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From the Video Shop: Al sur de Granada [South from Granada]

2003 - Spain - 111 minutes

Writers - Fernando Colomo and Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy

Based upon the book by Gerald Brenan

Director - Fernando Colomo

Internet Movie Database User Rating - 6.5/10 (Link to IMDB)

My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars


This beautiful film is based upon a memoir of Gerald Brenan who was a member of England's Bloomsbury Group. It is the story of a randy young man who completely immerses himself in the lives and culture of a small Spanish town shortly after WWI. Brenan, throughout his long life, was an adventurer and traveler who seemed to have had the enviable ability to absorb and learn from all of his varied experiences.

The movie begins with Brenan trooping through the Spanish countryside to reach a small town where he has obtained a house. His greeting from the locals cannot be considered warm but still not hostile. His intent is to read, write, and absorb the culture of this town that is somewhat of a throwback to the previous century - not something really unusual considering this is rural Spain in the 1920's. As time passes, he becomes more of a member of the community but is still seen as a curious oddity by many of the residents.

Brenan's fascination and admiration of the people and their culture was clearly evident. He and his writings became admired by the Spanish people and recognized by the Spanish government.

This film is particularly enjoyable because it is  evocative of the unique period in Europe between the wars when so many artists shed the constraining straightjacket of Victorianism for an enlightened, erotic freedom of expression. Matthew Goode who plays Brenan is perfect as a young man freed from the oppression of war and the oppression of society to explore all the educational and erotic pleasures available. He is supported by an excellent cast of Spanish actors - the men portraying character and strength, the women exemplifying emotion and dark, sensuous passion.

I may be a bit prejudiced in my liking for this film. If I could pick another time and place to live my life, I would choose that time between the wars in Europe, so I tend to lap up any book or film depicting that period. Even if you are not as enamored as I am of that time, I think you will find Al sur de Granada worthwhile entertainment.



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