75th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War

Crosby Plaza cinema
Featuring “Land and Freedom”
Directed by Ken Loach
17th October 2011

Reviewed by John Owen

A night to commemorate the the 75th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War with the showing of Tierra y Libertad – Land And Freedom to you and me folks - along with archive photographs, wine, food and good chatter was held at Crosby Plaza's community run cinema.

The place was painted, decorated and plastered by community volunteers, and raised money through marathon runs. It has a special old world charm that modern multiplexs don't quite deliver in the realm of cinema experience.

Despite the naff weather - howling gales and torrential rain - hundreds turned out to see the Ken Loach film and hear speeches from Crosby’s mayor and the labour party Church ward that had sponsored the evening’s proceedings.

Socialist singers provided revolutionary song,s and Ken Loach's speech was read out to the audience, bringing socialist greetings and a hope for unity against the future cuts to be imposed by the coalition government.

Land And Freedom is a great film, depicting the hopes, trials, tribulations loves and losses of an unemployed Liverpool docker getting “16 bob a week”, who is inspired by a Spanish speaker at a communist party meeting and decides to go over to Spain to help the fight against fascism, by joining the famous militants comprising the International Brigades.

Ian Hart plays the main character that goes to Spain to experience real freedom and becomes a somebody as opposed to a nobody languishing on the dole in 1930s Britain. He learns to understand and feel for the people of Spain behind the rhetoric of words. This opens the door to his affection for Blanca, an anarchist militant fighting in the same milicianos unit.

She teaches him the meaning of the word revolution, and what the self organisation of the working class in communes and the belief in yourself is all about. Desire is unleashed in people and anything is possible.

Victory over Franco is however hampered, by the rampant sectarianism that dooms unity and the insidious role of the Stalin police. They’re operating in the arena to track down and destroy both the powerful anarcho syndicalist CNT- led militias and the P.O.U.M .Partido Obrera Unido Marxismo(United Marxist Workers Party) of Andrais Nin, soon to be assassinated by the GPU of Stalin.

The nature of the struggle embitters Carr (Ian Hart), after his lover Blanca is shot, in a bid to disarm the political militias and centralize the army, by putting the women back in the kitchen and being not allowed to fight or have a combative role.

Their demands are simple - both victory over Franco and social revolution through redistribution of the land. land and freedom are simple demands but it takes a revolution to achieve them.

The film has no varnish on it at all or a flippant attitude to revolution. Its message three quarters of a century later is still relevant .Why? Because we don’t just want a patch of land to call our own , we want he whole earth and freedom too!

See the film, be uplifted, start the revolution. Crisps and drinks are available in the foyer at political prices. Our turn next comrades.

Special thanks should be given to the organisers. Danny Payne, who once gave a talk on the Merseyside volunteers at the Nerve office, and helps keep the memory alive along with other members of the IBMT International Memorial Brigade Trust, some of whom had travelled from Manchester for the night.

Also praise should be given to Ray Physic, whose photographs ran on screen, and to the staff at the cinema who made everyone feel welcome.

But last though not least the food donated by Tapas restaurant. Great stuff.

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