A Preview of World War II in ‘Guernica’

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Guernica, out now on DVD and Digital, recreates the events of April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War when Nazi and Italian aviators bombed a small Basque town out of existence in support of Franco and his Spanish nationalists. The attack, which in hindsight offers a preview of the horrors of World War II, immediately inspired Pablo Picasso’s massive 11.5′ x 25.5′ mural that depicted the civilian suffering.

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Picasso’s painting hangs in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. It’s worth the trip.

The movie, from Basque director Koldo Serra, is the first film to tell the story of that day. It stars British actor James D’Arcy as Henry, a cynical foreign correspondent inspired by New York Times reporter George Steer, whose stories on the bombings in turn inspired Picasso to create his painting.

We’ve got a clip from the movie. Ingrid García Jonsson plays a photographer who insists on following Henry to the front lines. She ends up in a gunman’s sights.

Director Serra told the Guardian last year that he hoped to make a film that “feels like Casablanca.” It’s definitely more of a wartime romance than a straight-up military film, but D’Arcy (best known here as Edwin Jarvis on Marvel’s Agent Carter TV series) and Jack Davenport (Norrington in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Lancelot in Kingsman: The Secret Service) give strong performances.

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