Just about the most stirring documentary you'll ever see. Through newsclips, old photographs and interviews with survivors, it tells the story of the 3,200 men and women who fought with the American Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War: men like Bill Bailey, the longshoreman who laughs as he describes how, during an anti-Nazi demonstration in New York in 1935, he and a friend boarded a German ship and tore down its swastika; women like Evelyn Hutchins, who had to fight to persuade her colleagues into letting her serve as the only female ambulance driver. What seems to have motivated them was America's deliberate non-intervention. 'That was my brother out there', says one volunteer; 'You had to put up or shut up' says another; and they all describe 'an enormous feeling of wanting to come to grips' with what they saw as the tide of Fascism about to engulf Europe. What comes over most strongly is the resolute idealism of those who fought, and did so in a way that seems impossibly heroic in these unheroic times. They were young, 'just chickenshit kids', untrained, and with no idea of what they were letting themselves in for. Yet they went and suffered terrible casualties. Now, although in their seventies, their enthusiasm for the cause remains undimmed, and a bunch of them are seen marching proudly as Lincoln Brigade veterans in a huge demo against US involvement in El Salvador. They may have lost the battle, as one of them concludes, but the war against Fascism was won, and the good fight continues.
Cast and crew
Noel Buckner, Mary Dore, Sam Sills