In 1973, Spain is still under the thumb of Generalisimo Francisco Franco, the Fascist dictator who has rule...
In 1973, Spain is still under the thumb of Generalisimo Francisco Franco, the Fascist dictator who has ruled the country since 1939. Still, most knowledgable Spaniards know he hasn't long to live, and his equally repressive right-hand man Carrero Blanco (Agapito Romo) is in line to take over. A cell of the ETA, a Basque terrorist organization, has decided to kidnap Blanco and hold him for ransom. The hot-headed revolutionary Txabi (Eusebio Poncela) strongly urges assassination; the more cool-headed Izarra (Gian Maria Volonte) argues that Blanco is worth more dead than alive. When their leader Yoseba (Feodor Atkine) is gunned down by Spanish police, and when Blanco is promoted to Prime Minister, kidnapping is no longer feasible; they must assassinate him.
Pontecorvo shows a degree of thoughtful nuance in dealing with this issue. Terrorism may be the only way to fight against a Fascist dictatorship, but is it the right way to act in a democratic society? In this regard, Pontecorvo seems to have mellowed from the Marxism of his earlier films; although he acknowledges the shortcomings of violence in those movies, he embraces now the violence as a necessary evil.
A rare Ennio Morricone soundtrack from the late 70s – recorded at a time when the maestro was moving onto bigger fame in the US, yet could still create a great old school score when he wanted! The style here is nice and dark – lots of spare, isolated sounds – especially off-tuned piano – used in ways that recall some of the best dramatic Morricone moments of the earlier part of the decade – with all the sharp sounds and stark styles that might imply! A few occasional themes echo the political tone of the film, but the whole thing's still a Morricone masterpiece all the way through – with titles that include "Canto Basco", inspired in basque popular melodies as Eusko Gudariak.