Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
Original title: El Abuelo
Spain, 1998. Radio Televisión Española. Screenplay by Jose Luis Garci, Horacio Valcarcel, based on the novel by Benito Perez Galdos. Cinematography by Raul Perez Cubero. Produced by Jose Luis Garci. Music by Manuel Balboa. Production Design by Julian Mateos. Costume Design by Gumersindo Andres. Film Editing by Miguel Gonzalez Sinde.
Exquisite, masterful epic by one of Spain’s most successful filmmakers, Jose Luis Garci. After losing much of his fortune on a failed venture in America, an aged 19th century Spanish aristocrat (Fernando Fernán Gómez, who is wonderful) returns to the land of his domain and meets his two young granddaughters. His son dead in battle, the old man confronts his daughter-in-law, whom he has never felt much affection for, and tells her he knows that she had an affair during her marriage to his son and bore a child that was not his. He begs her to tell him which of his granddaughters is his by blood, believing that honour counts more than love, so that he may lavish his affection on the true heir to his noble line. Unfortunately, life is too complex for such simple moralizing, and watching these themes unfold over the carefully paced, richly subtle two and a half hours of this beautiful masterpiece is a unforgettable experience. All the performances are exceptional, the production details (especially the cinematography) gorgeous and the screenplay (adapted from the novel by Benito Perez Galdos) a work of art. A great European achievement, and one of the best Spanish films ever made.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film