From the prologue,the film enunciates its aim to explorethe passage of time as well as the outcome of the events through ametaphoric text from the Wisdom of Sirach.As a matter of fact, the film explores a love story subverted by historicalevents as well as ideologies in Spain, 1945: Juana (Pepa Flores) is a youngschool teacher from Andalucía who receives a letter from Antonio (AntonioGades), her boyfriend who she has not seen in six years, where he explains thathe is fighting in an antifrancoist guerrilla in the North of the country. Afterhearing from him and with the sureness a single letter can offer, Juana decidesto leave everything and asks for a spot in a school in the village close towhere Antonio is hiding in order to find him. Juana gets in contact with the’maquis,’ the group of the antifrancoist guerrilla, and finally has her mostdesired encounter with Antonio. From then, the couple’s future encounters andeven communication between them get more complicated as the film unfolds.
Juanafinds herself living in a continuous uncertainty as well as hiding and lying toher neighbours in order not to be caught by the military police. That situationmakes her ask Antonio to flee the country with her, in order to leave the warbehind them and get their freedom back. However, Antonio rejects Juana’sproposition as he will never abandon his comrades in battle.
Thus, Juanaexplains to Antonio that she is wasting time, as she is an unmarried adult andalso wants to be with her family. These inconsolable differences makeinevitable the lack of words in their conversations; making the couple finallyunderstand that they will never get back their previous life together as war deprivedthem from their freedom long ago and they are not able to maintain a singlehuman relationship. As a matter of fact, Juana decides to return to Andalucíaand leave Antonio in the North. Nevertheless, before setting out, Juana theguerrilla fights in an encounter with the Francoist troops, where some “maquis”die on the field. The woman runs to the forest in order to find Antonio, deathor alive, unsuccessfully. Eventually, the teacher gets back to Andalucía andretrieves her job; while the guerrilla in the North continues.
The inner desire of the film to regain the country’scollective memory is framed by its intention to “tell not telling.” Thus, thedirector makes his characters express their fear showing their mistrust whentalking or acting, as some of them spy on other characters, or speak inwhispers in order not to be hear. Moreover, Losdías del pasado, as any other example of Spanish metaphoric cinema, seeksreflection from its public.
That is why Camus does not treat the couple asromantic heroes but two people who are being destroyed by time and are forcedto take decisions at all costs. BothAntonio and Juana have changed their perspective in life -as Spanishsociety has- as he will not stopfighting, even though the guerrilla has no hope left, and she is not able tokeep waiting for him her entire life. The director toldEl País that he wanted the film to honourthose ordinary people whose lives where destroyed during and after the war1. AsCamus reflects in the film, these people left their families and home, forcedto start all over in an unknown land without a right to complain. Besides, theywere socially mistreated by those who at first called them “poor” but later chasedthem as criminals and blamed them for every single misfortune that happened tothe country. However, the director wanted to make clear in the film that these “reds,”the losers of war, never stopped fighting even when they had no chance ofwinning, because they always knew that time would prove them right. 1 Camus, M (28de febero de 1978) Crítica: Cine/ Antecrítica: “Los días del pasado”.