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While several critical works on Spanish cinema have centred on the cultural, social and industrial significance of stars, there has been relatively little critical scholarship on what stars are paid to do: act. Bringing together a range of scholars that attend carefully to the performances, acting styles, and historical influences of Spanish film, Performance and Spanish Film is the first book to place the process of Spanish acting centre stage. Comprising fifteen original essays, the book casts light on the manifold meanings, methods and influences of Spanish screen performance, from the silent era to the present day. It situates the development of Spanish screen acting in both its national and global contexts, tracing acting techniques that are largely indigenous to Spain, as well as unpicking the ways in which Spanish performance has frequently been shaped by international influences and forces. As the volume ultimately demonstrates, acting can serve as a powerful site of meaning through which broader questions around Spanish film practices, culture and society can be explored.

Film and television

Previous studies of screen performance have tended to fix upon star actors, directors, or programme makers, or they have concentrated upon particular training and acting styles. Moving outside of these confines, this book provides an interdisciplinary account of performance in film and television and examines a much neglected area in people's understanding of how popular genres and performance intersect on screen. The advent of star studies certainly challenged the traditional notion of the director as the single or most important creative force in a film. Genre theory emerged as an academic area in the 1960s and 1970s, partly as a reaction to the auteurism of the period and partly as a way of addressing popular cinematic forms. Television studies have also developed catalogues of genres, some specific to the medium and some that refer to familiar cinematic genres. The book describes certain acting patterns in the classic noirs Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Out of the Past and the neo-noirs Chinatown. British television drama in the 1970s had a special interest in the genre of horror. There is no film genre to which performance is as crucial as it is to the biopic. To explore comedy performance is to acknowledge that there is something that defines a performance as 'comic'. The book also examines drama-documentary, the western, science fiction, comedy performance in 'spoof news' programmes and the television 'sit com' and popular Bollywood films.

Realism, recognition and representation

The hybrid television form of docudrama, blending documentary and drama conventions and modes of address, poses interesting methodological problems for an analysis of performance. Its topics, mise-en-scène and performers invite a judgement in relation to the real events and situations, settings and personae represented, and also in relation to the ways the viewer has perceived them in other media

in Genre and performance

To explore comedy performance is to acknowledge that there is something that defines a performance as ‘comic’; that is, that comedy performance is of a particular type which is distinct from other, more serious and/ or tragic texts. Furthermore, it is to acknowledge that comedy performance requires being read as such in order for its aims to be achieved; that is, comic acting must not only be funny

in Genre and performance

organs and skeletal structure, until all that is left is the indented outline of Bacon’s body on the soft foam cover of the gurney. The drama of this scene is accentuated as Bacon violently jerks and rolls his body to reveal the pain and agony of Sebastian’s transformation and the surrounding team react with shock and amazement. In a somewhat playful twist, as Sebastian disappears from the screen Bacon’s performance in this role

in Genre and performance

2 Performance and gesture as crisis in La aldea maldita/​The Cursed Village (Florián Rey, 1930) Sarah Wright1 Film acting has come to be understood as the production of ‘communicative signs that conceal their own ostensiveness under the guise of quotidian behaviour’ (Swender 2006:  7). As David Mayer similarly notes, ‘we expect that a cinema actor, with facial nuances, small suggestive gestures, and vocal modulations such as those we might use in our daily lives, will try to confirm the corporeality and actuality of the environment he or she inhabits’ (1999:  10

in Performance and Spanish film

Before I took up an academic career as a researcher and lecturer, I was an actor. Having said that, back in the 1980s, I remember making the decision to call myself a performer instead of an actor. If, in its most constricted sense, acting is understood as a sub-set of performance caught up in the rendering of a dramatic character, then this did not fully encompass what I felt I was doing at the time. In

in Genre and performance
Vocal performance, gesture and technology in Spanish film

5 The sounds of José Luis López Vázquez: vocal performance, gesture and technology in Spanish film Tom Whittaker To speak of the late actor José Luis López Vázquez is to speak of the history of Spanish sound acting. Alongside his characteristically manic gestures, López Vázquez’ was widely known for his distinctive style of vocal performance. Indeed, his last dramatic role in 2009 was that of a disembodied voice. López Vázquez was originally commissioned to provide the voice-​over for Pedro Olea’s theatrical adaptation of the film El pisito/​The Little Apartment

in Performance and Spanish film
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The performance of Basqueness by Carmelo Gómez and Silvia Munt

14 Body doubles: the performance of Basqueness by Carmelo Gómez and Silvia Munt Rob Stone Whereas regional stereotypes are often subject to parody, the construction of nationalist archetypes demands more formal analysis of the negotiations and compromises that feed into the performance of identity. Setting aside the eternal argument of whether Basque cinema actually exists,1 yet also hitting it head on, this chapter explores one of many paradoxes that inform and complicate its definition, namely a reliance upon the non-​Basque actors León-​born Carmelo Gómez and

in Performance and Spanish film
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Performance in the contemporary biopic

There is no film genre to which performance is as crucial as it is to the biopic. The genre’s appeal lies in seeing an actual person who did something interesting in life, known mostly in public, transformed into a character. Private behaviours and actions and public events as they might have been in the person’s time are formed together and interpreted dramatically. At the heart of the biopic is the

in Genre and performance