Travel Movie Watch: ‘Homage to Catalonia’
Travel Blog • Eva Holland • 05.20.09 | 10:53 AM ET
More than 70 years after its initial publication, George Orwell’s Spanish Civil War memoir is hitting the big screen.
Hugh Hudson, best known for “Chariots of Fire” and “I Dreamed of Africa,” will direct, while Colin Firth and Kevin Spacey have already signed on to star—the media coverage of the news doesn’t offer anything definite, but it looks as though Firth will play Orwell, and Spacey will take on the role of Georges Kopp, Orwell’s POUM commander.
“Homage to Catalonia” is one of my favorite books, ever, full stop—so naturally I’m both excited and concerned about the adaptation.
It won’t be an easy book to transfer to the screen: large chunks of it read more like political analysis or history, rather than a narrative-driven memoir, and those expository sections, filling in the crucial, convoluted details of the various leftist factions that banded together to fight the Fascists, will be tough to condense. (In fact, the coverage thus far already has those details wrong: Variety suggests that Orwell went to Spain to fight Stalinism, when in fact he went to fight Fascism—and then got caught up in the internal battles between the Trotskyists, Anarchists and Stalinists, who had initially maintained an awkward alliance.)
As for Colin Firth as George Orwell, he’s a talented actor, but I’ve seen him play the well-meaning, bumbling Englishman too many times to readily picture him as the Orwell I’ve always imagined: keenly observant, incisive and quietly cynical.
Still, I’m willing to keep an open mind. Labyrinthine politics aside, if the film can capture Orwell’s deep love and admiration for the Spanish people, his enjoyment of life in Catalonia in even the darkest times—the sentiment that is, really, at the core of the book—then it will be one worth watching.