This 1984 documentary on the Abraham Lincoln Brigade—the American volunteers who fought in the Spanish civil war—doesn't break through the customary newsreel-clips-and-interviews format, but the clips are evocative and unusual, and the interviewees all share a passion for their cause and a pride in their participation that are genuinely stirring. Filmmakers Noel Buckner, Mary Dore, and Sam Sills don't disguise the Communist Party's central role in the formation of the brigade, but neither do they prod the party's motives, and the implications of the Hitler-Stalin pact, which followed Franco's victory, are simply shunted aside. Still, the film leaves a profound portrait of a kind of personal confrontation with history that no longer seems possible in the world as it works today. Narrated by Studs Terkel.
By Dave Kehr