Disappearance of Garcia Lorca (1997)

(a.k.a., Blood of the Poet, Death in Granada, Lorca)

 

 

Director: Marcos Zurinaga

Starring:  Esai Morales (Ricardo), Andy Garcia (Federico Garca Lorca), Edward James Olmos (Roberto Lozano), Jeroen Krabb (Col. Aguirre), Marcela Walerstein (Mara Eugenia), Miguel Ferrer (Centeno), Tony Plana (Marcos, Lorca's friend), Eusebio Lzaro (Vicente Fernndez), Jos Coronado (Nstor Gonzlez), Emilio Munoz (Casino), Marina Saura (Kocha Montero), Azucena De La Fuente (Clotilde), Ivonne Coll (Angelina Gonzlez), Carmen Zapata (Lorca's mother), William Marquez (Lorca's father).

Frederico Garcia Lorca was a Spanish poet and dramatist, painter, pianist, and composer.

 

 

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

Lorca was one of the first people killed during the Spanish Civil War in which a million people died.  The opening scene is of Lorca reciting part of a poem emphasizing 5 p.m., the time the civil war started. 

Puerto Rico 1954.  Ricardo has lived for eighteen years in Puerto Rico.  He often thinks about the country of his birth, Spain.  In a flashback scene, unaware of the oncoming conflict, Ricardo and his friend Marcos are two teenagers who have come to idolize the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca.  The youngsters attend the premiere of Lorcas play "Yerma" in Madrid in December 1934.  The play is very controversial and there are provokers in the audience.   They start a row, but the theatre managers manage to remove them from the theatre and the play continues. 

Lorca was feared by the conservatives because he attacked traditional Spanish values.  Ricardo remembers the Lorca was adored, worshipped and that Lorca was his hero.  Ricardo goes back stage and talks with Lorca.  The great poet tells him:  "Don't forget me".

Spanish Social Club, Puerto Rico.  Ricardo is writing a book on Spanish writers and he desperately wants to know exactly what happened to Lorca.  Franco killed him, but who pulled the trigger?  Ricardo knows that Lorca had returned to his home town, Grenada, and he wants to return there.   

Flashback.  Ricardo and Marcos learn that Lorca is in Grenada.  They decide to try and find him.  But just as they are searching, at 5 p.m. the forces of the conservatives launch a takeover of the town.  The boys do not immediately take cover and Marcos is shot and killed in the confusion.  The shooter did not realize that Marcos was only a boy.   This leaves Ricardo with a great deal of guilt for he feels it was partly his fault that Marcos is dead. 

A thug known as Centeno and his men grab a man on the lawn of Lorca's house and start beating him trying to find out where a certain Cortez is hiding.  Lorca tries to stop the beating, only to be knocked down with a blow to the stomach by Centeno. 

Puerto Rico.  Ricardo decides to return to Spain.  His father, who was beaten up by Franco thugs, thinks that Ricardo is crazy to go back and strenuously objects to his return to Franco land.  The family left Spain soon after the civil war started. 

Grenada, Spain.  A taxi driver known as Taxi takes an interest in Ricardo and drives him to various destinations.  Ricardo goes to the home of Colonel Aguirre, the father of his childhood friends Marcos and Mara Eugenia Aguirre and a man with a high position under Franco.  The Colonel is very happy to see him and warmly welcomes him to his home.  Ricardo then sees the now very beautiful Mara Eugenia.  She asks him why he never wrote back to answer the many letters she sent him.  He says that he was older than she and that she was only 10 or 12 years old.  Both father and daughter want to know why he came back.  Mara Eugenia suddenly realizes that Ricardo has returned to find out what happened to Lorca.  She gives him a lead.  Go see a man named Nstor Gonzlez at the club Ray Chico. 

At the club Nstor Gonzlez tells Ricardo that he knows he has come to ask him about Lorca.  He says: "You better leave".  But later in the bathroom, Nstor tells Ricardo a few things about Lorca.  Lorca could have saved his own life by leaving, but he refused.  The poet was obsessed with death and knew that he would die violently.  Nstor says that he tried to protect Lorca.  He went to Lorca's home and brought him to his house.  There Centeno and Roberto Lozano arrested Lorca and threw him in jail.  Nstor was unable to get Lorca out of jail.  He tells Ricardo that Lozano said "Lorca is a danger to all of us". 

