Back in the prehistory of this site, around about May 2008, when we were just taking our first hesitant steps on this project, we brought you a report on the documentary The Land of the Basques, directed by Orson Welles for the BBC.
Now we’ve discovered that Argia Magazine has posted that documentary to their YouTube channel, complete and subtitled in Basque, so that we can all enjoy this priceless work that was recorded in the 1950s, and which most likely did not impress Franco at all.
Update. Orson Welles actually filmed two documentaries about the Basques, which shared common elements but also differed in some respects. We’re sharing the first entry we wrote about this Welles work, as well as the six parts that we’ve found on YouTube, which also contain other elements found in those two documentaries, such as hunting doves with a net, that were not offered in the video ‘Argia’ uploaded.
We just watched it again, and we’re still impressed by Welles’ ability to communicate and reach the viewer’s heart with this work. The definition of the Basques as aboriginal, the “Agur Jaunak” that is heard in the first few minutes, the irritzis, the humanity and dignity of the Basque people shown, the end of the documentary, which we hadn’t included in our 2008 article, since it wasn’t yet available on YouTube. All of these things make it one of the best ways to show off the true essence of the Basques to an international audience.
We’d like to repeat what we said back then:
Sometimes, for some strange reason, far removed from the desires of those who usually speak about Basques in the world, we Basques have found many great allies. Orson Welles was one of them. He is a part of that group of artists, writers, journalists, directors, politicians, musicians, etc. who discovered in the Basques who they really are and thereby became friends of this People. I think that Orson Welles deserves public recognition. He and Steer, the journalist who told the truth about the bombing of Guernica to the ‘Times’ and the ‘New York Times’ and then wrote the must-read ‘El Árbol de Guernica’, has left us two of the most beautiful descriptions of this People as we are. In both cases, our thanks to him is too little, too late. We as a people aren’t very good at recognizing our friends.
Four years later, Steer, and John Adams, now have permanent recognition in the names of the streets of Bilbao. Finally. But we’re still pretty poor at recognizing our friends. We hope that changes someday.
Though we included the first video in the original entry about this Orson Welles report, we’ll also include it here.
As we explained above, there are images in these Welles documentaries that are not included in the Argia video, which can be seen here.
Finally, we’d like to congratulate Argia for this magnificent work.
The Land of the Basques, by Orson Welles.
Complete version, subtitled in Basque