Abstract only

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book offers a new lens through which to examine Spain's cinematic production following the decades of isolation imposed by the Franco regime. At the heart of this project lies an examination of the ways in which established auteurs and younger generations of filmmakers have harnessed cinematic language towards a commentary on the nation-state and the politics of historical and cultural memory. The films discussed in the book encompass different genres (horror, thriller, melodrama, documentary), both popular and more select arthouse fare, and are made in different languages: English, Basque, Castilian, Catalan and French. The book focuses on locating how the different films treat wider issues of landscape (both rural and urban, abstract and concrete, filmic and theatrical) and memory in relation to the political shifts of Spain's history since the late 1970s.

in Spanish cinema 1973–2010
Silence, historical memory and metaphor

Recent scholarship on transnational cinema has questioned long-held understandings of what might be termed an 'authentic' national film. Even Pedro Almodovar has acknowledged a political inflection to his recent work grounded in issues of historical memory. It is perhaps not insignificant that Almodovar's production company, El Deseo, was the Spanish co-producer of Lucrecia Martel's La mujer sin cabeza/The Headless Woman. This chapter argues that the film enunciates a trauma of collective guilt and grief that remains unarticulated in overt narrative terms. A hit-and-run contemporary thriller where plot gradually gives way to metaphor, The Headless Woman clinically dissects the mechanisms that operate a culture of the disappeared. Martel uses the hit-and-run narrative to comment on a society in denial. This is a film about the unspoken privileges that underpin a society. Spanish critics seemed wilfully reluctant to accept the film as a parable on the collective history of the disappeared.

in Spanish cinema 1973–2010
‘Performing’ la crisis

This chapter examines Almodóvar’s film Los amantes pasajeros/I’m So Excited! against the backdrop of Spain’s economic crisis. Describing the shift of director Pedro Almodóvar from melodrama to drawing room farce made evident in this film, the chapter highlights its theatricality; in so doing, it argues that the Los amantes pasajeros owes much to broad traditions of theatre acting that range from vaudeville, to mime to classic Shakespearian. The language of theatrical acting that the film employs, to that end, incorporates gestures and dramatic histrionics in order to make a clear indictment of the current state of Spain in crisis. By making clear the links between the politics of acting and acting out politics, the chapter’s account of performance further demonstrates just how nuanced the landscape of Spanish acting can be.

in Performance and Spanish film
Auteurism, politics, landscape and memory

This book is a collection of essays that offers a new lens through which to examine Spain's cinematic production following the decades of isolation imposed by the Franco regime. The films analysed span a period of some 40 years that have been crucial in the development of Spain, Spanish democracy and Spanish cinema. The book offers a new lens to examine Spain's cinematic production following the decades of isolation imposed by the Franco regime. The figure of the auteur jostles for attention alongside other features of film, ranging from genre, intertexuality and ethics, to filmic language and aesthetics. At the heart of this project lies an examination of the ways in which established auteurs and younger generations of filmmakers have harnessed cinematic language towards a commentary on the nation-state and the politics of historical and cultural memory. The films discussed in the book encompass different genres, both popular and more select arthouse fare, and are made in different languages: English, Basque, Castilian, Catalan, and French. Regarded universally as a classic of Spanish arthouse cinema, El espíritu de la colmena/The Spirit of the Beehive has attracted a wealth of critical attention which has focused on political, historical, psychological and formal aspects of Víctor Erice's co-authored film-text. Luis Bunuel's Cet obscur objet du désir/That Obscure Object of Desire, Catalan filmmaker Ventura Pons' Ocana. Retrat Intermitent/Ocana. An Intermittent Portrait, Francisco Franco's El Dorado, Víctor Erice's El sol del membrillo/The Quince Tree Sun, and Julio Medem's Vacas/Cows are some films that are discussed.