Review: ‘The Spanish Boxes’

Anyone who has seen the glorious art at Madrid's Prado Museum should appreciate Alberto Porlan's docu "The Spanish Boxes," which shows how close the gallery's contents came to being damaged or destroyed. Fest sidebar bookings look likely.

Anyone who has seen the glorious art at Madrid’s Prado Museum should appreciate Alberto Porlan’s docu “The Spanish Boxes,” which shows how close the gallery’s contents came to being damaged or destroyed. Well-researched, if unimaginatively told, tale of the heroic efforts during Spain’s Civil War to save the old masters from falling bombs by shuttling them around Europe explores a hitherto little known corner of Spanish history. Fest sidebar bookings look likely.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1936 and the left-wing tendency to damage all religious iconography, the Republican government created an organization to protect Spain’s artistic treasures. Hundreds were boxed up at great expense and sent first to Valencia, then to Catalonia, and then to Geneva, before they were returned to Spain three years later. Along the way there are several fine anecdotes and a general sense of relief and gratitude that the noble efforts of a few saved Velazquez, Goya and company for the many. Pic neatly fuses newsreel films with artificially aged footage featuring actors — a risky maneuver that comes off fine. The only quibble is the relentless voiceover.

The Spanish Boxes

Docu - Spain

Production

A Sherlock Films release of a Drop a Star, Euroficcion, Fundacion Autor production, with participation of TVE, TVC. Produced by Jose del Rio Mons. Directed, written by Alberto Porlan.

Crew

Camera (B&W/color), Jose del Rio Mons; editor, Rori Sainz de Rozas; music, Guillermo Maestro. Reviewed at Cine Verdi, Madrid, Nov. 27, 2004. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Ramon Linaza, Manuel Barcelo, Vicente Garrido, Cristina Ribera, Jose Bravo.
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