Based on true events, this is the story of the Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno, rector of the University of Salamanca during the first months of Franco’s Nationalist government. Although previously left-leaning, he was disillusioned by the disorder of the Republican government, and he gives increasingly luke-warm support to the Nationalists. But when his friends fall victim to the Nationalists, he changes his mind and takes a stance. Franco is depicted as a rather diffident leader who nonetheless is playing a long game while the war hero Millán-Astray is seen to be driving events and whipping up passions. It made me think about how support for a political party of any persuasion can take you to places and stances beyond your comfort zone, and the line between inconsistency and a considered change of position. I’d never heard of Miguel de Unamuno, or this event – but then again, I’m constantly being confronted with things that I know nothing about!
Although the Spanish Film Festival has now finished in Melbourne, there’s an extra showing of While at War on 16th May at the Kino.
My rating: 8/10