The dreams and losses entailed by the Spanish Civil War have been captured in many films. In Spain, however, the war is often looked at from the vantage point of its aftermath, such as in Victor Erice's classic, El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive, 1973), and, more recently, in David Trueba's adaptation of Javier Cercas' novel, Soldados de Salamina (Soldiers of Salamis, 2003). This article scrutinises the intimate relationship between the haunting presence of the war in these films and their use of a female protagonist to signify that past. The myth of the Spanish Civil War, I argue, is reinforced by the way in which audiences ‘see’ it through the innocent eyes of Erice's Ana or those of Trueba's Lola. These females become, for us, true speakers of the war and its effects, thus contributing to the reification of a historical past that has been made attractive precisely by the sadness that it conveys.