Butterfly (1999)



Director:   Jos Luis Cuerda.

Starring:  Manuel Lozano (as Moncho), Elena Fernndez (Carmina ), Fernando Fernn Gmez (Don Gregorio), Uxa Blanco (Rosa), Alexis de los Santos (Andrs), Guillermo Toledo (Otis), Tatn (Roque Padre), Celso Parada (Macias), Antonio Lagares (Alcalde), Lara Lpez (Aurora), Diego Vidal (Romualdo), Manuel PiZeiro (Trumpet), Manuel Seara (Sax Player), Antonio Prez (Singer), Jose F. Expolio (Tight Rope Walker), Gonzalo Uriarte (Ramn), Jess Castejn (D. Avelino), Tamar Novas (Roque), Roberto Vidal BolaZo (Boal), Celso Bugallo (Cura), Milagros Jimnez (Nena), Alberto Castro (Jose Maria), Xos Manuel Olveira 'Pico' (Accordeon), Alfonso Cid (Sax Player), Jos Ramn Vieira (String Bass), Eduardo Gmez (Hombre pajarito sabio), Eva Mara Fernndez (Neighbour #1), Fely Manzano (Neighbour #2), Golfo (Tarzan).

 fascism didn't mean much until they started rounding up people


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

Moncho is a young boy who doesn't want to go to school.  He has heard from somewhere that teachers hit their students and he is afraid.  But to school he has to go, says his mother.  She takes him early so she can talk with the teacher Don Gregorio to tell him to please watch out for her son. The teacher will try to do his best.  The teacher calls on Moncho to tell the class his name.  He says Sparrow, which brings a big laugh from his classmates.  The teacher has Moncho come up to the desk and he asks him for a different name, but Moncho just gets even more afraid, starts peeing in his pants, gets an even bigger laugh this time from his classmates and then runs out of the school.  Moncho just keeps on running until he heads into the woods. 

A search party has to be sent out for Moncho.  His older brother Andres is the one who finds him and brings him back home.  Back at school, Moncho meets a nice girl named Aurora.  And he gets a new friend Roque.  Roque asks Moncho to go with him to follow a too talkative fellow who is going to go have sex with a woman named Carmina.  The kids watch as the two adults start to have sex in a shed.  The dog Tarzan keeps barking at them and the man puts the dog outside, but this makes Carmina mad and she gets up to find her dog.  The guy leaves.  The show is over.

Mongo's brother Andres is offered a job to play the saxophone with the Blue Orchestra.  Andres jumps at the chance and Moncho tags along.  The band has a gig at the carnival and Andres goes along.  His mother and father and Moncho are in the audience dancing.  Unfortunately, it starts to rain.

Don Gregorio takes the school kids for a nature walk where they discuss butterflies and other creatures.  Moncho starts to have an asthma attack and Don Gregorio dunks him under in a cold stream which puts an end to the attack.  Moncho's father, a tailor, is very grateful for the teacher's help and he decides to make a suit for Don Gregorio.  Dad is a Republican and a member of the AzaZa Party. 

Carmina knocks on the door for Moncho's dad.  She tells him that she needs money to bury her mother who recently died.  He gets the money for her.  (The woman is his daughter by her mother before dad married his present wife.)  Andres tells Moncho that she is a slut. 

April 14, 1936.  Moncho's family attends a Republican picnic.  His wife is worried when she sees the Civil Guards pass by on horseback. 

The Orchestra Blue gets a job out of town and Andres and Moncho go along.  The two boys sleep in the home of an older man.  He has a young girl with him who Andres takes an immediate liking to because she looks a bit Chinese and he has a fondest for Asian women.  They inquire about his daughter to find out that she is actually his wife.  Both boys are very shocked.  They latter see her at the dance party, but she is quickly whisked away by the old man.  As they leave town on a bus, she waves good-bye to them from the roadside.   She looks very depressed. 

On the radio, Minister Robles is quoted as saying that Spanish democracy is dead.  Another minister agrees with him. 

Roque and Moncho decide to trail the same fellow who previously went up to Carmina's place.  He is carrying a long stick with a sharpened point.  When the dog starts barking at him and approaching him, the man thrusts the stick down the throat of the dog killing him.  The man then runs away.  Carmina comes out of her house and bursts into tears when she sees her poor dog. 

Bad news.  A military uprising has occurred in Africa.  The boys see four people exchange the fascist Heil Hitler salute amongst themselves. It looks as though the fascist are coming to power.  At night the two boys see the fascists taking people away from their homes. 

A crowd gathers in a large square.  Those who have been picked up as political radicals are to be paraded out one by one and put in the back of a large truck.  The prisoners start coming out to shouts of:  Red!  Son of a Bitch! Traitor! and even Atheist! 

Moncho's mother starts shouting the slurs at the men.  She is afraid that her Republican husband will be arrested.  She gets Andres to shout some slurs and then her husband (who cries when he shouts). 

Moncho is very confused when people who he knows and even loves start to walk the walk of shame.  He is taken aback when he sees the father of his friend Roque walk to the truck.  And then, even worse, his teacher Don Gregorio has to make the walk.  Moncho's mother tells Moncho to shout disapproval of  the men, including his teacher.  After a bit of hesitation, Moncho starts shouting the slurs.  Then he joins with the other boys when they pick up stones and start throwing them at the truck as it pulls away from the public square. 

What's the next step?  Is Moncho going to join a Franco Youth like the kids in Germany joined the Hitler Youth?  It seems to be a possibility. 


Good movie.  It starts out as a nice coming of age picture.  The little kid Moncho learns to respect his teacher and enjoy school.  His friend Roque introduces him to the world of adult sex by having him accompany him to spy on two adults having sex.   Moncho also learns to start having a relationship with a special girl, Aurora.  This cheerful, wonderful world is suddenly turned upside down by the start of the Spanish Civil War.  Now their father has to worry about whether he will be taken by the police late at night and the children also have to worry about this.  From a nice, peaceful world, Moncho is suddenly asked to hurl shouted slurs at his once beloved teacher Dog Gregorio in order to prove that his father and family are not Republicans, but fascists.  Moncho suddenly abandons his peaceful world for one filled with fascist hate.  Will poor Moncho be able to weather the storm of fascism and become a decent, mature adult or will he be permanently scarred by the fascism of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco?   

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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