Radford plans Spanish civil war movie


June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 14, 2009 at 3:11 AM EDT

British director Michael Radford, who made the Oscar-nominated "Il Postino" set in Italy, said he is planning a sort of follow-up that will be set during the 1936-39 Spanish civil war.

"La Mula" ("The Mule") is the story of a Francoist soldier, Juan Castro, who is more concerned with the condition of one of his mules than with winning the war.

He is ready to cross the battle lines for the animal, and eventually becomes a war hero.

"I see it in a way like a suite, I made three films like this in my life, one was called 'Another Time, Another Place' and then the next one was 'Il Postino' and then this one, 'La Mula'," he said in an interview.

"They recount the stories of ordinary people who are trying to live a dream which is bigger than they are."

"Il Postino", or "The Postman", told the story of the friendship between a postman and Chilean writer Pablo Neruda, exiled to an Italian island off the coast of Naples.

Radford hopes "La Mula" can bring him the same kind of international acclaim he achieved with that film, which was nominated for several Oscars.

"La Mula" is still in pre-production with shooting scheduled to begin over 10 weeks from September, mainly in the southern region of Andalucia, on a budget of 7.0 million euros.

The all-Spanish cast has been chosen, along with 17 mules.

"Every year I get three or four projects which are similar in some kind of way to 'Il Postino' but usually they are terrible," he said.

"This project had something about it, the script was awful, but it had a nice idea and I went back to the original book," written by Spaniard Juan Eslava Galan, he said.

"This is not really a film about the Spanish civil war. It is, because it can't help being, but it's a comedy," said the 62-year-old director.

The filmmaker, who also made "1984" starring John Hurt and "White Mischief" set in Kenya and starring Greta Scacchi, said he is interested in the period though he does not know Spain well.

"It's a cultural shock, it's a big adventure because the film is not just in Spanish but it's deeply Spanish even though it's written by a British guy."

We therefore tried to "express the culture without making a mistake," he said.

"I did that one time in Italy with 'Il Postino'. I thought I could do that easily but actually I forgot how painful it is."

To learn more about the civil war, he also watched the 1995 film "Land and Freedom", by his compatriot Ken Loach, about the International Brigades that fought the forces of fascist General Francisco Franco.

My film will be "very different film, more funny," he said.

He hopes "La Mula" will be considered for next year's Cannes film festival, but said that that kind of recognition is less important to him now.

"When I was younger it used to mean a lot to me, now it means less. If I have to choose, I think I'd rather make a film that the public goes to see than which the festival people like."

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