La hora de los valientes (1998)  




Director:     Antonio Mercero.

Starring:     Gabino Diego (Manuel), Leonor Watling (Carmen), Adriana Ozores (Flora), Luis Cuenca (Melquíades), Héctor Colomé (Lucas), Ramón Agirre (Portero), Aten Soria (Filo), Juan José Otegui (Professor Miralles), Josep Maria Pou (Heliodoro), Txema Blasco (Cuñado Professor), Ramón Langa (Director Bellas Artes), Joan Gadea (Perez Rubio), Charo Zapardiel (Jefa Economato), Rafael Martín (Secretario Sindicato), Paco Sagarzazu (Jacinto).

No English or any subtitles.

a man and a woman try to save a Goya masterpiece amidst the violence of war


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

Spain.  There's lots of activity in the apartment complex.  A little boy named Pedro shows a canary to the pretty Carmen.  She lives with Myra and her husband.  They both come out to take a look at the canary.  After everyone has gone their own ways, an airplane drops a bomb on the apartment complex. 

Madrid, November 1936.  A man named Emil sits watching film of the bombing of Madrid.  A notice has arrived from Franco, the head of the armed forces for the fascists, addressed to the residents of Madrid.  The notice says that they have bombed only military targets, but this is belied by the number of apartment buildings having been hit and refugees fleeing the center city.  The notice goes on to say that further resistance will lead to further damage caused to the city.   

Emil speaks with Mateo.  A decision is made to move the paintings of the art museum to a safe place.  There's a number of Goya paintings among the collection, including The Third of May 1808.  An art specialist, Professor Miralles, takes the young fellow Manuel around the art museum to comment on the paintings while they still can.  After the art professor leaves, Manuel tries his hand at giving commentary.  He talks about Goya before The Third of May 1808 painting, but he gets no respect from the three Republican soldiers who listen to him.

The paintings on trucks travel in a convoy over a bridge.  They are headed out of Madrid and in the direction of Valencia (a little southeast of Madrid and on the coast of the Balearic Sea).  The paintings just got out in time for the air raid sirens go off in Madrid.  Manuel finds that one of the paintings by Goya (a self-portrait) has been left behind.  He too is left behind because the guard locks the doors from the outside.  Manuel sticks the paining underneath his shirt and goes out another exit. 

Manuel goes down into the subway like so many others residents of Madrid.  He is sitting next to Carmen who holds her hands over her ears.  He asks her where she lives and she starts crying.  He walks with her through the streets of Madrid.  He takes her to his apartment.  He lives in his Aunt Flora's apartment.  Manuel quietly opens the door and signals to Carmen to be very quiet.  He takes her to his room.  She puts her head down on the little table near the bed.  Manuel takes the Goya painting from under his shirt and places it in a wardrobe (a free-standing closet).

A man named Lucas sees Manuel go upstairs

 with a strange woman and he tells the landlord.  The landlord speaks to the servant Filo who also lives with Manuel's aunt, Flora.  The aunt is busy giving her son Pepito his bath in a tub.  The landlord says that there is some hussy (fulana) up in Manuel's room and that is not allowed.  Manuel enters the room and tells everyone that the girl is not some hussy.  Aunt Flora says the girl has to go.  Manuel explains that the girl's apartment complex was bombed and she lost all her relatives.  The landlord says she's a hussy or a prostitute and she has to go.  Flora also wants the girl gone.  Carmen comes to the doorwell and says:  "My name is Carmen."  She faints in a heap on the floor. 

Carmen wakes up in bed with Manuel and Flora fussing over her.  She takes some water, but won't take any medicine.  Manuel has been putting a salve on her right hand.  Her left hand is already bandaged up.  Flora's son rushes into the room and tells Carmen that his name is Pepito.  He has on his deceased father's military cap and  military boots.  Pepito says his father was a captain in the artillery and they shot him down.  Flora tells him that it's his bedtime.  Flora turns out the bedroom light so Carmen can sleep.  Before leaving the room Manuel opens his wardrobe and makes sure that the Goya painting is still there.  It is.  He says he will see Carmen tomorrow. 

Manuel sleeps in the hall outside Carmen's room.  This amuses Lucas.  Lucas goes into his apartment, takes off the top of a bed post, fills a stalking with gold jewelry and puts the stalking back into the hole in the bedpost.. Then he puts the top back on the bed post.  He removes his pistol from its holster and places it on the top of his chest of drawers.

