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La Muerte de Mikel

La Muerte de Mikel

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La Muerte de Mikel is a 1984 Spanish film directed by Imanol Uribe
Imanol Uribe
Imanol Uribe is an award-winning Spanish screenwriter and film director.He was born in San Salvador, and is of Basque ancestry. Uribe was married to María Barranco...

, starring Imanol Arias
Imanol Arias
Imanol Arias born Manuel María Arias Domínguez , is a Spanish actor and one off film director.Imanol Arias began his career with a travelling theatre group in Spain performing in the Basque Country of northern Spain. He debuted on TV in 1976 and his first film was in "Cecilia " of 'Humberto Solas'...

. The film tells in flash back, the story of a gay member of ETA
ETA , an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country...

 who died under mysterious circumstances.


The film opens at Mikel's funeral mass. A flashback spins out the circumstances of his life and death.

Mikel, a young pharmacist involved in Basque Nationalist politics is living in Lekeitio, a Basque coastal town. When his wife, Begoña, returns from a long trip abroad, he picks her up at the airport. Their marriage is unhappy; the relationship between the couple is tense. Begoña wants to resolve their problems, but Mikel is indifferent. In the encounter after the return, the couple visits Mikel’s domineering mother, Doña Maria Luisa, a widow who lives in the same small town. The relationship between mother and son is also fractured. Mikel and Begoña have an argument when she tells him that she has discussed their sexual problems with his mother. They are going to have supper to house of a pair of friends, Martín a doctor who has arrived at the town fleeing the Chilean dictatorship and Martin’s wife, Arantza. The calm of town is disrupted with the senseless death of two young people, who did not stop in a nocturnal control and were killed by the Civil Guard. Mikel attends a political meeting, and is offered a seat in the next local election for the Basque independent party to which he belongs. Mikel takes parts in local festivities. At dawn, he arrives drunk at home. Having sex with his wife, Mikel bites Begoña's clitoris during an alcohol-fuelled attempt at oral sex. This incident effectively marks the end of their marriage.

The next day Martín, takes cares of Begoña's wounds inflected in the attack and as a friend and mentor to Mikel, he recommends him a therapist in Bilbao. After his first session, Mikel joins an old friend in a bar and gets drunk. Mikel wakes up the following morning, knowing that he has had sex with Fama, a female impersonator, whose show he has seen at the bar. Realizing what he has done, humiliated and confused, Mikel embarks on a suicidal drive down the wrong side of the motorway, but swerves aside in time to avoid a crash.

Begoña moves out and a new chapter begins in Mikel’s life. Uninvited, Fama comes to the town and gives Mikel a surprise visit in the pharmacy where he works. She offers him emotional support and recounting the story of her life, she encourages him to come to term with his sexuality. Mikel has a meeting with Begoña and is forgiven by her. He tells her that never before he has seen the future with promise like now. However, when his homosexual relationship becomes public, his political comrades reject him. Mikel’s proud mother is horrified with her son homosexual relationship. Mikel is arrested and questioned about ETA activities. His friend, Martin, has confessed that years ago both helped a wounded E.TA member to escape to France. Resisting with dignity the violent attempts of the police to get information out of him, Mikel comes out of prison enthusiastic about developing his relationship with Fama. The next morning his brother finds him death in bed in his mother's home. His death is not explained, but cinematography points clearly to the mother, who has already stated that she will not accept the public humiliation of Mikel's homosexual relationship. Mikel’s political comrades who rejected him in life appropriate his death as a forum for political protest.


  • Imanol Arias
    Imanol Arias
    Imanol Arias born Manuel María Arias Domínguez , is a Spanish actor and one off film director.Imanol Arias began his career with a travelling theatre group in Spain performing in the Basque Country of northern Spain. He debuted on TV in 1976 and his first film was in "Cecilia " of 'Humberto Solas'...

     - Mikel
  • Monserrat Salvador – Doña Maria Luisa, Mikel’s mother
  • Amaia Lasa - Begoña
  • Fama - Fama (Fernando Telletxea)
  • Martín Adjermián: Martin
  • Alicia Sánchez - Arantxa
  • Xabier Elorriaga
    Xabier Elorriaga
    Xabier Elorriaga is a contemporary Venezuelan film and TV actor, writer and director.- Biography :...

     - Iñaki, Mikel's brother


La Muerte de Mikel was filmed in Lekeitio
Lekeitio is a town and municipality located in the province of Biscay, in the Spanish Autonomous Community of Basque Country, 53 km northeast from Bilbao. The municipality has 7,293 inhabitants and is one of the most important fishing ports of the Basque coast...

, a small town in the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

. Some scenes, like those that take place in the gay-club with Fama, were shot in Bilbao
Bilbao ) is a Spanish municipality, capital of the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. With a population of 353,187 , it is the largest city of its autonomous community and the tenth largest in Spain...


La Muerte de Mikel did very well at the box office. It was the most successful film in a relative boom resulting from increased Basque government subsidies between 1982 and 1987.
It was also among the top-grossing Spanish films of 1984 and precipitated interest in regional Spanish Cinema. Uribe became the best known Basque filmmakers of the 1980s with this, his strongest film up to that point.

Like The Crying Game
The Crying Game
The Crying Game is a 1992 psychological thriller drama film written and directed by Neil Jordan. The film explores themes of race, gender, nationality, and sexuality against the backdrop of the Irish Troubles...

(1992) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), La muerte de Mikel juxtaposes revolutionary politics with homosexuality to examine ideological suppression of difference .