This article was tranlated by Iustrans

1968 was a great year for the Basques. In the darkest times, any spark of light and hope shines like the brightest sun. We mentioned it when remembering the attitude of the British civil society that fostered thousands of Basque children after the Bombing of Gernika.

For the peninsular Basques, 1968 was another year under the yoke of the dictator Franco; a regime of terror that seemed eternal and hopeless for the Basques on this side of the Pyrenees.

Anyway, during that year -among the many things big and small that showed that the Basque people lived on, two things had a particular impact. One came from the Basques abroad, whereas the other came from the Basques at home.

We already discussed the first one some time ago. We refer to the publication – August, 1968- in the National Geographic magazine of the extraordinary 37-page article composed by the American writer, of Basque origin, Robert Laxalt, under the headline Ancient Land of the Basques .

The second event took place in September of the following month, when a quite important episode for the Basques occurred in Donostia/San Sebastian. The Film Festival of San Sebastian premiered the documentary Amalur, by Nestor Basterretxea and Fernando Larruquert.

This documentary, made ​​thanks to the contribution of thousands of Basques, shows, with romantic and epic tone, the ancestral traditions, legends, rites and customs of Euskal Herria.  It gave a look at modern Basque society under an atavistic perspective.

As the authors explain:

“Ama Lur was a lesson about the strength of people who are united, it is a triumphalist film simply because it had to be. Today it would be impossible to make it, as there is no unity anymore, it would imply taking sides for one or the other. 

This film was shot during the dictatorship; it included the Basques from all the territories of the Basque Country, was made by public subscription, was in the Basque language and premiered at one of the events that Franco’s regime had shown as the international showcase: the Film Festival of San Sebastian. Needless to say, this did not amuse Franco’s regime at all and, given that they couldn’t avoid it, they tried to distort it.

The entry of this work in the Auñamendi Encyclopedia explains it clearly:

Franco’s censorship became an ordeal for Larruquert and Basterretxea. The Minister of Information and Tourism at that time, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, explained that no license would be granted to display the film unless the shots of the Picasso’s “Guernica” that accompanied the Atxo-ta-tupinak of Luzaide and the final scene (a shot of the Tree of Gernika covered with snow) were removed. The symbolism of these images was seditious to the mentality of the minister of the Franco’s fascist regime. He further demanded that the word “Spain” had to be mentioned at least three times throughout the film. Traditional forms of Basque life seemed so alien to the censors that they did not find any other way to “Spanify” the film.

Mother’s Day is a very good time to remember and value the fundamental, silent and under-recognized role of women with regards to the survival of the Basque people, and therefore we share this documentary in Spanish. We would have liked to also share it in Basque and English, but we have not found those versions.

We also share with you a great article posted on the web specializing in documentary film called Oranges of Hiroshima about the work of Nestor Basterretxea and Fernando Larruquert.


Naranjas de Hirosima – 9/2010 –

Ama Lur – Tierra Madre

Amalur nombre de origen Vasco. En euskera significa “Madre Tierra” o “Tierra Madre”. Es una diosa de la mitología vasca y creadora de la hermana luna, la hermana sol y “eguzkilore”, flor parecida al cardo muy abundante en el País Vasco y que se coloca en las puertas de las casas para ahuyentar a los genios, las brujas, las lamias y los espíritus malignos.  “Ama Lur’ fue una lección de la fuerza que tiene la gente unida;
demostró que estábamos vivos”

(Continue) (automatic translation)


Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country

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