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Shining a light on horror
Ann Davies

This chapter discusses Ausentes, which turned Calparsoro from the war film to another genre, horror. The horror film has had a fairly large input from the United States but, unlike the war film, Hollywood does not possess a virtual monopoly on the horror genre. This version of horror has now become more prominent than the parody of directors such as de la Iglesia and Segura, as the demands of audiences and critics here coincide. Much of the critical reaction to the film focused on what was perceived as too close a homage to earlier horror film. The criticism of Calparsoro as slavishly copying horror classics on the part of the Spanish critics neglects the fact that horror is a particularly self-referential genre in which earlier horror films are knowingly quoted. Calparsoro himself lays proud claim to the recycling of horror elements, arguing that such recycling is positive, and refutes the idea that everything must be original. The critics do, however, appear to treat Calparsoro as an auteur to the extent that he is also judged in terms of his own work: Huerta, for instance, compares Ausentes to Calparsoro's previous work rather than to other horror filmmakers such as Balaguero or Amenabar.

in Daniel Calparsoro
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Ann Davies

This chapter provides conclusion for the book. Calparsoro's work brings into prominence some of the assumptions that undergird the framework of this work, and above all the concept of the auteur itself. In addition, Calparsoro's cinema is violent, this being the characteristic for which it is probably most noted. Unequal power relations always carry the possibility of violence; and much of the violence that occurs within Calparsoro's work reflects this. The violence of urban youth has formed a regular part of social realist cinema in Europe, while with his move to genre cinema Calparsoro has so far picked on specific genres that tend to violence. Violence is obviously inherent in the war film; and an ever-present possibility with horror, lurking beneath the surface of Ausentes until manifesting itself at the film's climax. When Calparsoro turns to war and horror genres the critique of violence is more muted. By the time the director immerses himself into genre film he has to some extent already been pigeonholed as the violent enfant terrible of Spanish cinema and critics are able to pigeonhole the violence of the films in exactly the same way: they make use of an auteurist conceptualisation to dismiss more detailed consideration of the representation of violence in Spanish cinema.

in Daniel Calparsoro
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Ann Davies

The ability of Spanish cinema to make convincing noir films, has been overshadowed by the success of Spain's flourishing novela negra, or noir novel, an integral part of the boom in Spanish detective fiction that emerged in the wake of Spain's transition to democracy. Neo-noir also granted Spanish culture an opportunity to explore more positive social and cultural changes. The disenchantment with public institutions apparent in these early neo-noirs gradually became of less interest to filmmakers than the anxieties of the private sphere. As political life stabilised, so tensions about the public sphere, inherently tagged as masculine, eased; and this may have facilitated the greater prominence of women as subject as well as object of noir narrative. The concept of retro noir has a particular resonance within contemporary Spain. Neo-noir helps to bring specifically Spanish realities, often uncomfortable ones, into the mainstream.

in European film noir