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.

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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
Tom Whittaker

This chapter focusses on the initial cycle of quinqui films directed by José Antonio de la Loma, films which featured the first delinquent stars: Perros callejeros/Street Warriors (1977), Perros callejeros 2: Busca y captura/Street Warriors 2 (1979) and Los últimos golpes de ‘el Torete’/El Torete’s Last Blows. The films became known for their exhilarating car chases and action sequences, scenes which usually featured stolen SEAT 124 vehicles. The chapter shows that while the sensational rush of speed was integral to the pleasures of these films, these sensations also revealed social tensions which surrounded teenage crime and its broader relationship to consumerism during this period. In exploring the ways in which marginal youth subcultures were shaped by destructive speed, the chapter also shows that the films pointed to how Spain’s recent embrace of consumerist capitalism had developed too rapidly, and its contradictions could not be supported by an authoritarian and poorly funded criminal justice system.

in The Spanish quinqui film
Civil insecurity, democracy and the home
Tom Whittaker

This chapter provides an analysis of Ignacio F. Iquino’s Los violadores del amanecer/Rapists at Dawn (1977), Lara Polop’s La patria de el ‘Rata’/No Exit (1980) and Eloy de la Iglesia’s Miedo a salir de noche/Fear of Going Out at Night (1980), films which explore the growing sense of civil insecurity during these years through the perspective of victims of delinquency. The chapter explores how the soundscape of the home in these films is threatened through the deviant sounds of delinquents, as well as through the noises of alarms, sirens, explosions and other ambient noises. Through exploring the acoustic borders between inside and outside, private space and public space, the chapter ultimately aims to show how the films revealed anxieties around the subject of public order during these years, a concept that came to be radically reconfigured within Spain’s new 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
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
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

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