Rogelio is a powerful fascist soldier in the Spanish Civil War who has no issue killing anyone who doesn’t agree with the new regime. One night, as he kills a man and his sixteen-year-old son, that man’s ten-year-old son locks eyes with him, giving our antagonist feelings of extreme guilt and something much worse — terror. He’s certain that by the time the boy reaches sixteen, he will kill him. Now, this formerly trigger happy soldier has become a hermit who only cares about his fig tree.
Ana Murugarren has directed this film, which looks gorgeous. Unlike so many of the films in this country that are released straight to on demand, this looks better than most theatrical films that I’ve seen this year.
Rogello decides that he must perform acts of contrition for his crimes, so he moves to a small shack near the grave of the boy’s father brother. Now, he has become a Soldier of God, tending to the fig tree that the angry boy has planted over the burial site. He defends it with his gun, but in truth, he is losing himself to the tree with each new pang of guilt that he feels.
Years later, Rogello’s vigil makes him a tourist attraction, much to the embarrassment of his former friends. After all, seeing that tree reminds them of the murders that they themselves were part of.
Adapted from a novel by Ramiro Pinilla, this movie veers from fairy tale parable to a rough look at Spain’s recent history seemingly at will. It’s PR materials claimed that it was whimsical, but that probably wouldn’t be the word I’d use.
That said — it is interesting. I haven’t seen a film like this in some time and if you’re willing to read subtitles and have an open mind, you’ll find something to enjoy here.
The Bastards’ Fig Tree is now available on demand.
DISCLAIMER: We were sent this film by its PR team but that has no impact on our review.