Carpenter’s Pencil, The

Director: Anton Reixa

(2002. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 106 mins.)

Director Anton Reixa’s sumptuous Civil War drama is based on the best-selling novel by Manuel Rivas, who also wrote The Butterfly’s Tongue (La lengua de las mariposas). The Carpenter’s Pencil is set in Galicia, northern Spain, just before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1936. Young Republican doctor Daniel de Barca (Tristan Ulloa) is engaged to be married to Marisa Mallo (Maria Adanez). When he’s arrested for his left-wing beliefs by nervy nationalist Herbal (Luis Tosar), who becomes Daniel’s guard in prison, Marisa’s father tries to get her to marry a young nationalist soldier. But Marisa swears to be faithful to Daniel and manages to smuggle a gun into prison, right under the nose of Herbal. In fact, Herbal knows what’s going on and sets up a number of lucky escapes for Daniel. This romantic drama of survival, faith and fidelity is packed with incident, has excellent visuals and is well performed by an impressive cast.

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