According to available data, the Basque separatist organization ETA killed 829 (of which 340 civilians) and injured thousands of people from 1968 until 2010, when it finally announced the cessation of hostilities. Today, the Basque Country is finally a province where one can live normally, without fear for life and security, and the series created by Aitor Gabilondo, based on the bestseller of the Basque writer Fernando Aramburu, who has lived in Germany since 1985, perfectly shows what life was like in that province while ETA was active. It goes without saying that “Patria” thrilled me and I would rank this shocking, authentic, realistic and humanistic series among the best European series of the last few years. One simply bursts into tears when one sees how much the world has been obsessed in recent years with another series that came from Spain (Casa de papel or Money Heist), which after a solid introduction turned into a monumental thrash, while for such a smart, deep, complex and important content probably few have heard.
The story begins with the announcement that ETA is finally disarming and ending the armed struggle and activities that have paralyzed the entire Basque Country for decades. When she sees the news, the old widow Bittori (Elena Irureta) goes to the grave of her husband who was killed by ETA 15 or more years ago. Given the new circumstances and peace, Bittori decides to return home, to a small town near San Sebastian where she normally lived with her family until the insane and senseless attack in which her Txato (Jose Ramon Soroiz) is killed. As their names suggest, both Bittori and Txato are Basques, people born there, but that has not stopped members of the organization from organizing the assassination of this small entrepreneur.
In parallel with the story in the present in which Bittori is finally trying to find answers to the questions that haunt her in the old days and about which the real vow of silence was not spoken out of fear of separatist retaliation, we follow what happened fifteen years earlier. Who and why killed the good and honest man Txata and how in almost identical ways the lives of many people who just wanted to live normally and work honestly were destroyed. From the beginning, it is clear to us that nothing here is simple and monotonous. There are no black and white, classic positives and negatives, and “Patria” especially thrilled me because it masterfully shows what the life of average, ordinary people looked like at a certain time in a certain area.
The situation is especially problematic with ETA groups, because while for some they fought a just struggle for liberation, for the vast majority they were the most ordinary terrorists for whom the fight was just an excuse to sow fear, death and complete chaos. Although many years have passed since the assassination of Txata, no one in the place will be delighted with Bittori’s return. Especially not Miren (Ana Gabarain), also an old woman we will soon find out was once a close friend of Bittori. Both Txato and Mirena’s husband Joxian (Mikel Laskurain) were once close friends, their children (who have grown up in the meantime) socialized with each other and were regular guests with each other, but when Txato was declared the target of ETA, his whole family it has become marked.
And all this is brilliantly shown because we follow this whole story from the perspective of several characters, a bit elliptically the story constantly revolves around the central event or the assassination of Txata. We will see how this event affected not only his family, Bittori, their son and daughter, but also another family, their three children. It is important to note that the eldest son of Miren and Joxian, Joxe Mari (Jon Olivares) became an active member of ETA and through the segment about him we see how this organization was actually organized and how it worked. On the example of Txat, the owner of the transport company, we will see how it was financed because he will be in danger when he refuses to pay the racket to ETA, which has been blackmailing, blackmailing and intimidating him, and probably many like him.
Once he refuses to pay the racket, and the messages “Txato traitor” start appearing on the facades of houses, the whole town where he was a respectable and respected member of the community until yesterday, will start behaving as if he no longer exists. It is only in these moments that we realize what life was like in mortal fear and how the average, ordinary, people, as they always are in the majority, did not dare to do anything because it is clear to them that ETA does not choose means in its struggle. There is no mercy here, and although it was clear to virtually every average Basque resident that ETA’s struggle does more harm than good to all of them, no one dared to do anything for fear of their own lives and the lives of their families. “Patria” is a series that I can’t find a single flaw no matter how hard I try, a perfectly rounded series with built and rounded characters that we can fully understand and a series with which it becomes at least a little clearer what life really looked like in that corner of the world. Rating 10/10 .
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