Land and Freedom
Directed by Ken Loach.
Answer as many of the following
questions as you can. You may not have noticed some of the details that I
will ask you about. Don't worry if you can't answer them all.
As the film opens, an old man dies and his granddaughter begins to look
through his belongings and keepsakes. She finds letters and newspaper
articles that her grandfather kept from the days when he was young, in the
1930's, when he went to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The story of this
man is the story shown in the film. Since he sent the letters to his
girlfriend back in England, I think we should assume that he eventually
married her and that she was also the girl's grandmother. It would also
make sense that the newspaper clippings would have been collected by her,
since he would not have been in England at the time most of the stories
How does the main character (David) become interested
in going to Spain to fight in the Civil War? What is he told about the
When he arrives in Spain, how is he treated by
Spaniards whom he meets on the train and why?
What is the military training of the volunteers like?
Give some specific examples.
Who are these volunteers? (What kinds of people are
they and where to do they come from?)
When David's company takes a town (where Blanca's
companion is killed by a sniper), a priest is dragged from the church
and shot. Why?
The people from the town have a meeting to make some
important decisions. What is the most important issue? What are the
arguments, pro and con? What do they decide to do?
David is injured while training some new recruits. How
does the injury occur? Is this kind of mishap rare? Why?
When David goes to Barcelona for medical treatment,
Blanca comes for a visit. She discovers that he has joined a different
unit. From what you have seen up until now, do you understand why she
is so angry? Explain. Remember: she is a member of the POUM.
Communists battle Anarchists (supposedly fighting for
the same cause) for control of Barcelona. David is sent with other
soldiers to battle troops the opposite faction. At some point, while
trading shots with people from the other side, he discovers that
there's someone on the "enemy" side from close to his home
town in England. What decision does David make and why?
David gets into a fight with some Republican soldiers
in a bar when he hears them talk about the POUM and especially what
the women in the POUM companies are like. What did the men say that
Not long after David returns to the front lines, some
men, including an old comrade from the POUM company, arrive in a
truck. They have orders to force the POUM members to surrender their
guns and disband. (They will be absorbed into other military units.)
How do the men and women in the company react? What is the outcome of
Near the end of the film, David takes a handful of
dirt from a graveside and wraps it in his red bandanna. Why are both
the dirt and the bandanna significant? What does the granddaughter do
with them at the end of the film?
Can you tell from the final scene if David renounced
his activism when he left Spain? (Think about the people gathered
around his grave.)
What seem to be the major sources of conflict between the P.O.U.M. and the
other leftist, Republican forces in the Catalonian area?
If David had been a real person, do you think he would have ever regretted
going to Spain to fight in the Civil War? Why?