Guernica is both a town that was leveled in a night of horror during World War II and an image, captured in paint by Pablo Picasso and on film by renegade surrealist Fernando Arrabal. The Guernica Tree is Arrabal’s most unflinching and personal film. It is a testimony to the horrors of war, the absurd chaos of life turned upside down and the ache of love. The fictional town of Villa Romero is the set upon which the events of Spain’s civil war play out. Villa Romero is home to Vandale (Mariangela Melato) a witch, count Cerralbo (Bento Urago) a powerless land baron, and his four sons. Three of Cerralbo’s sons are ruthless sadists who pillage the countryside, but the fourth, Goya (ron Faber), is an artist challenging authority and the church. When Vandale and Goya fall in love they become embroiled in the chaos of war and more ever closer to the doom that awaits in Guernica.
The Guernica Tree is a wrenching experience, a headlong exploration of war and humanity. It is a film of shocking power and brutal design and is not recommended for the faint of heart. This is Guernica as only Arrabal can show it.