El viaje de Carol (Carol's Journey) (2002)





Director:     Imanol Uribe.

Starring:     Clara Lago (Carol),  Juan Jos Ballesta (Tomiche),   lvaro de Luna (Don Amalio),  Mara Barranco (Aurora),  Carmelo Gmez (Adrin),  Rosa Maria Sard (Maruja),  Alberto Jimnez (Alfonso),  Lucina Gil (Dolores),  Daniel Retuerta (Culovaso),  Andrs de la Cruz (Cagurrio),  Luna McGill (Blanca),  Andrs Lima (Donato),  Carlos Manzanares (Daniel),  Carlos Kaniowsky (Don Julio),  Ana Villa (Chana ).

Carol is Spanish-American from NYC, but her dad fights in the Spanish Civil War; she & her mother go to Spain



Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.  And a couple of curse words. 


Carol is traveling on a train with her mother Aurora.  Across from her is an altar boy named Pebbles, who travels with a priest.  At their destination Aurora's father waits at the train station for them to arrive.  Carol and Aurora arrive and grandfather welcomes them.  He takes them to the place where they will be living, Aurora's childhood home.  (Grandfather lives at the spa where there are a lot of older people.)  Along the way Peebles and two other boys, Tomiche and Cagurrio, are riding their bikes on the road.  With a sling shot Tomiche kills a bird and it falls onto the road.  This makes Carol mad and she throws a block of wood at him.  This makes Tomiche mad and he rides his bike close enough to talk with Carol.  Carol calls him a coward, so Tomiche grabs her hat off her head and keeps it.

The small family goes to visit grandmother's grave.  Carol asks grandpa why was her mother fighting with grandmother?  He says she is too young for this.  She says her grandparents in New York tell her important things -- they don't lie to her.  So granddad tells her that when her mother went with her father, she jilted her fiance and grandmother never forgave her. 

At the house Carol meets Chana, the maid who has trouble speaking.  By herself Carol takes a stroll around the grounds.  Down by the dam on the river, she sees the three boys that she saw earlier playing.  She turns and goes back. 

Mother has received a letter from the front from her husband, Robert.  For a fee a Portuguese smuggler takes letters back and forth from families to soldiers at the front. 

Carol now meets Maruja, an older woman who was Aurora's teacher and who later became her best friend.  The family is headed out to Villablanca.  There are two guards at the gate, but they let grandfather in without any problem.  At Villablanca they have dinner with Aurora's sister Delores and her husband Adrian (who was the fiance jilted by Aurora).  Also at the table are the mayor of the town, Alfonso (a policeman in something like the German Gestapo) and Carol's two cousins, a girl and a boy. Dolores says that she and her family left Madrid, July 18, 1936.  Alfonso said that the forces of Franco are about to liberate Madrid.  He then asks Aurora what she thinks about all these International Brigades that have come to fight for the Spanish republic?  She answers that she doesn't care about the war going on.   

After dinner Adrian dances with Aurora.  Later they go out on a patio.  Dolores hears her sister laughing loudly and doesn't like it one bit.  Carol and her girl cousin go to take a look at the two on the patio.  Adrian tells Aurora that she never even said goodbye to him when she left.  Aurora says she knows that was bad, but in her defense she was pregnant at the time and a bit pre-occupied.  Adrian tells her that her sister really bores him. 

The next morning Carol watches from a window as her mother and Adrian go for a car ride.  At dinner, Carol is noticeably unhappy, which worries her mother.  Mom finally tells her daughter that she knows why Carol is mad at her.  Carol just says she is going to bed.  Mom lets her go, but before she leaves, Aurora asks her to ask her grandfather if he would please come and live with them.  Mom is lonely. 

Aurora goes to talk with her best friend Majura.  She tells her that Robert and she have drifted apart.  One reason for this is that, as a commercial airline pilot, he would often be away for long periods of time.  About Carol, mom just says she is going through a difficult stage of life.  Mom then suddenly blurts out to her friend:  "I'm, dying Maruja."  Indeed, mom came home to die. 

Grandpa goes looking for Carol.  He finally finds her sitting up in a tree.  He has brought a new bicycle for her.  Carol is pleased. 

Carol goes for a bike ride and runs into those same three boys.  Tomiche still has her hat.  They stop when they see Carol sitting on the side of the road by her new bike.  Tomiche starts to come over to Carol.  She blurts out:  "Give me my hat!"  Tomiche offers it to her but plays the bullfighter and pulls the hat away from her as she reaches out for it.  She calls him a fag and jumps on Tomiche.  Tomiche, of course, gets the best of her and asks the guys if he should kill her?  But he relents and lets her up.  Carol approaches him, kicks him right in the balls and takes her hat back.  Now she rides away on her bike as the two guys try to comfort  the groaning Tomiche.

Carol looks a mess as she approaches her home.  Maruja notices her condition and asks her to come up for awhile.  Upstairs Carol tells her the story, including the kicking incident.  They both have a good laugh about the balls incident.  Maruja shows Carol her little greenhouse.  She has quite a few caterpillars there, the kind used in the production of silk. 

