Frozen Silence – Silencio en la nieve (2012) Spanish WWII Thriller

Frozen Silence

Set on the Russian front in 1943, this thriller shows a lesser known aspect of WWII, namely Spain’s participation on the Russian front. I may not be the history buff I should be to write a blog like this, so, in all honesty, I have to admit, I had no clue the Spanish were fighting on the Russian front alongside the Germans. The Blue Division or División Azul  (also called División Española de voluntarios, meaning Division of volunteers) was a division of Spanish volunteers, the 250th Division of the German army. Franco had allowed these volunteers to join up. Most of these men were right-wing, falangists, only a very few were communists.

I knew this was a thriller, therefore I didn’t expect to see all that much about the war as such. The 250th Division must have seen some heavy fighting, but we only get a taste of it. Nevertheless I liked this film a great deal. It works as a gripping thriller, but it also conveys a feeling for what it must have been like for the Spanish to fight with the Germans. There was a lot of hostility, and the Germans made them feel their superiority constantly.

The story starts with a chilling image. A frozen lake full of dead horses. When the soldiers of the Spanish division approach they find a dead man among these horses. His throat has been cut and an inscription has been carved into his skin “God Sees Everything”. The Spanish commander appoints a former police officer, Andrade, to investigate the case.

Arturo Andrade goes about this investigation with great care. At first it looks las if the victim was a pro-Soviet agent, later when there are further murders a possible lead points towards freemasons.

There is a longer sequence towards the end of the movie which is reminiscent of the Deer Hunter Russian Roulette scene, only this one here is even more chilling. I wonder if this is truth or fiction. Did they really play Russian Roulette to the extent it’s shown here?

I liked the mood and the atmosphere of this beautifully filmed movie. It has a lot of great scenes. I enjoyed the characters and the story as well and I’m glad it made me aware of the Spanish participation in WWII. I think this is fascinating material and well-worth a “proper” war movie. I’m afraid though that not many Spanish film makers would want to portray the División Azul. After all they were falangists and, as it seems, quite heroic. Depicting their heroism could be interpreted as pro-Franco, I guess.

The movie is based on a novely by Ignacio del Valle.

I found the Spanish trailer but none with subtitles and another trailer below in which nobody talks.


18 thoughts on “Frozen Silence – Silencio en la nieve (2012) Spanish WWII Thriller

  1. Bulletskill says:

    Thank you, this is one I’ve certainly never heard of. I did read recently in a book that Hitler tried to get Spain to enter the war on the Axis side and it did fleetingly mention Spain sending a unit to fight on the Eastern Front, but that was my sum total knowledge on the subject. By the look of the clips it looks like a well staged and acted production, with a bit of intrigue added to the action in respect of the first killing you describe.

    Many thanks, I’ll see if this is available on Amazon and may take it further!

    • But be aware, despite the trailers, it’s much more thriller than war movie but I think they got the setting very well and the mood too. Sometimes a movie like this will lead to another one. I wold wish, thye would make a film on this.
      I’d also like to see agood Italian movie on the Eastern Front although I’m afraid they were not that heroic.

  2. Bulletskill says:

    Thanks, it definitely sounds like one to look out for.

  3. Guy Savage says:

    Fascists always stick together.
    I hadn’t heard of this film so I’ll try and find a copy.

  4. TBM says:

    I didn’t know they fought on the Russian Front either.

  5. the war movie buff says:

    Thanks for the review. I was not aware of this unit, but upon reading about it I can see why it existed. Franco owed Hitler for his aid during the Spanish Civil War and there were a lot of warriors in Spain who wanted to continue their careers. War can be addictive. Hitler gave the unit a medal, I am assuming because being a volunteer unit it fought so much better than all the other national units that were forced to fight on the Eastern Front.

    • I’m relieved you didn’t know it either. It’s an interesting aspect and one that would deserve a closer look.
      I wonder if they were so good because they were volunteers but I suppose you are right and that’s the reason.
      I’d be interested to know how this was receibed in Spain. Must be a controversial topic.

  6. Casey says:

    Sounds interesting. I have heard them before. From what I have heard Franco was under pressure from Hitler and his own country men to join the war. With no interest in fighting by letting the more fanatical members fight for Germans, he killed two birds with one stone. Hitler received some Spanish help while Franco had a safety valve to get rid of the more hardcore fascists that were causing him trouble. On a side note I know they have have some sort of record for one of the of longest marches in recent history.

    • You clearly knew more than most of us. Put like that it seems it was a canny idea to allow this division.

    • nem baj says:

      Casey is spot on, there was an internal conflict in the Spanish regime – and the division as such was eventually dissolved in 1943. Actually it became a bit embarrassing internationally after the war, as the recycling of straight fascists into “politically correct” anti-communists wasn’t so easy. And still isn’t.

      The only film about the volunteers – before the present one – was made in 1956: Embajadores en el infierno. It’s a PoW movie (the release of Spanish prisoners by the USSR had begun right after Stalin’s death). I think it’s on youtube.

      I know the two country’s histories are different, however I can’t imagine a French filmmaker today shooting a movie about the Französische Brigade der SS.

      • Maybe not. Brrr Französiche Brigae der SS. Sounds awful. Didn’t really know about that either.
        Thanks for the link. I’ll see if I can watch it on on YouTube. Sounds like an interesting angle.

      • nem baj says:

        The ‘Charlemagne’ SS division – not to be mixed up with the Alsatians and Mosellans forcibly enrolled – has quite a story; they ended up defending Hitler’s bunker against the Red Army! Yet, I think the mystique in Spain surrounding the Division Azul is incomparably stronger, because those who came back became part of the Spanish regular armed forces – and of the country’s official political life.

        About the Embajadores: don’t get your hopes too high. I dropped watching it because of the heavy propaganda (but then perhaps also because my Spanish is limited).

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