Freedom Beheaded

Director's Statement of Intent

It has been more than 300 years since the capitulation of Catalonia and the execution of General Josep Moragues under the aegis of a royal dynasty whose present members, upon seeing the film we intend to shoot, may have the chance to make an act of contrition.

Despite the passing of three centuries, General Moragues still remains a much-unknown figure in his own homeland. We believe that the time has come to rescue him from so unjust a state of oblivion and restore Moragues to his rightful place in our popular iconography and collective history.

If the cinema means conflict and emotion, few characters can make higher claims to such values as General Josep Moragues. The idea of making a film on this distinguished officer’s last stand has been persistently in my mind since I read about his tragic fate while doing research into the period for Captain Escalaborns, thirty years ago. Although this was a seafaring adventure film, we studied that era in depth so as to bolster the film with elements and customs of the time. Both the producer, Josep Gimeno Mayol, and I were struck by the figure of General Moragues and by his horrific end, after which this small obsession of ours has remained with us, gaining in depth and strength over the years.

The present production is thoroughly different from the earlier film, which strove for a sense of epic adventure. Our purpose here, by contrast, is that of emphasising the rigour needed to place the general in the context of all surviving historical documents available to us, even if the narrative is confined to the last days in his life, with a few references to his past. It is for this reason that we decided that the script should be co-written by the historian Antoni Muñoz González, a specialist in this historical period and the author - with Josep Catà- of the book Repressió borbònica i resistència catalana (1714-1736), as well as of L'11 de setembre, Catalunya poble a poble, among others. His scholarly touch can be seen in some lines, which perfectly identify the characters with their own historical expressions. (This is something we have emphasised in the script, with references to their origin).

The narrative pacing will not be at all fast, though it will certainly be dynamic and without any dead time; one scene will lead straight to the next either by an association of images or by means of dialogue. The latter concept can be clearly seen in the – historically accurate – moment in which the general’s will is drawn, with the insertion of brief flashbacks that punctuate the narration of the events.

Camera placement will always be at the service of the actors, except for the final section of the story, which deals with Moragues’s ordeal. The scripting of these scenes gives very specific details on the essential role the camera must play, and it is thanks to the importance it gains at this point that the execution of the general can attain its tragic edge by being depicted off-camera rather than directly and brutally, albeit at no loss to its horrifying quality.

The film’s photography will favour bright colours in the first part, especially during the section in which Moragues and his faithful aide Captain Paloma are travelling on horseback from Sort to Barcelona, in order to enhance the beauty of the landscapes, especially those of Sant Miquel del Fai. This palette will gradually undergo changes until approaching near-monochrome during the grim denouement. The photography of the scenes on the beach should be closer to vintage engravings than to typical day-for-night, so as to highlight the silhouette of Montjuïc Castle and the feeling of surprise it brings about, as indicated in the script.

It was time Josep Moragues’s sacrifice reached a wide audience, whether among those who share the general’s ideas or those who do not, possibly from a lack of knowledge. The cinema must also act as a custodian of Historical Memory, and this should not be confined to the twentieth century.