- Actors: James D'Arcy, María Valverde, Jack Davenport
- Director: Koldo Serra
- Producers: José Alba, Daniel Dreifuss
- Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
- Language: English
- Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Spanish, English, Japanese
- Dubbed: French, Thai, Japanese
- Region: Region 1
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Rated: R
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- DVD Release Date: August 2, 2016
- Run Time: 111 minutes
Despite being directed by Spanish filmmaker Koldo Serra from a story and screenplay by two Spanish writers about the attacks on the small village in Spain during their Civil War in 1937, Guernica seems made with an English speaking audience in mind. The film is primarily in English and our protagonist is an American journalist. Fortunately much of the rest of the film’s approach feels more European rather than as if it had been constructed by Hollywood, especially since the plot is almost exactly the same as Pearl Harbor.
Cynical American newspaper man, Henry Howell (James D’Arcy) has given up trying to report on the Spanish Civil War due to the Republic’s censorship rules. Henry resigns to becoming a drunk and faking the news despite objections from his idealistic photographer (Ingrid García Jonsson), until a local press-office censor named Teresa (María Valverde) catches an error in one of his pieces. Though Teresa is romantically involved with the Russian advisor to the Rupublic, Vasyl (Jack Davenport), a love connection quickly develops between her and Howell.
Guernica blends fact with fiction, taking much of the protagonist’s experiences from the writing of George Lowther Steer, the real-life journalist Howell is based on. As was the problem with Pearl Harbor, there just isn’t enough for the film to do until the actual attacks happen, and that is where the romance elements pick up the narrative slack. Somehow it remains subtle enough to not overshadow the real-life events, while the two leads share enough chemistry for their emotions to come off as believable when danger threatens to separate them.
I’m not entirely sure of the modern relevance to the film’s themes, if any, but Guernica is a competently executed film about war. It is a difficult task to take a single event and attempt to form an entire narrative out of it, and Guernica is able to achieve this far more fluidly than attempts with far larger budgets. Even with some predictable romantic elements giving the film far too many similarities to those larger budgeted films, Guernica makes compelling viewing for audiences less aware of the bombing of the Spanish city than the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
The DVD release has a handful of deleted and extended scenes, though the 111-minute run-time is already bordering on too much for the amount of material in the script.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 5/10
Special Features: 3/10