Ricardo talks with the gypsy queen Nacha.  He doesn't get much information from her except that Lorca wrote some of his works in the club.  But a prostitute says she will tell Ricardo about Lorca later.  But when Ricardo shows up to talk with the prostitute, he finds that she has been badly cut in the face by persons unknown.  Ricardo thinks it might have been Centeno and his friends.  The young writer then returns to talk with Nacha.  She tells him that during the start of the civil war the army had moved into the city and shot some people.  But after they had fully taken the city, they started killing lots of people.  She tells Ricardo to talk with the bull fighter Gabino because he was with Lorca near the end. 

Ricardo receives a phone call from Roberto Lozano.  Lozano says he wants Ricardo to visit him in Madrid at his printing company.  He adds that he will call him later with the final details for the meeting. 

Ricardo sees Mara Eugenia at her home.  He starts to snoop around the Colonel's office.  Mara Eugenia comes in and tells him he should not be in her father's office.  He tells her that her dad has on his wall a commendation he received from Hitler's Third Reich.  Mara Eugenia is very upset that Ricardo is casting aspersions on her father.  She tells him:  "My dad is all I've got.  You better go now.  Good night".  Ricardo leaves. When the Colonel arrives he finds his daughter crying. 

Ricardo sees Lozano.  The publisher shows Ricardo Volume I of Lorca's Complete Works that he is publishing.  He says he is a great admirer of Lorca and his work.  But didn't you arrest him?  Lozano answers no.  He says he befriended Lorca and that he was protecting him.  Lozano says he was trying to protect Lorca on the night that he was arrested.  Lorca looked vulnerable, frightened.  As Lorca and Lozano were trying to leave, Centeno and his men arrived and arrested Lorca.  Lozano says he was given assurances from Nstor Gonzlez that Lorca would be protected.  But the fascists had other ideas.  He was sent to Visnar where they shot him. 

Someone calls the Colonel about Ricardo's activities.  The Colonel responds: "If he's a problem, then we have a problem".   Later two thugs grab and beat Ricardo and tell him to go home or else. 

The Colonel virtually keeps his daughter a prisoner in her own home.  Ricardo, however, uses one of her friends to get a message to Mara Eugenia about where they can meet.  Taxi has been continually warning Ricardo that what he is doing is dangerous.  He is afraid that Ricardo is going to be really hurt or killed.  But he agrees to drive Ricardo to visit one of  Nstor's sisters.  She was there when they took Lorca away from her home. 

Ricardo receives another beating with Centeno in charge.  Taxi and Mara Eugenia are able to whisk him away.  Mara Eugenia tells him that they could have killed him.  She asks Ricardo if it really matters who killed Lorca.  Later Ricardo and Mara Eugenia have sex.  Lying in bed some thugs break in and grab Ricardo and Mara Eugenia and take them to the jail.  Her father is there at the jail.  They take his daughter home and the Colonel starts to question Ricardo.  He tells Ricardo that he is opening deep wounds.  He has  put everyone's life in danger by his trying to find out who actually killed Lorca.  Ricardo responds with "What did you do that night?"  The Colonel acts morally indignant.  He releases Ricardo. 

Ricardo receives a telephone call from his father, in which his dad tells him to leave Spain immediately.  Mara Eugenia and Taxi pick him up.  He agrees to return to Puerto Rico, but he just needs two more hours.  They take him to a bull fight.  Ricardo is determined to see the bull fighter Gabino before he leaves for Puerto Rico.  The Colonel and Centeno and his men show up at the bull fight and search for Ricardo.  Ricardo is able to talk with Gabino.  Gabino admits that he was there at the last moments of Lorca:  "I was one of them."  Lorca looked at him and he had to turn away from his gaze.  Lorca was forced with others to the bottom of  small ridge of land. 

Centeno and his men show up and Ricardo has to fight them.  He escapes but Centeno follows him.  Centeno tries to shoot Ricardo but Ricardo gets control of the gun.  He threatens to shoot Centeno and the man starts telling Ricardo that he did not shoot Lorca.  He tells Ricardo what happened.  The two men nearest Lorca are shot to death.  Centeno then puts the gun to the back of Lorca's head.  He tells the poet to turn around.  Centeno then places the gun against Lorca's chest.  But he can't pull the trigger.  The Colonel is there and he demands that Centeno shoot Lorca.  When Centeno still hesitates, the Colonel shoots Lorca in the chest.  But Lorca does not die immediately.  The Colonel shouts for the other men there to shoot Lorca to share in the blame for killing the great poet.  No one responds.  Then the Colonel gets his good friend, Ricardo's father, and pushes him over to Lorca and demands that he shoot Lorca.  He keeps shouting at Ricardo's father and, after a bit of hesitation, Ricardo's father shoots Lorca dead.  He is so close to the poet that he gets blood on his face and shirt. 

