With relief I realized that I hadn’t been thrown back in time.
One morning early this week, as I looked out over the Plaza del Humilledero from our Madrid piso’ bedroom window, I was mildly startled: a hastily erected barricade covered part of an apartment building across the way — patrolled by what appeared to be one of Franco’s Nationalist soldiers.
Seeking enlightenment, I hastily dressed and descended to the street. Behind the news kiosk where I purchased a copy of El País, the Calle San Francisco, a busy thoroughfare one usually must cross with caution, seemed eerily desolate. Peering down the hill, I discovered why: the police had cordoned off the street and were attempting to manage a rather large gathering of onlookers.
Not one to avoid a mysterious episode of such public interest, I tucked my newspaper under my arm and made my way towards the crowd. There, at the corner of the plaza, beneath Spain’s national colors as well as the Falange’s yoke and arrows, a squadron of red-bereted soldiers had assembled.
I noticed a tangle of cables running around my feet, then saw the cameras, light stands, and sound equipment. Opening my paper, I saw the headline: “Nationalist troops enter Madrid again for the production of ‘The Thirteen Roses.’”
It seems my neighborhood, La Latina, was being dressed up to look 70 years younger for Emilio Martínez-Lázaro’s film about 13 girls executed by Franco in August of 1939—apparently with no real evidence—for their political ideas and alleged role in the assassination of a military officer.
I stuck around for a few minutes but didn’t see any shooting—of film or innocent girls—so I headed back up the street, leaving unfinished another episode from the Spanish Civil War.