugees are the first to organize the resistance against the Nazis. They soon form a real underground army engaging in sabotages and other destabilization work. The consequences of their idealism will be devastating. Over thirtyfive thousand refugees die on the front lines, in clandestine fighting or in concentration and extermination camps.
1945 At the end of World War II, the Allies decide to isolate Spain because of Franco’s regime: the border with France remains closed from 1945 until 1948. The Spanish republican forces slowly start to rebuild their organizations in exile: PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party) and PCE (Spanish Communist Party). But as time goes by, the opposition in exile finds it increasingly difficult to reach agreement with the opposition in Spain. The main reasons for this drifting apart are that the Spanish expatriates are less and less familiar with the new reality in their isolated homeland and that many of them find it very difficult to admit that the “war is
Today, these men and women from Spain who fought or died in the French Resistance whatever their age, background and beliefs for the sake of freedom and justice, have been practically forgotten. Some have returned to Spain, most of them have stayed in France and become citizens of this country. If they are still alive, they have the dignity of those who have never surrendered.