DVD Review: Guernica

GuernicaDVD1STUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Koldo Serra | CAST: James D’Arcy, Maria Valverde, Burn Gorman, Jack Davenport
RELEASE DATE: 8/2/16 | PRICE: DVD $14.38
BONUSES: deleted and extended scenes
SPECS: R | 110 min. | War drama romance | 1.78:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Based on the historical events of the bombing that set the stage for World War II, the romantic war drama Guernica was shot on location in Spain and brings to life the tragic events immortalized in Pablo Picasso’s painting “Guernica.”

James D'Arcy and María Valverde in Guernica.

James D’Arcy and María Valverde in Guernica.

The setting is 1937 Spain, a year into the country’s Civil War and the people of the small Spanish village of Guernica are dealing with the day-to-day realities of the conflict, which includes the peoples’ choosing of sides between  the left-leaning Republicans or Franco’s Nationalist regime. “Caught” in the middle of this is American journalist Henry Howell (James D’Arcy, Cloud Atlas), who secretly joins forces with a local press-office censor (María Valverde, Exodus: Gods and Kings) to work against the propaganda-fueled restrictions that are forced upon the press. The journalists’ inevitable budding romance and the politics of the region are wholly pushed to the side when Nazi Germany uses the village as a target to test out the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe and its aerial bombing techniques.

Guernica is actually one of the first features ever made about its titular subject and the film best serves as a primer on the horrors of that terrible precursor to World War II. Filmmaker Koldo Serra comes from a mostly television background and he and his team get a lot of incendiary mileage out of the modestly budgeted war sequences. The “romantic drama part” is also deftly handled–the fire that ignites between D’Arcy and Valverde feels like a genuine one.

Worth catching if only for the historical relevance.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.