Patria is a small screen adaptation of Fernando Aramburu’s novel of the same name. The adaptation was performed by screenwriter and executive producer Aitor Gabilondo. After the screening of the series in eight episodes at the San Sebastian Film Festival, it can now be seen on HBO.
The series tells the story of two families in a context marked by ETA terrorism. A terrorist gang, a mafia, which murdered 853 people with the intention of putting pressure on the government and imposing its will for independence.
What is precious about the Patria series is that it moves away from political analysis to give way to human reflection through artistic expression. The series does not claim to exonerate or relativize the role of both sides of the story; it simply expresses the feelings of those who supported the terrorists and those who were persecuted by them.
Patria: it’s not what she says, but how she tells it
For 40 years, the terrorist gang ETA tried, by violence, to seize power by imposing itself as an interlocutor of the feelings of the Basque Country. Civil society has often been the victim of their attacks, blackmail and threats.
Faced with this opposition, the state has not always resisted the pressure. Some groups, like the state-sponsored so-called LAG, have also killed and tortured ETA activists and people suspected of being activists. One way of trying to put an end to it which only strengthened the terrorist gang.
After declaring a permanent ceasefire in 2011, ETA began to take up arms again in 2017 before completely disbanding in May 2018. On the other hand, the organization did not apologize, and its favorable environment also did not highlight the many assassins who still live freely today.
Two women, two ideologies
Patria tells the story of two Basque families destroyed by armed conflict over three decades. The 2011 announcement of ETA’s dissolution prompts widow Bittori (Lena Irureta) to return to her hometown of San Sebastian, from where she was forced to flee following the murder of her husband Txato (José Ramón Soroiz), a Basque businessman.
Upon his return, many wounds will open. There, she meets Miren (Ane Gabarain) and her husband Joxian (Mikel Laskurain), a family with whom she had friendly relations until ETA hit one of them. Miren wishes to have answers, far from any ideological revenge.
She just wants to know if Joxe Mari (Jon Olivares), the son of her former friend, was her husband’s killer. She knows he’s in jail, but she doesn’t know what his real role in the crime was.
A story from the past that marks the present
As Patria moves forward, backward and recounts the friendship between the two families, we understand that there are events that mark a before and after. The urgent need to position oneself through family, geographic or political mandates energizes the strongest emotional ties.
Returning to Txato’s death numerous times and replicating the footage from different angles, the series accurately details the effects of ETA extortion on social relations. It also emphasizes the fear, when it was not respected, that the organization was able to generate.
Patria, the series: when resentment prevails, nothing progresses
The series shows us how all families are emotionally devastated. The fact that ETA has given up has not made us forget the murders. On the other hand, as already specified, the series tries above all to give a vision of the tragedy as a whole.
Without exonerating the assassins, the series shows the transition of Abertzale, a young man who joins the group with his friend, an adventure for them which will gradually become hell. The story of the show is sometimes so equidistant that it seems – and to many it is – too generous with those who have shot children to the necks after days of kidnapping.
Gabilondo takes the viewer to a small community to show us what it’s like to live under threat. He also shows us how a friendship between families can turn into hatred. Political ideology has engulfed both sides and seems to dehumanize relations.
There is no room for superficiality in ideas and emotions
Miren’s role is particularly heartbreaking. A mother who, more than understanding towards her son, only seems to spread resentment. As an antithesis, there is his daughter Arantxa (Loreto Mauléon). With a courageous vision, she shows that what is truly revolutionary and transgressive is humanity towards others.
She continues to awaken good feelings even when life is always hitting. Arantxa is the rift through which hope seeps into Fatherland .
A series that talks less about what we believe than what we are. Snippets of stories determined by a context that can sometimes bring out the worst in us. It also makes us wonder: how many people supported terrorism?
How can an ideology blind us so much that it pushes us to kill, threaten, kidnap or try to subdue the other? Why today we do not know the identity of the murderers who have not yet been identified? And have we heard at least one “I’m sorry” from the executioners?