Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde (4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975), known simply as Francisco Franco was a Spanish military general and head of state of Spain from October 1936 – a unified nation from 1939 onwards – and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November 1975. He came to power as a prominent member of the far-right Falange movement. As head of state, Franco used the title Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios, meaning Leader of Spain, by the grace of God.
Historically speaking, Franco is, today, mostly regarded one-dimensionally: as the brutal, autocratic Fascist dictator, who ruled his land and its people for almost four decades with an iron fist. This point of view, although indeed valid, is yet too analogous.
Without euphemising or attempting to minimize the autocratic and suppressive character of the Franco regime, our film seeks to portray that the "Generalissimo", despite his reclusiveness and virtual "invisibility", was a complex and multi-faceted personality full of contradictions.
The film does not propose answering all questions of historical context or provide an ultimate political evaluation; nor does it seek to conclusively solve the "Enigma of Franco" for all time. But, based on in-depth examination of existing evidence and painstaking research, it will present many facts hitherto unknown, cast a new light on numerous aspects, while adding fresh, previously unknown, information to much that is already accepted; for example:
- the viewpoints of close family members (daughter, grandson) and former companions of the private man, Francisco Franco;
- highlighting the role that the "Spirit of Francoism" still plays in present day Spain and the underlying question as to whether the extensive tabooing of the Franco era has allowed this spirit to survive longer than would probably have been the case had there been a thorough historic reappraisal.
These aspects, among others, and hitherto undisclosed information will enable the viewer to form his own – possibly revised – opinion of Franco.
Singular about the author's approach is the fact that, as a Briton living in Germany, he is able to cast a neutral and non-judgemental light on the Franco era and its consequences on present day Spain. No Spanish film-maker could ever make a film of this kind – not even today, more than 35 years after Franco's death: too great is the unexplained taboo with which politics and modern Spanish society have documented this "unpopular" portion of their history… with the result that most of today's 46 million Spaniards know far too little about this slice of recent history.
With suspense and excitement, the film will document the mystery still surrounding the "Franco enigma". This multidimensional view of the "Caudillo" and his inconsistencies are summarised as follows:
- Brutal dictator vs. unwitting or intentional pioneers of democracy;
- Collaborator with Nazi Germany vs. non-participation in the Holocaust, in which nearly all European countries were involved and, in addition, non-entry into World War ll - much to Hitler's displeasure;
- Autocratic Fascist ruler vs. no known, significant resistance movements or assassination attempts;
- Isolation of the country vs. opening it up to foreign investors;
- Spartan, indeed ascetic, lifestyle without any kind of personality cult vs. veneration as "glorious leader";
- Deeply devout ("Caudillo or Leader by the Grace of God") vs. manipulation of the Church to retain power;
- Nebulous belief in supernatural strength and powers vs. sober pragmatism and high principles;
- Introverted, shy, slight of stature with a high-pitched voice vs. powerful "Caudillo" for almost four decades;
- Cold and unemotional vs. tendency towards emotional outbursts;
- Moral attitudes ("More pope-like than the Pope") vs. tolerance of corruption;
- Simple "man of the people", demonstrated by regular visits to popular flamenco performances and bullfights vs. personal aversion towards such Spanish traditions.