At night Carol hears people talking.  She goes downstairs to see what's up.  Aurora and her father are talking to the Portuguese letter smuggler. 

Carol is teaching Chana to read and write. Carol tells Chana she will be right back.  She goes to see where her mother is.  She is sleeping on a swinging-bench outside.  So Carol sneaks back into the house and she gets the letter that her mother recently received.  She reads it and finds out that dad is with one of the International Brigades.  She then reads her mother's letter she is writing to Robert.  She says that she loves Robert.  This make Carol happy.  After catching up on the news, Carol walks out to see her mother, who still sleeps.  As she approaches her mother, however, she realizes that mother is dead.  

Carol asks grandfather to swear to her that he will not tell her father that mother is dead.  Grandpa says that is too much to ask of him, but he does swear.  Then he asks her to promise him that she will obey her aunt and uncle, with whom she will be living.  Later Carol goes to visit her mother's grave.  Tomiche sees her and comes over to her.  This time, however, he is nice to Carol.  He wants to bury the hatchet with her.  Tomiche even gives her a young bird he caught.  She lets the bird fly away and when Tomiche asks her what's she doing, she says he gave the bird to her and she wanted it to be free.

Tomiche and Carol walk together.  He has a dead pigeon tied to his belt.  (His poor mother cooks pigeons and they eat them.)  They come across a policeman, actually Tomiche's uncle.  He asks where Tomiche got that pigeon?  He adds that he got it off the Villablanca property, no doubt. Carol saves Tomiche from trouble by telling the policeman that her uncle gave Tomiche permission to hunt pigeons on his property.  The uncle seems disappointed that he has to let Tomiche go, as if Carol's words cost him the joy of punishing his nephew (his sister's boy). 

Maruja teaches some of the children in the village in her home.  Tomiche comes for his lesson and gives Maruja an apple pie his mother made for her.  Tomiche has to write an essay for his teacher.  After school is over, Tomiche asks dating advice from Maruja.  Maruja says it's always nice to break the ice by telling a girl that she is pretty. 

Carol is with her girl cousin when the three boys ride up.  Tomiche has Cagurrio walk over to Carol to ask her if she wants to go with them.  Carol wants to go, but her cousin says she wants to go with her.  Cagurrio tells the small girl that she can't go with them.  Carol is disappointed.

Out on a big meadow, the three guys and Carol (with her cousin with her) are smoking cigarettes.  Carol is smoking for her first time and she coughs a lot.  The gang plays by rolling down a rather steep hill.  Tomiche uses the opportunity to tell Carol that she is very pretty.  

The two girls return home late and Carol's aunt balls out her daughter, and when Carol says it was her fault, she balls out Carol too.  Up in the bedroom the cousin tells Carol that she likes her living with them because Carol is like a big sister to her.  As she looks up, she notices that Carol has disappeared.  The cousin looks out the window and sees Carol climbing down the trellis.  Carol takes her bike and away she goes.  She rides her bike over to the spa and looks into the window.  There she sees grandpa playing cards with his friends.  Grandpa goes outside to talk with her. 

Carol asks her grandfather to come with her, so she can live in grandfather's house, instead of with her aunt and uncle at Villablanca.  Grandpa tells her that he just doesn't want to leave his friends at the spa.  He is having too much fun there.  Carol gets really mad at grandpa.  She calls him:  "Selfish!"  As she starts to ride away on her bike, grandpa relents and agrees to the idea.  As Carol goes to hug him, she says:  "I knew you'd say yes."

Carol gets a letter from her father to her mother.  She opens it and reads that her father just loves getting letters from Aurora.  He also says the situation is worsening for them and the morale of their group is getting low.

Carol visits Maruja.  She wants Maruja to write a letter for her as her mother Aurora would and send it to father.  Maruja doesn't like the idea, but Carol tells her that her father is all alone.  So Maruja writes the letter for Carol.  She writes in the letter that she sprained the wrist of her writing hand in order to cover up for why the letter looks different from Aurora's previous letters.  In the letter "Aurora" says that Maruja is writing the letter for her. 

Carol and Tomiche go over to the smuggler at a local bar and Tomiche gives the letter to him.   The smuggler tells the two of them to never again give him a letter in a public place.  Someone might see them. 

At night Carol and Tomiche see Alfonso and his crew talking to a man.  The man gets in his truck and follows the policemen's car.  Carol wonders where they are going and Tomiche tells her that they are going to get drunk.  And then they will take some unfortunate men out to a meadow and shoot them in the head. 

Carol is having a birthday party.  Everyone is there, except for Tomiche and his friends.  Carol delays the cake ceremony as much as she can, but now she can't delay anymore.  Luckily, the boys show up.  Just as Carol is about to blow out the lighted candles,  a republican biplane flies over their heads.  She yells out:  "It's my father!"  The priest rings the bell announcing what he thinks is an air raid.  Carol shouts out for daddy, which shocks Aunt Dolores.  On the road Alfonso gets out and starts firing shots at the plane until Adrian informs him that the plane is carrying a white flag.  And it is Carol's dad.  He drops a package tied to a little parachute.  Carol is able to catch the package as it comes toward the ground.  She opens the package and sees a home-made model of daddy's plane. She if very happy. 

