Author: Tom Whittaker

This is the first major study in English of cine quinqui, a cycle of popular Spanish films from the late 1970s and early 1980s that starred real-life juvenile delinquents. The book provides a close analysis of key quinqui films by directors such as Eloy de la Iglesia, José Antonio de la Loma and Carlos Saura, as well as the moral panics, public fears and media debates that surrounded their controversial production and reception. In paying particular attention to the soundtrack of the films, the book shows how marginal youth cultures during Spain’s transition to democracy were shaped by sound. It will be of interest to scholars and students of Spanish film, history and cultural studies, as well as to those working in sound studies and youth subcultures more broadly.

Tom Whittaker

In exploring the role of the songs in the quinqui film, this chapter demonstrates how they can contribute towards the understanding of the relationship between sound and space. The music articulates a structure of spatial mobility - in both the movement of migration routes, and the consumption of the songs as mobile objects through the prominent use of car stereos in the films - that is central to the shaping of migrant youth subculture during the Transition to democracy. The chapter illustrates how, through sound, the delinquents were able to actively produce a space of their own, both inside and outside the film text. It argues that the soundscape that they produced was one of resistance and transgression, and a crucial means of articulating their visibility in a geography that excluded them, and rendered them invisible.

in Screening songs in Hispanic and Lusophone cinema
Palimpsests of genre, palimpsests of violence
Tom Whittaker

Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo's La noche de los girasoles/The Night of the Sunflowers provides an archaeology of Spain's rural memory, where the rural emerges as traces of a violent and monstrous nightmare, which haunt the urban consciousness. This chapter shows that this tension is played out in the complex representation of landscape in the film. The landscape is primarily one of loss, trauma and fragmentation: it registers a nation unable to reconcile itself with its recent rural past and articulates a greater desire to nurture and preserve a way of life that is fast disappearing in the present. The discussion of the film contributes towards our understanding of the contemporary shifting structures of rural Spain, and its increasingly complex location in the national imaginary. The legacy of the rural genre appears to haunt the film and to find its most vivid expression in its representation of violence and landscape.

in Spanish cinema 1973–2010
Tom Whittaker

Pilar Miró's Gary Cooper, que estás en los cielos (Gary Cooper Who Art in Heaven) has long been regarded as one of the key films of Spain's transition to democracy. Unlike her previous films, Gary Cooper is firmly grounded in the contemporary social reality of Spanish women in the workplace during the transition to democracy. This chapter looks at a crucial aspect of the film that has been largely overlooked: its complex and contradictory engagement with pathos. It shows that the affective structure of Miro's film is a particularly revealing framework for exploring the ways in which female citizenship and identity were renegotiated during the transition. The chapter explores the ways in which pathos can be read as a political strategy in the film, paying particular attention to its relationship with the body, silence, music and the crucial role of the stardom of Gary Cooper.

in Hispanic and Lusophone women filmmakers
Vocal performance, gesture and technology in Spanish film
Tom Whittaker

This chapter explores the transition from post-synch to direct sound in Spanish cinema through a particular emphasis on José Luis López Vázquez’s voice. This chapter shows the ways in which sound design marked a shift in register from a gestural and presentational acting style to a more Stanislavskian mode of performance that stressed interiority and the unspoken. It further argues that direct sound shaped and transformed Spanish performance, reconfiguring the relationship between body and space in cinema. The analysis of López Vázquez’s vocal performance thus casts a light on the limits between the embodiment and disembodiment of performance and sound, as well as providing a means of tracing the emerging acting styles of the 1970s. The presence (and absence) of López Vázquez's voice in his performances, and how these were determined by the synchronisation of sound in post-production, provide a valuable opportunity to understand how technology and acting are linked in complex ways.

in Performance and Spanish film
Tom Whittaker

This chapter addresses the prominent role of rumbas – in particular those of the gypsy groups Los Chunguitos and Los Chichos – in cine quinqui. Coming from the similar kinds of marginal spaces that were depicted in the films, the music of these groups enacted a particularly close relationship between geography and sound. The chapter shows how the music of these gypsy groups dramatised a spatial mobility that was similar to that of the delinquents and their families in the films. It explores how the cross-promotion of music and film contributed to the cycle’s success, something that is particularly played out through their popular soundtrack albums. The chapter explores the extent to which, through sound, the delinquents were able to actively produce a space of their own, both inside and outside the film text, something that was aided by the relatively new invention of the radio cassette. It concludes by exploring the influence of rumbas on the contemporary quinqui rap of el Coleta, through analysis of his music videos.

in The Spanish quinqui film
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Tom Whittaker

The conclusion offers a brief reflection on two recent films, Criando ratas/Raising Rats (Carlos Salado, 2016) and Quinqui Stars (Juan Vicente Córdoba, 2018), which explore the parallels between the material and economic conditions of the delinquents in cine quinqui and those of young people in Spain today who face record unemployment. It concludes by considering the diverse ways in which the films analysed in the book reflected the acoustic experience of urban youth subcultures during the transition to democracy.

in The Spanish quinqui film
Tom Whittaker

This chapter centres on Navajeros/Knifers (1980), El pico/Overdose (1983) and El pico 2/Overdose 2 (1984), three quinqui films that the director Eloy de la Iglesia made with the actor José Luis Manzano. It explores how the soundtrack of the films contributed towards an aesthetics of shock and sensation, which in turn established a particularly visceral and intersubjective relationship with the audience. A key site of resonance in the films is the fragile body of the delinquent, which is visually and aurally emphasised through the texture of Manzano’s skin and the sound of his breath, particularly during moments of drug taking. The chapter explores how the relationship between skin and sound was crucial to the affective charge of de la Iglesia’s filmmaking. Through an analysis of haptic sound, in particular, the chapter traces the ways in which the film responded to public debates surrounding heroin abuse, whose distribution networks found themselves imbricated in the underlying social and political tensions within the Basque Country during this period.

in The Spanish quinqui film
Tom Whittaker

This chapter examines the broader social and political resonance of the delinquent voice in cine quinqui through an analysis of Deprisa, deprisa/Fast, Fast (Carlos Saura, 1981) and Yo, ‘el Vaquilla’/ I, ‘el Vaquilla’ (José Antonio de la Loma, 1985). The vocal performances of criminal non-actors, many of whom had no prior experience of speaking into microphones, provided Spanish narrative film with a naturalism that had rarely been heard. The chapter explores how the use of direct sound in these films registered the spontaneity of their voices within their immediate geographical surroundings, an effect which also emphasised their agency and the testimonial charge of their performances. It further explores how moral panics frequently swirled around the delinquent slang and voice. It also considers the political function of the voice of Juan José Moreno Cuenca, who became an unofficial spokesperson for penal reform in Spain.

in The Spanish quinqui film
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Tom Whittaker

This introduction provides an overview of cine quinqui within its broader historical, social, political and cinematic contexts. It explores how the quinqui film reflected public fears and moral panic around delinquency and social disorder during the early years of Spain’s democracy in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Through a consideration of the role of popular music, the delinquent voice, and the ambient sounds of peripheral barrios and prisons in the films, the introduction shows how sound not only gave expression to the geographical dislocation of youth subcultures but also established a close and affective bond between the films and their teenage audiences, the delinquent stars and their fans. It concludes by highlighting how the book makes an original contribution to studies on Spanish film and cultural studies, as well as providing an overview of its five chapters.

in The Spanish quinqui film