From the prologue,
the film enunciates its aim to explore
the passage of time as well as the outcome of the events through a
metaphoric text from the Wisdom of Sirach.

As a matter of fact, the film explores a love story subverted by historical
events as well as ideologies in Spain, 1945: Juana (Pepa Flores) is a young
school teacher from Andalucía who receives a letter from Antonio (Antonio
Gades), her boyfriend who she has not seen in six years, where he explains that
he is fighting in an antifrancoist guerrilla in the North of the country. After
hearing from him and with the sureness a single letter can offer, Juana decides
to leave everything and asks for a spot in a school in the village close to
where 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 most
desired encounter with Antonio. From then, the couple’s future encounters and
even communication between them get more complicated as the film unfolds. Juana
finds herself living in a continuous uncertainty as well as hiding and lying to
her neighbours in order not to be caught by the military police. That situation
makes her ask Antonio to flee the country with her, in order to leave the war
behind them and get their freedom back. However, Antonio rejects Juana’s
proposition as he will never abandon his comrades in battle. Thus, Juana
explains to Antonio that she is wasting time, as she is an unmarried adult and
also wants to be with her family. These inconsolable differences make
inevitable the lack of words in their conversations; making the couple finally
understand that they will never get back their previous life together as war deprived
them from their freedom long ago and they are not able to maintain a single
human relationship. As a matter of fact, Juana decides to return to Andalucía
and leave Antonio in the North. Nevertheless, before setting out, Juana the
guerrilla 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, death
or alive, unsuccessfully. Eventually, the teacher gets back to Andalucía and
retrieves her job; while the guerrilla in the North continues.

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The inner desire of the film to regain the country’s
collective memory is framed by its intention to “tell not telling.” Thus, the
director makes his characters express their fear showing their mistrust when
talking or acting, as some of them spy on other characters, or speak in
whispers in order not to be hear. Moreover, Los
días del pasado, as any other example of Spanish metaphoric cinema, seeks
reflection from its public. That is why Camus does not treat the couple as
romantic heroes but two people who are being destroyed by time and are forced
to take decisions at all costs. Both
Antonio and Juana have changed their perspective in life -as Spanish
society has- as he will not stop
fighting, even though the guerrilla has no hope left, and she is not able to
keep waiting for him her entire life.

 

The director told
El País that he wanted the film to honour
those ordinary people whose lives where destroyed during and after the war1. As
Camus reflects in the film, these people left their families and home, forced
to start all over in an unknown land without a right to complain. Besides, they
were socially mistreated by those who at first called them “poor” but later chased
them as criminals and blamed them for every single misfortune that happened to
the 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 of
winning, because they always knew that time would prove them right.

1 Camus, M (28
de febero de 1978) Crítica: Cine/ Antecrítica: “Los días del pasado”. El País