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Amazing Film About Spanish Anarchist Militia Women
on December 26, 2004
I heard about Vicente Aranda's magnificent film "Libertarias" ("Freedomfighters") shortly after I first heard of Ken Loach's "Land and Freedom". In this film, instead of the retelling of the George Orwell "Homage to Catalonia" story, we instead follow the lives of a group of anarchist CNT militia women at the opening phase of the Spanish Civil War, some liberated from a brothel, and some former nuns liberated from a church. The two movies have some similarities - both are based around the Spanish Revolution that occurred during the Spanish Civil War... but there as a far greater focus on the anarchist state of mind in this film. It also does not shy away from the issue of free love, of the Revolution's effects on the minds of liberated religious people, or even mysticism, as in one curious scene where an old anarchist ghost is channeled through a woman in a trance - the grumpy spirit criticizes the anarchist militia hero, Durruti, and tells the militants how to defeat a nearby enemy.
This film is a lot of fun. Originally I was a little put off by the less serious "feel" of the characters in the film than I initially expected (Prostitutes? Nuns? Sex?) ...but as the film took it's course I could see how different threads - the war, personal transformation, feminism, catholicism, anti-fascism, sexual feelings, and anarchist direct action - were all woven together quite cleverly.
As with Loach's "Land and Freedom", don't expect a happy ending in this film - we all know who won the Spanish Civil War! But this movie helps us see deeply into the world of the left libertarians who resisted Franco and Fascism and dared to imagine a more free, more libertarian world than the one we have today.