Ricardo suddenly realizes that the blood he saw on his father's shirt the night he was supposedly beaten by Franco's people was actually not his own blood; it was the blood of Lorca.  The two fathers, the Colonel and his own father, had killed Lorca.  Ricardo puts the gun up to his own head and screams, but he does not pull the trigger.

Puerto Rico, 1962.  Mara Eugenia and Ricardo are at a party with their children and Ricardo's parents.  Ricardo looks over at his father, the man who killed his hero Lorca, and his father looks at him.  They both know that they both know what really happened to Lorca.  

 

No one really knows who were the actual men who killed Lorca.  It is still a mystery.  So the movie is given the chance to present a possibility.  No, one does not learn a great deal about Lorca.  But the mystery story of the search for the killers of Lorca does keep your interest.  The tension is maintained because persons known and unknown are trying to prevent the journalist Ricardo from finding out who are the real killers.  These men are protecting those who think their own lives would be put in danger if it was known publicly that they were the ones who killed Lorca.  So, as long as you know you are not going to get to know Lorca very well, this is a good movie. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

1873  --  King Amadeus abdicates. 

1873-1874  --  the First Spanish Republic. 

1874-1885  --  collapse of the Republic.

1875  --  King Alfonso XII rules. 

1885  --  King Alfonso XIII (1886-1941) rules.

1898  --  Federico Garca Lorca born in the village of Fuente Vaqueros, Granada, Spain. 

1909  --  the family moved to the city of Granada where he became involved in local artistic circles. 

1918  --  published his first collection of poems, Impresiones y paisajes.

1919  --  he moved to the famous Residencia de estudiantes in Madrid where he was friends with artists Luis BuZuel and Salvador Dal.

1919-1920  --  Gregorio Martnez Sierra, the Director of Madrid's Teatro Eslava, invited him to write a play.  The result was El maleficio de la mariposa.  It ran for only four performances because the subject matter, love between a cockroach and a butterfly was seen as ludicrous by the audiences. 

1923  --  after an army coup, King Alfonso XIII named Primo de Rivera the prime minister.  He quickly established a dictatorship.

1927 his second play Mariana Pineda opened to great acclaim in Barcelona.

1928 published Romancero Gitano ("Gypsy Ballads"), which became his best known book of poetry.

end of the 1920s  --  he grew increasingly depressed because of the anguish he felt over having to conceal his homosexuality.

1929-1930  --  his family, worried about his depression, arranged a lengthy tour of the United States.  The trip proved a catalyst for his writing: a collection of poems and two plays. 

1930  --  the fall of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.

1930  --  Lorca returned to Spain.

1931-1939  -- the re-establishment of the Spanish Republic, this time known as the Second Spanish Republic. 

1931  --  Garca Lorca appointed Director of the government-sponsored student theatre company, La Barraca.  The purpose of the theatre company was to introduce rural audiences to 'classic' Spanish theatre.  During this period, Lorca wrote his most famous plays. 

1933  --  General Francisco Franco given the military command of the Balearic Islands

1934  --  Franco put in command of suppressing a revolt in Asturias among the miners; it only took two weeks.

1935  --  Franco given the top military post in Spain, Chief of the General Staff. 

1936 (Feb.)  --  by a narrow margin, the left wins the election.  The left sends Franco to command in the Canary Islands. 

1936 (July)  --  the African army revolts; Franco flies to Africa.  The coup fails, but the civil war begins.  Franco asks for and gets help from the two Fascist governments under Hitler and Mussolini.

1936  --  Lorca heads from Madrid to Granada where his brother-in-law was the socialist mayor.  He and his brother-in-law are arrested.

1936 (August 19)  --  Lorca was executed, shot by Falange militia and thrown into an unmarked grave near Granada.

1939  (March)  --  the Second Spanish Republic falls.  Franco becomes the dictator of Spain. 

1975  --  the death of Franco; Lorca's works could not be openly discussed in Spain until this time. 

 

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