In the morning Carmen awakens and sees the light from the window lighting up the Goya self-portrait.  She also sees Manuel sitting there staring at the painting.  She puts her robe on and goes over to him.  Now both of her hands are wrapped in gauze.   She sits next to Manuel and asks who is the man in the portrait?  Manuel says its the master Goya.  He then immediately goes into his museum docent spiel.  He stops himself realizing that Carmen must know who Goya is.  She says of course, she knows Goya. 

Manuel tells her that he works in the Prado art museum.  He says that he brought the paintingt home because he didn't want to have it destroyed in a bombing raid.  He has Carmen promise that she will tell no one about the painting.  She promises.  He touches her right hand, but in pain she pulls the hand away from him.  They both stare at the portrait. 

The art professor with his assistant looks at art paintings to make sure they are not forgeries.  Manuel knocks on the door and says that he wishes to see Professor Miralles.  He says it's an important matter.  The woman at the door asks him "important for whom?"  Important for the professor, for the art museum and for all of us.  The woman goes to tell the professor that the man at the door says he works in the art museum and his name is Manuel.  The professor tells her to let the young man in.  The assistant leaves.

Manuel comes in and greets the professor.  He says the professor has more statues than are found in a church.  He tells the professor that he has the self-portrait of Goya.  The professor gets an art book, finds a picture of the painting and asks Manuel if this is the painting he has in his apartment?  That's the one.  So, the professor says lets go get it. 

Carmen is on a long line waiting for food.  It looks like she is pregnant and a guard takes her up to the front of the line to get food.  The woman giving out food grows suspicious because Carmen keeps looking down.  She asks Carmen to raise up her dress.  Carmen starts to run, but the guards grab her and the woman takes a folded up rug from underneath Carmen's dress.  She then slaps Carmen across the face telling the guards to get her out of here. 

Manuel comes to see his grandfather.  On the radio is heard:  "Es hora de los valientes." (It's the hour of the brave.)   Grandfather gives him something to eat and then tries to get him to drink some type of concoction that Manuel refuses to drink.  Two Republican soldiers fire off their rifles from the second floor balcony.  They bring out a priest with a bloodied head and then the art professor.  They then throw down and onto a bonfire some paintings from the professor's collection of art.  Then the family group is put in the back of a truck and driven away. 

One boy pretends that he has captured two boys, one of them Pepito, as his prisoners and escorts them to a building and places them against the wall.  He then orders the firing squad ready, aim, fire.  One of the two smaller boys falls to the ground, but Pepito only bends over a little and does not fall.  When the bigger boys complain about his not playing dead, Pepito gets mad and stomps off.  Pepito returns home and sees Carmen crying.  Flora comes home and scolds Carmen.  She has her lift her head and Flora sees that Carmen has a black right eye.  Carmen says she was only trying to help the family get some more food.  Flora feels a bit sorry for Carmen but Carmen can't go around trying to fool people. 

Flora has brought home a good amount of beans. 

The neighbor thief named Lucas watches through a stained-glass window to see if  Manuel has the Goya painting with him.  Manuel

 unwraps it on the small table and the thief sees the painting. 

Pepito shows Carmen his stamp collection.  He has a lot of the pages filled with stamps.  And now he shows her his collection of different sized bullets in their cartridges.  Carmen plays a little rough-house with Pepito and makes him laugh.  Meanwhile, Manuel and grandfather sit and stare at the Goya self-portrait.  Flora sits on the bed nearby.  She is thinking that maybe they could turn the painting over to an art seller and get some money for that would help them in their tough situation.  Maybe they could sell it to Lucas.  Manuel believes that the art work belongs to the people and they have no right to sell it for money. 

After Flora and grandfather leave, Manuel goes up close to the painting and stares at it.  Flora goes next-door to ask a favor of Lucas.  She wants him to see if he can get a buyer for the little bit of jewelry she has.  He seems more interested in the two rings of gold on her hand.  He tries to kiss her, but she pushes him away.  She leaves his room, but he relents and says that he will give someone a telephone call.  He gives her the good news and she tells him thank you. 

In an apartment a man and his mother listen to the radio.  The doorbell rings.  He pulls off his robe, puts on an overcoat and goes down to the door on the first floor.  It's Flora.  She says she comes here because of Lucas.  The man lets her in and then looks around outside to see if anyone is there.  She gives him her jewelry, but he is not impressed.  He tells her the only thing she has of value are the two gold rings on her finger.  He takes the rings off her finger and places them next to the other jewelry, but Flora takes the two rings back.  He is surprised when she grabs the two rings off the desk. 

Grandfather goes into a warehouse and says he has a guy who wants to sell a Goya painting.  The fellows there don't believe that a friend of this old man could have possession of a Goya painting.  They laugh at him.  Just then a bomb explodes right by a wall of the warehouse.  Everyone ducks for cover.  Then they all run out, except for grandfather.  Another bomb drops in the street and explodes.  Grandfather is worried about Manuel and shouts out his name.  He rushes out into the street to find his grandson. 

