José Luis Cuerda – La Lengua De Las Mariposas aka Butterfly (1999)

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Synopsis: Veteran director Jose Luis Cuerda delivered this sensitive portrait of a child coming of age during a tense political situation just before the Spanish Civil War. On his first day of school, frail eight-year-old Moncho (Manuel Lozano) is so terrified by the imposing figure of his teacher Don Gregorio (Fernando Fernan Gomez) that he flees into the nearby woods. In spite of his authoritarian appearance, the schoolmaster proves to be a kind, free-thinking Republican who teaches Moncho the virtues of being good. The boy is soon spending much of his time with the elderly Gregorio in the Galician countryside, admiring such wonders of nature as the tongue of a butterfly. Other people in young Moncho’s world include his down-to-earth mother (Uxia Blanco), his Republican father, and his older brother, who plays the saxophone with a group of local musicians. However, when the Fascists roll into town, the boy’s life changes forever. La Lengua de las Mariposas was screened at the 1999 San Sebastian Film Festival. -Jonathan Crow (AMG)

Review: This film offers an ample supply of the types of charming scenes commonly found in coming-of-age movies, such as curious kids spying on adults and learning about courtship. The cast is first-rate, particularly Fernando Fernan Gomez (Belle Epoque, The Spirit of the Beehive), and the individual vignettes that comprise the film are handled skillfully. Most of the scenes are entertaining and the pacing is generally effective, although too much time is spent on Mancho’s tenure as the mascot for a traveling group of musicians. Furthermore, the movie provides an interesting perspective on the days leading to the Spanish Civil War, as the political situation changes from a conversation topic to something that permeates everyone’s lives. The filmmakers wisely chose to get the audience emotionally involved in the lives of the characters and then show how the historical context impacts their lives. This sets up the audience for an interesting twist in the latter part of the film, which may force viewers to reevaluate everything that preceded it. At the very least, it ensures that the movie is more than just a cute but predictable coming-of-age story. -Todd Kristel (AMG)




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Language(s):Spanish
Subtitles:English (srt format)

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