Land and Freedom
Time Out saysLoach's film charts the experiences of an unemployed young Liverpudlian (Ian Hart) when he goes to join the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and for the first half-hour or so it seems that Jim Allen's script is going to be a sentimental celebration of fraternal unity among the good guys. Then, mercifully, things get more complex, as Hart's confusion and divided loyalties mirror the in-fighting that plagued the Left and led to Franco's victory. The film has its shortcomings - notably the didactic discussions on, for example, the ideology of collectivism - but Loach handles what is for him an unprecedentedly large canvas with aplomb. The action scenes in particular have a raw, plausible immediacy. Nor is this just a movie which simply fills us in on fascinating historical details; thanks to muscular performances (especially from Hart), it also packs an emotional punch.