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El lápiz del carpintero (2003)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tristán Ulloa ... Daniel Da Barca
Luis Tosar ... Herbal
María Adánez María Adánez ... Marisa Mallo
Nancho Novo ... Zalo
María Pujalte ... Beatriz
Manuel Manquiña ... Benito Mallo
Anne Igartiburu ... Madre Izarne
Maxo Barjas Maxo Barjas ... Laura
Carlos Sobera Carlos Sobera ... Landesa
Sergio Pazos Sergio Pazos ... Sargento Somoza
Monti Castiñeiras ... Alejandro
Miguel de Lira Miguel de Lira ... Pepe Sánchez
Gonzalo Uriarte Gonzalo Uriarte ... Doctor Soláns
Celso Parada Celso Parada ... Gengis Kahn
Santi Prego Santi Prego ... Dombodán


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Una historia de amor y obsesión.




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Official Sites:

Official Site [Spain]





Release Date:

25 April 2003 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

Escrito en el destino See more »

Filming Locations:

A Coruña, Galicia, Spain


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


The author of the novel on which the film is based, Manuel Rivas, has a cameo in the film. When Daniel is first taken to the beach and lined up with other prisoners to be shot, Rivas appears to the right of him in a grey jumper. See more »

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User Reviews

Sucking it up to the easy box-office
21 February 2011 | by DwightFrySee all my reviews

Once again a Galician language book gets lost in translation and ends up becoming a Spanish language movie. However, unlike cases like "La lengua de las mariposas", sourced in the works of the same writer, Manuel Rivas, as this one is, they should have known better because this time around the director/producer was a Galician, and used to be a "galeguista" (active supporter of the everyday use and presence of the Galician language and culture, literally a "Galicianist").

Antón Reixa was probably the best known figure of the Galician "movida" of the eighties, as a musician and performance artist with his band "Os Resentidos" (who can forget "Galicia caníbal"?), a counter-culture icon, and an outspoken "galeguista", even said by some to be connected with the most radical activist groups. Then in the late nineties he became a TV producer/director and gave the world the series "Mareas vivas", in Galician, an enormous hit among the audiences and, while lacking subtlety and complexity in the treatment of its subjects, a gigantic step forward in the normalization of the Galician language use (and the revelation of the great Luis Tosar to the world). It's 2003 and the once anti-system icon is now a filthy rich producer about to direct his first feature film. So what does he do? Become a pioneer and give the Galician language a more prominent place in the audiovisual industry, by adapting a Galician book into a Galician language film?

Of course not. He succumbs to the easy Spanish box-office, and makes the movie in Spanish with one of the main characters being played by a non-Galician, María Adánez, that while doesn't stink too much, does nothing that any Galician actress couldn't have done, and probably better. Adánez was cast, as it's sadly common in Spanish cinema, not for her acting ability or for being right for the role, but for being famous as the star of a very successful Spanish sitcom, so deemed as a marketable "production value". As a result, we have a movie set in Galicia and including characters that are "galeguistas", in which no one speaks Galician. Okay, the Fascist would likely speak Spanish, all right, so the use of both languages would have been perfect, but if one has to choose, Galician is what the movie deserved, and the movie was needed for the invisible presence of Galician language in cinema. Given the sweeping TV success of "Mareas vivas", this movie would have probably worked wonders for the language's normalization in theaters, had it been in Galician. Reixa was just in that position. However, he sadly preferred the quick buck (and misfired, this wasn't exactly "Avatar" in the box-office either).

Oh, yes, of course, a Galician dubbed version of the movie exists, but a German language dubbed version of "Star Wars" exists too, and that does not make "Star Wars" a German language movie, if you know what I mean.

Sorry for the rant. I realize this is difficult to understand for someone who's not Galician and doesn't live the language conflict, but try to imagine a French movie set in Nazi-occupied France, filmed all in German, in which no one speaks French, including the Resistance. Same effect here.

And, as for the movie on its own merits? Weak, and a missed opportunity. What could have been a masterpiece had it been an introspective exploration of the character of Herbal (they even had the right actor in Tosar) and what makes him tick, becomes yet another shallow Spanish Civil War movie that barely scratches the surface of its conflict, and is ultimately about good guys that are not only idealists to the point of moving mountains, but are also super-attractive and beloved to everyone including the Civil Guards (the main character played by Tristán Ulloa convincing the Guards to let him enjoy a hotel night with his wife is a howler), except for the evil Fascists that hate him purely because they are evil, and are seen as repulsive by everyone around. I truly wish things had been this simple in real life, that would have spared us forty years of dictatorship!

The good things to look for are Tosar and a lot of well known Galician actors in supporting and bit roles. Aside from Adánez, the two other non-Galician cast members are Carlos Sobera and Anne Igartiburu, both much better known as TV hosts than as actors, which are kind of excusable because they play non-Galicians, but pretty much suck in their performances, particularly Igartiburu as a highly unlikely glamour nun. The moment in which she removes her headpiece to reveal her long blonde hair in a carefully crafted hairstyle beats any camp classic of the past.

Years have passed and Galician language is still almost unheard of in theatrical features, with about only Ignacio Vilar going against the Spanish-imposing trend. And as for Reixa, he went on to direct another feature, also in Spanish. The "galeguista" belongs in the past, so let him enjoy the extra bucks he made by sucking it up, and forget about him. 4/10.

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