Also in the package is a letter to Carol from her father.  He tells her that he knows about the death of her mother.  Grandfather told him and he did the right thing, dad says, so don't blame grandfather.  He adds that the war will be ending soon and they will be together again. 

Aunt Dolores wants to have Carol take her first communion  in the Catholic church.  Grandfather says the problem is that Carol is Protestant.  So the priest asks Carol if she would like to take first communion.  Very quickly, Carol just says yes. Everyone is relieved.  In church for the first communion, Carol is about to have the wafer placed on her tongue, when an announcement is made.  Madrid has fallen to the forces of Franco. The priest stops the ceremony because of the important news.  The war is over! 

Now the bad news comes.  Political parties and workers' unions are declared illegal.  Franco's portrait is being put up in all public places, as well as elsewhere.  Grandfather looks out his window and sees a huge sign honoring Franco across the road from him.  The sign says that Franco is God's and the country's caudillo (big boss).  Grandfather is not happy.  Gramps realizes that he must get rid of all his republican literature.  He starts burning this literature in his fireplace. 

Alfonso appears on the street.  He speaks to a very small crowd of people.  Alfonso tells the people that he wants them to give their leaders a very enthusiastic welcome.  Someone says:  "Long lire fucking Franco!"  An angry Alfonso demands to know who said that, but, of course, no one will admit it.

Carol has Tomiche give the smuggler a letter for her father.  The smuggler tells the boy that no more letters are being delivered.  He adds:  "Get out of here!"  To cheer up Carol, Tomiche tells her: "I bet your father escaped."

Walking home at night, Tomiche's sadistic uncle grabs him and tells him:  "Now let's settle some scores."  His partner tells him to let the boy go, but the uncle outranks him.  Tomiche has to go with uncle into the police station. 

A group of soldiers get off the train under the watchful eye of an officer.  The officer notices that one man is missing from the formation.  He turns around to see who it is and notices a soldier walking the opposite way.  The officer takes out his gun, tells the soldier to stop and when the fellow starts running, the officer shoots at him. 

Carol comes home and finds her father talking to grandfather in the kitchen.  She is ecstatic.  And dad is very happy to see her too.  When dad sleeps she watches him for awhile and then lays down beside him. 

Carol goes to speak to Tomiche.  She immediately notices the huge black right eye that Tomiche has.  Yes, it was the work of the boy's uncle. 

Alfonso and his men start searching Carol's house.  Adrian is with them.  They don't find the soldier, but they do find an army hat, part of the disguise the escapee used.  Alfonso and Adrian say he's probably trying to escape via the river.  They both hurry down to the river. 

Carol and Tomiche come to Carol's house.  Guards are watching the front of the house.  Carol explains that this is her house and she and Tomiche are allowed to go in.  Chana does some primitive sign language to tell the two that Carol's dad ran down to the river.  Tomiche and Carol run down close to the river.  Tomiche tells her to stay back and he will find her father.  Alfonso is also busy trying to find the escaped prisoner of war.  Then Carol sees Adrian coming her way and she runs back to the house. 

Tomiche finds Carol's dad.  Now he is going to take him to cross over the dam to the other side of the river.  Adrian sees them crossing the dam and so does Carol.  Carol calls out for her daddy, but Adrian doesn't fire his weapon.  Unfortunately, Alfonso does fire his weapon.  Tomiche and dad both fall into the river.  A little while later dad comes up from the water.  He picks up Tomiche's limp body out of the river and slowly walks up and onto the river back.  Tomiche is dead and Carol is in shock.

Carol is going back to New York City.  She tells the family goodbye.  Carol also says goodbye to a crying Chana.    Grandfather is going to drive her to the port of Lisbon.  Majura says goodbye to Carol.  She gives Carol Tomiche's sling shot courtesy of Tomiche's mother.

On the ride Carol asks grandfather to come with her to New York.  He says he can't leave his friends, but he will promise to come and see her in New York.  All of a sudden two of the three boy appear behind the car yelling goodbye to Carol.  Carol imagines an alive Tomiche riding ahead of the other two boys to say goodbye to her. 


 Another good film about the Spanish Civil War.  This film shows the effect of the war on two youngsters who fall in love with each other.  Tomiche's father was killed by a kind of Spanish Gestapo and Carol's is with one of the International Brigades fighting for the Spanish republic against Gen. Franco's fascist forces.  The young people face a great many dangers in the town that is controlled by the fascists.  For instance, they notice the Spanish Gestapo taking people away to be shot in the head for some political crime.  We also see some of the changes that occur in the now fascist Spain.  Free speech and unions are definitely a thing of the past now.  And Franco's picture is put up everywhere around the nation.  How depressing for the people who wanted a democratic Spain to continue.  Even after the war is over, there are still great dangers facing the two young people.  This is especially true when Carol's father shows up one day.  The acting was good all around. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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