The soldiers pull out one person and then Manuel.  The two related men are relieved to see each other. 

Soldiers come up looking for any valuables Flora and her family might have hidden.  The fellow in charge looks up and sees the painting hidden in plain sight.  He talks with grandfather about the painting without every knowing it is the master artist Francisco Goya.  The soldiers file out.  Everyone is so happy after the soldiers leave. 

Flora now puts Manuel in bed so he can recover from the bomb aftereffects.  Manuel keeps telling Carmen to stay with him.  He talks to her about how frightening the bombing was.  He thought about dying.  She puts her hand on top of his. He says he doesn't want to be alone.  She takes off her dress and hops in bed with him.  She has her bra and slip still on.  They kiss.  She says she loves him.  And he loves her. 

Manuel and Carmen get married.  After the ceremony they signthe marriage license.  Then the witnesses sign.  And now the husband can kiss his bride.  They have the reception at a long table under a tent in the outdoors.   Husband and wife dance.  Suddenly the sound of airplanes is heard.  The married couple keep dancing, while everyone else heads indoors.  From their viewpoint they can see the smoke rising from the city of Madrid.

The married couple return to the city.  Manuel shows Carmen the abandoned museum of art.  He tells her where the different paintings hang on the walls of the museum.  He describes the paintings for her.  They kiss. 

Lucas puts the Goya self-portrait in a suitcase and sneaks out the door.  Manuel and Carmen come to Flora and ask her where is the Goya masterpiece?  Flora doesn't know where it is.  Manuel is sure that Lucas has taken the painting. 

Manuel runs through the rain over to the warehouse where he was hurt by a bomb explosion.  He rings for the owner of the warehouse and says he's come about Lucas.  The owner lets him inside and he goes over to sit at his business desk.  Manuel is desperate to get the painting back and he pulls out a large cutting knife.  He sincerely looks like he is very willing to cut the owner if he doesn't get his Goya painting back.  The owner goes over to his huge safe and starts turning the knobs.  Inside the safe he has a small derringer.  The owner pulls the derringer out, but Manuel deflects the shot by pushing his hand away from himself.  Then Manuel knifes the man in the mid-section.  The guy falls back on a circular stair case and gasps for air.  Manuel drops the knife and goes into the safe after his painting. 

The Republican soldiers are fighting from behind a short wall of sand bags.  Manuel operates a machine gun in the fight. 

In the snow in Madrid Carmen is back on the food line and she is pregnant (for real this time).  She reads a letter she received from Manuel.  He tells her about his being at the front and he says that he loves her very much.  A guard comes along and tells Carmen to come with him.  They go up to the front of the line.  The lady that punched her the last time is still there.  She asks Carmen for her food pass.  The pass is good, but now the woman once again asks Carmen to raise her dress.  Carmen answers back that the clerk should life up her skirt (even though she's wearing pants).  The clerk decides not to fight and gives Carmen her the goods she deserves.

Carmen is sewing when Pepito comes in.  This time she has some cookies and milk she can give the little boy.  He's not so sure about the origin of the milk and hesitates to drink it.  Carmen gives him her assurance it's okay and the boy drinks the whole glass down quickly.  Now Pepito asks about what a companion is?  She sits the boy down on the bed and gets him to promise not to tell anyone about this.  He promises.  She tells him to keep his eyes shut and turned toward the wall.  Carmen goes over to the head piece for the baby's bed and she lifts up a front panel.  This exposes the Goya painting and Carmen pulls it out.  She now takes down one of the pictures on the wall and puts up the Goya painting instead.  Now Pepito can open his eyes.  He asks if that's her companion?  She says yes and he says the fellow in the painting is ugly.  Carmen laughs.  The boy asks for the name of the fellow and Carmen says it's Paco.  Now Pepito waves at and says hello to the man in the painting.  He says the fellow doesn't answer and Carmen says it's because he's deaf.

Carmen suddenly feels a sharp pain in her mid-section.  At about the same time an air-raid siren goes off.  Flora lights a small candle.  Pepito rushes in to tell his mother about Carmen and the baby.  Flora rushes to Carmen.  Pepito opens a window to see if he can see the airplanes.  Filo tells Pepito to close that window.  He talks back to her and she pushes him out into the hall by the stairs and locks the door behind her.  She is going to go back to work when Flora shouts for her to hurry up and get over here and help her with Carmen.

