Words And Galloping Illusions

by Thomas O’Dwyer

El Cid
El Cid monument in his birthplace, Burgos, Spain

¡Buen Dios! Is it already 60 years since they filmed The Cid? A couple of weeks ago, I caught it again on Amazon Prime. All I remembered of first seeing it decades ago was the white-clad Cid thundering along Valencia beach, riding through the gates of history and into eternity, propped up dead on his beloved warhorse Babieca. Like a visit to a childhood home, the image proved to be grander in memory than in the rediscovered reality. Most of us ageing romantics prefer dreamy time-fixed images to duller realities. However, Anthony Mann’s cliche-soaked Tinseltown love story squeezed into medieval costume had first set me reflecting on the relationship between the visual and the verbal in our engagement with literature.

The noble Cid leading his warriors to battle even in death stuck at once in my mind as typical of elusive long-dead virtues I had been struggling to understand in the Greek and Latin texts pounded into our unwilling secondary-school heads. He had the virtutas of Aeneas, the arete of Achilles. I had seen the film of the Cid long before I came across The Poem of the Cid, translated from its 12th century Spanish and, though the two had little in common, the images I carried from the film lent some familiarity to the ancient tale. Likewise, I had less trouble with Virgil’s Aeneid because I had absorbed powerful images of the epic from, believe it or not, an English comic book. The weekly Eagle used to run stories from the classics in garish comic strips across its back page. It featured a vividly illustrated White Eagles Over Serbia, by Lawrence Durrell, for instance. I never got around to reading that book, but later read everything else Durrell wrote. Read more »

Arribes: An Interview with Zev Robinson, Painter and Filmmaker


by Elatia Harris

Zev Robinson, an Anglo-Canadian filmmaker and painter whose award-winning work in several media goes back to the 1980s, will present his documentary, Arribes: Everything Else is Noise, in Marbella, on October 5, 2013. If you are reading from Spain, join him — see link below. Arribes focuses on a traditonal way of life and its relationship to agriculture, food, and sustainability in the Arribes, Sayago and Abadengo regions in northwest Spain, along the Duero River. Natives to this region are about 80-90% self-sufficient. What have they to teach us?

All photos, including stills from Arribes: Everything Else Is Noise,

are used with permission of Zev Robinson and/or Albertina Torres. To make inquiries as to further use of these materials, write to the artists, contact info below.

Elatia Harris: Zev, you are one of the ultimate city boys. How likely a story is this? That you would come to live in a rural Spanish village, and then spend years creating an intimate portrait of an even more isolated and distant region of Spain?

Zev Robinson: It was a long process of discovery. The last place I thought I’d end up, after living in several large cities including New York and London, was a Spanish village of fewer than 800 people, where my wife is from, and where my father-in-law works and harvests his vineyards.

When we lived in London, I remember looking at a bottle of wine in a supermarket that originated from this region, and thinking how few people understood all that went into its making. After we moved here, I was taking a walk through the vineyards one day, and got the idea of making a short film about how the grape gets from the vines here to bottles in the UK.

EH: Are you a wine connoisseur — in a big way?

ZR: I knew nothing about wine at the beginning of all this, but am always interested in processes, the history that brings an object into being.

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