The Endless Trench

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
The Endless Trench Movie Poster Image
Man hides from fascists for decades; language, sex, rape.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 147 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie questions whether it's more important to be true to one's principles or to be there for one's family. "There's nothing worse than an angry idiot."

Positive Role Models

A principled man who is ardently anti-fascist tries to run from a tyrannical government but ends up hiding in his home for 30 years. When he emerges, the movie suggests what he put himself and his family through might not have been worth it.

Violence

Soldiers chase dissidents. People are shot. A woman is raped. The rapist is killed by strangling and stabbing. The wife of a missing dissident is arrested and tortured. She returns, her hair  hacked off, with wounds on her head and bruises on her body. Reports come through that many have been killed by the fascists.

Sex

A man and woman have sex. Full male and female nudity are seen briefly in shadows.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "crap," "bastard," and "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine. A man sits at a café and gets drunk. Adults smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Endless Trench is a Spanish movie (with English subtitles) that relives the ugliness of politics and war during the authoritarian reign of dictator Francisco Franco from 1939 until his death in 1975. One dissident tries to run from Franco's fascist government and discovers that the best place to hide is behind a false wall at home, where he stays for 30 years until amnesty is officially declared. At nearly two-and-a-half hours, the film immerses viewers into the man's anxious and claustrophobic world. The themes are complex, subtle, and mature. The peril of being caught and executed is constant. The man has sex with his wife, with quick glimpses of male and female nudity.  A woman is raped by a soldier, who is killed in the act. Language includes infrequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "crap," "bastard," and "hell." Adults drink wine. A man sits at a café and gets drunk. Adults smoke cigarettes.

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What's the story?

In THE ENDLESS TRENCH, Higinio (Antonio de la Torre) is a Republican, a patriot in 1930s Spain, trying to fight encroaching fascism in his country as embodied in Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who would eventually overthrow a democratically-elected regime and rule that country until 1975. Neighbors inform on neighbors, including Gonzalo (Vicente Vergara), who blames Higinio for his brother's death and nurses a vengeance for decades. The Civil Guard soldiers come for Higinio and other dissidents in the middle of the night. Higinio runs for the mountains. He's shot in the process and returns to his wife Rosa (Belen Cuesta). They've created a hiding place in their tiny home where he stays, protected by Rosa for years. Rosa is raped as Higinio observes from his hiding place.  He kills the rapist, demonstrating how war sometimes requires people to do terrible things in self defense. When a drunken and aging Gonzalo remains certain Higinio is in hiding, he brings the police. What will happen to Higinio and his family?

Is it any good?

The beauty of The Endless Trench is in its complex and patient examination of the way humans justify and rationalize their actions of the moment. In early scenes, the hidden Higinio asks for political books and ardently objects to Franco's fascist policies. But after decades of hiding in a small space, dependent on a wife and son for protecting and feeding him, he reads fantasy novels and is more interested in the logistics of keeping his space clean and functional than in the world outside. Decades into his exile from humanity, he urges a young starry-eyed dissident to spend the time he has on truly important things like being a husband and a father, giving and taking love, rather than trying to change the world.

The movie is long and early scenes shot through a hole in the floor into a dark room certainly reproduce the limitations of being in hiding, but squinting is not the best way to watch a movie. As Higinio's world opens up to include his wife and son, and as the emphasis moves to the changing family dynamics and the toll his hiding takes on his wife and child, the movie blooms into a tense but profound tragedy about the effect of politics on individual lives.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way the meaning of hiding changes through the movie. At what point does managing the difficulties of long-term hiding in a small space start to become more important to Higinio than the political views that put him in the hiding place?

  • How does the burden of hiding her husband for decades change the wife's feelings for her husband?

  • What does this movie say about the passage of time and its effect on relationships? How does time color our views of the importance of certain political and moral views?

Movie details

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