Pepito comes in via an unlocked door.  He hears the screams of Carmen.  He opens the bedroom door and goes inside.  There he stands against the wall and stares as if he were frozen.  Meanwhile, the bombs start exploding.  He sees the birth of the child.  When he hears the baby boy cry he gets excited again and has a big smile on his face. 

Meanwhile, Manuel runs back to the defensive line screaming about something.  The enemy shoots his cap off his head and he jumps down on the ground.  An officer jumps down beside Manuel to find out what the message is, only to be told that Manuel's wife just had a baby boy.  The young man is deliriously happy. 

Leaflets are dropped over Madrid, but they are not really leaflets.  It's small loaves of bread wrapped up in paper bags.  Carmen doesn't want to eat the bread because there may be something wrong with it.  Pepito smells it and then Carmen takes a couple of whiffs of the bread.  The two of them agree to eat just a little bit of the bread and Carmen tears off a piece of the small loaf and gives half of it to Pepito.  They taste the bread.  Pepito says it's good.  Grandfather comes up yelling for Filo.  Pepito and Carmen hide the fascist bread from grandfather.  Grandfather comes in and sees that Pepito is slowly eating something in his mouth.  He asks what's Pepito eating and Pepito says nothing.  Grandpa now picks up the bread wrapper and reads what the writing says on it.  He says it's Franco's bread.  Grandfather says the bread is poisoned.  So Pepito pulls out the small loaf of bread and tells grandfather that it tastes good and he should try some.  Grandpa tries a piece of it, likes it, and pulls off a big piece from the bread loaf. 

Pepito and two friends are playing outside.  One of the boys spots an unexploded bomb dangling from some wires.  The boys rush over to get a closer look at the bomb.  The other two boys run away, but Pepito says he's going up to get the bomb.  The two boys stop and look back and they start running again, but they soon hear and feel the blast of the bomb.  They turn around to look. 

Pepito is being buried today.  Flora cries over the casket.  The two men who dug the grave take the casket from her and put it in the graves.  Mom puts Pepito's cap into the grave.  The men now put the dirt over the casket.  As they do this, Manuel returns from the fighting. 

April 1, 1939.  The war has come to an end.  The bells are ringing and music is being broadcast over the radio.  It's the celebration of the victory of the fascists.  Manuel and the family stay in Flora's apartment.  The telephone rings in the hallway.  Manuel answers the phone but there is only silence on the other end of the line. 

Grandfather and Flora call out to Manuel who is in bed with his wife.  He gets up quickly.  It appears there's a group of Falangists going around Madrid looking for reds.  He quickly gets dressed.  He grabs the Goya painting from its hiding place. He starts to head downstairs, but he sees the Falangists coming up the stairs.  So Manuel goes up the stairway.  The Falangists force their way past Flora.  With them is the landlord.  And then in walks Lucas all dressed up in his Falangist uniform.  He asks where is Manuel?  Carmen says Manuel has already left.  Lucas asks the landlord who is lying:  she or you?  He, of course, says she is lying.  Lucas asks where is the Goya portrait?  All of a sudden, a shot is heard outside.  The Falangists run to the balcony and look out.  They see Manuel running down the street and a Falangist with a pistol in his hand. 

The Falangist in the street is told to run after Manuel, while the Falangists with Lucas all run down stairs.  Before Lucas leaves, Flora calls him a son of a bitch. 

Manuel just keeps running, trying to stay ahead of the man with a gun.  Lucas and his men go searching for Manuel in a car.  The fellow with the gun loses Manuel and he flags down the car with Lucas in it.  The guy jumps on the running board of the car and they go searching for Manuel.  It doesn't take long before they spot him running down the street alongside a high fence on his right.  He keeps running until he runs inside the art museum.  He returns the painting to its rightful spot on the museum wall.  He foolishly stops to talk to the portrait.  The men catch up with him, he yells long live freedom and then the Falangists shoot him down.  The order was given by Lucas.

Years later.  The museum is again opened and a guide talks about the paintings to a tour group.  He talks about the self-portrait of Goya.  As the group leaves, Carmen and her son come over to look at the self-portrait.   


Good movie.  It's not the best film among those dealing with the Spanish Civil War.  The film does show the deep divisions of the people for Franco or for the republic.  This division makes it very dangerous for Manuel, who is a republican who works in the Prado Museum of Art.  He has to be careful to avoid the different Fascist forces, such as the Falangists.  Because the Prado museum will most likely be bombed from the air, the curator has all the paintings moved out to Valencia, Spain.  Manuel, however, finds a Goya self-portrait left behind.  He decides to take care of the painting by taking it home with him.  His having the painting further complicates his life as various parties want the painting when they find out about it.  This puts Manuel and his wife Carmen in even greater danger. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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