• Frontier Films Production
  • 1938
  • 45 minutes
  • Commissioned by the Medical Bureau
  • Script by Herbert Kline and Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • Photography by Jacques Lemare
  • Edited by Laura Sejour and Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • Commentary by Ben Maddow
  • Narrated by Richard Blaine
  • Music by Charles Koecklin

  • Return to Life


    Soon after Heart of Spain, Herbert Kline was commissioned by the Medical Bureau to return to Spain and create a second documentary on medical services in Madrid at Benicasim. It was produced to raise money for medical supplies, transportation, and hospitals. Like its predecessor, Return to Life (Victorie de la Vie in French) faced censorship in several countries for its controversial footage of civil war.


    Return to Life has four main divisions focusing, like Heart of Spain, on the medical care being given to soldiers and civilians. The first section shows daily street life in Madrid, the result of bombings, and the civilians receiving medical services for tuberculosis, shrapnel wounds, and typhus. The next section goes to the field to show medical aid being given there, followed by a military section with actual fighting. Separating the village scenes and fighting sequences is an interlude of footage of a village fiesta celebrating the opening of a American hospital. The fourth and final section of the film is the longest, featuring the main emphasis of the film, the life given through medicine.

    Also like Heart of Spain, Return to Life maintains a dialectical structure, alternating between civilian and military life, death and life restored.

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