Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Based on a 1943 book of the same title by Camilo José Cela, Colmena features the comings and goings of a wide variety of characters, all trying to survive in a poverty-stricken Madrid during World War II. Rather than feature any single story line, these people from all walks of life cross paths almost randomly as they come to a café to sip their one cup of coffee and work on a book, or pick up a prostitute, or get their shoes shined, or play billiards, or just warm themselves on a cold winter's day. This primary setting is complemented by a brothel where a dirt-poor journalist sleeps if there is a room available that night, while during the day he tries to make ends meet one way or another. The demeanor of the people in the café or in the brothel effectively conveys the atmosphere of a long-lost era that may have had hardships but also brought a subtle sense of camaraderie to very disparate human beings.
against-all-odds, journalism, poverty