In 1875, while fighting in the trenches at Biscay, an army sergeant, Carmelo Mendiluze, learns that a neighbour from his village, Manuel Ilegorri, has joined his exhausted battalion. Desperate for news of his child's birth, he befriends the inexperienced soldier. Before long, Manuel's cowardly and selfish actions bring about tragic consequences. Thirty years later, the sons of Mendiluze and Iriguibel harbour deep-seated feelings of resentment towards one another, but their shared skill in the local art of log cutting – known as aizcolari – means that their fates remain interconnected. Before long, however, it will be the relationships between the sons and daughters of the two men that ensures that the families' histories are destined to become linked forever… Set against a backdrop of some of the key moments in Spanish history, Vacas beautifully explores the complex and intricate relationship between three generations of two Basque families.
This is quite a serious film, full of drama and anticipation, with great acting and camera work. The detail of the story is not always easy to follow and I found it rewarding to watch it several times during the rental period. The qualities of the soundtrack and the production also emerged more clearly with repeated viewings.