1937 / 52m - USA
Documentary, War
The Spanish Earth poster


December 15, 2020


Early Joris Ivens documentary. The Spanish Earth is a rather one-sided account (one stop short of calling it a full-on propaganda film) that tackles the Spanish Civil War from the point of the Spanish government. Any familiarity with the subject is appreciated, because Ivens doesn't really bother to give too much context.

For most of the documentary, Ivens observes. He plants his camera down and shoots footage, without providing major insights. The sparse commentary comes from Ernest Hemingway, who blasts out platitudes with extreme gravitas. It's a very weird stylistic choice that didn't make much sense to me.

While I'm sure this documentary made sense in 1937, it has lost much of its value over time. The one-sided approach isn't very informative, the crude and brutish styling is rather off-putting and the fact that it only tells half a story (it was made during the Civil War) isn't working in its favor either.