Longfellow once called a man who could speak up against popular opinion 'a brave man' and 'a man of pluck and courage.' How much more courageous is the man who risks death to defend the right! We will all need courage in the coming days, as an out-of-control government edges closer to tyranny. Death is, of course, the supreme test of courage and fortitude, and the willingness to stand for principle.
We Americans are a happy lot; and we rarely think about such things. Life is much too pleasant, filled as it is, with trips to the mall, or another opportunity to load our plates with the daily special at our favorite restaurant.
Such thinking is more typical of Spain, a nation infused with a medieval mysticism and a deeply-ingrained sense of tragedy. We can learn much from the culture and history of Spain; though at first glance, there seems to be a fierce, natural conflict between the Spaniard and the Yankee. On a deeper level there is a fascinating kinship between the two, which makes many a straight-laced, buttoned-up Yankee yearn for the romance of far-off Spain.
Spain was the last nation in Europe to cling to the chivalric code of the Middle Ages. For that reason, the Spaniard's emphasis on chastity, honor, and loyalty resonates deeply with the conservative mind. When we view Spain, we see our own distant past; and in her past, we see a mirror of our own current events. For over a thousand years Spain honed the virtues of courage and fortitude in a life-and-death struggle against a formidable Arab invader. And in the years leading up to the Spanish Civil War, as society gradually rotted away under the influence of Marxism, Liberalism, and a constant attack on the family - then crumbled into a myriad of parties and organizations bent on mutual annihilation - we see an extremely close parallel to our own time.
Blood and Sand is the story of a bullfighter, Juan Gallardo, whose extraordinary courage enables him to scale the heights of fame and fortune. The bullfighter, played by Tyrone Power, possesses one fatal flaw, and that is his unfaithfulness to his beautiful wife, played by Linda Darnell. Her rival is the fiery seductress Dona Sol, played by Rita Hayworth. The scene in which Hayworth strums on a Spanish guitar while swaying with snake-like rhythm, captures the character of a very thorough and destructive home wrecker.
The virtues of this extraordinary movie are impossible to summarize in a single column. In addition to being a deeply moving story, it is perhaps the greatest color film of all time. The reds, blues, and yellows are dazzling. Each scene has a painterly quality, as Old Masters fill the background of many shots. Throughout the film, the color red symbolizes the flesh and human mortality; yellow symbolizes the world and its empty promises; while blue symbolizes loyalty, faith, and honor, and the heavenly home which is the reward of each believer in Christ.
Blood and Sand is not merely a movie about courage in the bull ring. It is a movie with a Christian message about the brevity of life; the emptiness of worldly ambition, and the certainty of death and the Last Judgment. It is about finding the Cross in each of our lives; a message which is brought home unforgettably by the last scene.
Curiously, Blood and Sand proved to be prophetic, as each of the main actors died young. Tyrone Power died of a heart attack at the age of forty-four after returning to Spain to film the Biblical epic "Solomon and Sheba." Linda Darnell died at the age of forty-one, after she ran into a burning room to save a young house guest. And Rita Hayworth met a worse fate at a very early age.
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