directed by Ken Loach
United Kingdom / Germany / Italy / Spain 1995


Ken Loach takes a unique position as filmmaker. Not only is he the most political British filmmaker, but also the most censored, mainly because he gives a voice to those who normally aren’t allowed to speak. Yet as political potent his films are, Loach does not see himself as a political filmmaker, but more as a social filmmaker, who is privileged by having a well paid job.

Where his films usually depict the struggle of social outcasts, he does acknowledge the struggle for something larger, as in “Fatherland” (East Germany), “Hidden Agenda” (Ireland) and “Land and Freedom”, where Loach examines the Spanish civil war and how Stalinism betrayed the Spanish people and the revolution.

David (Ian Hart) is a young idealistic unemployed lad from Liverpool who goes to Spain to fight for the cause, leaving his wife behind. Never spoken of after his return, we learn about his time in Spain thru his letters to his wife, read by his granddaughter after his death.

By chance David ends up with the POUM militia, who stands independently against the party line, who increasingly becomes Stalinist, and in turns deprive the militia from weapons. When wounded, David leaves POUM in frustration and joins the Stalinists' International Brigade, only to discover, that because of internal power struggles, communists are fighting each other in the streets rather than fighting the Fascists. Disillusioned he destroys his party card returns to POUM, only later to see the leaders of the militia being arrested by Stalinists and charged with collaborating with the Fascists. David returns to England.

Rather than depicting the war itself, “Land and Freedom” is a full frontal attack on how Stalinism sabotaged the struggle for freedom, being not only antisocialist and antirevolutionary, but also a brutal totalitarian regime, which was more interested in making alliances with England and France, than supporting those who fought against the rise of Fascism.

But Loach also makes it clear, that the struggle is never ending, that ideas like social justice and freedom are worth fighting for, making the film into a historical lesson for us to learn from, not to repeat it. A haunting and deeply moving film.

Henrik Sylow


Theatrical Release: April 7, 1995

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:44:44 (4% PAL speedup)

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.50 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital English, 5.1 Dolby Digital English
Subtitles English (non English language only), English (entire film), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Ken Loach and Andy Durgan
• Loach on location (38:30)
• Theatrical Trailer
• Biographies

DVD Release Date: March 21, 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 12




Comments Apart from almost invisible edge enhancements and a soft image, this is one very impressive image, with a colour palette that fully allows the beautiful landscape of Aragon to come forward.

The film has two soundtracks, the films original 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo track and a new 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, which has kept the original tracks dialogue and sound front and center, but added slight rear surround and a more full sound stage.

There also are two sets of subtitles. One where only non-English dialogue is subbed, the other where the entire dialogue is subtitled.

Something as rare for an AE DVD as an audio commentary by director Ken Loach and historian Andy Durgan begins the additional material. It is a very limited commentary, heavy on pauses, where they discuss various aspects of the film and its historical context.

Its rounded up with a BBC documentary on the making of the film, a trailer and biographies.

 - Henrik Sylow



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Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL




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