Spain as an entity and Spanish cultural identity are no less difficult to pin
down as the concept of the nation state is simultaneously assailed by political,
economic and cultural globalisation and the fragmentation of the state by the
demands of its autonomous communities. This book presents a coherent picture of
the main narrative, thematic, stylistic and representational trends which have
characterised the recent cinema produced in Spain. It seeks to explore the
obsession of Spanish cinema with the past and its role as part of a wider
recuperation industry. The book examines the varied forms of historical cinema
ranging from literary adaptation and period drama to retro thriller and musical.
It offers an analysis of other main forms of genre cinema which have dominated
the commercial industry and the popular imagination in Spain since the 1970s.
The book explores constructions of gender and sexuality across a wide range of
examples taken from a variety of contemporary movies. It also focuses on cinema
in the autonomous communities, mainly Catalonia and the Basque Country. The
period 1993 to 1994 was perhaps one of the most difficult for the film industry
in post-Franco Spain, particularly in relation to production totals and audience
figures. The setting Institut de Cinema Catalá offered a new forum for
debate and inaugurated the first of a number of attempts to define what Catalan
film and a Catalan film industry ought to be doing and how Catalan professionals
should develop their sector.
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.
In the full-length treatment of the child in Spanish cinema, this book explores the ways that the cinematic child comes to represent 'prosthetic memory'. The cinematic children in the book retain traces of their mechanical origins: thus they are dolls, ventriloquists' dummies, cyborgs or automata. Moreover, by developing the monstrous undertones evoked by these mechanical traces (cinema such as 'Frankensteinian dream'), these films, in different ways, return repeatedly to a central motif. The central motif is the child's confrontation with a monster and, derivatively, the theme of the monstrous child. Through their obsessive recreation over time, the themes of the child and the monster and the monstrous child come to stand in metonymically for the confrontation of the self with the horrors of Spain's recent past. The book focuses on the cine religioso (religious cinema), in particular, Marcelino, pan y vino. The children of cine religioso appear like automata, programmed to love unconditionally an absent mother. The book then examines the Marisol's films from the 1960s and the way she was groomed by her creators to respond and engineer the economic and cultural changes of the consumerist Spain of the 1960s. It further deals with Victor Erice's El espiritu de la colmena and works through cinematic memories of this film in later works such as El laberinto del fauno, El orfanato and El espinazo del diablo. The films are seen to gesture towards the imaginary creation of a missing child.
A generation ago, Spain was emerging from a nearly forty-year dictatorship. This book analyses the significant changes in the aesthetics, production and reception of Spanish cinema and genre from 1990 to the present. It brings together European and North American scholars to establish a critical dialogue on the topic of contemporary Spanish cinema and genre while providing multiple perspectives on the concepts of national cinemas and genre theory. The book addresses a particular production unit, the Barcelona-based Fantastic Factory as part of the increasingly important Filmax group of companies, with the explicit aim of making genre films that would have an appeal beyond the Spanish market. It explores the genrification of the Almodovar brand in the US media and cinematic imaginary as a point of departure to tackle how the concepts of genre, authorship and Spanish cinema itself acquire different meanings when transposed into a foreign film market. Melodrama and political thriller films have been a narrative and representational form tied to the imagining of the nation. The book also examines some of the aspects of Carícies that distinguish it from Pons's other entries in his Minimalist Trilogy. It looks briefly at the ways in which the letter acts as one of the central melodramatic gestures in Isabel Coixet's films. After an analysis of the Spanish musical from the 1990s until today, the book discusses Spanish immigration films and some Spanish-Cuban co-productions on tourism and transnational romance.
, disdainfully remarked: ‘Los últimos 13 años
del cine español han sido los peores de la historia’ (The
last 13 years of Spanishcinema have been the worst in its history)
(Fernández Rubio 1996 :
4). As the incoming minister and considering that the history of Spanishcinema is a venerable one which dates back to the 1890s,
Cortés’s comment was highly insensitive. It was made in the
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Spanishcinema has enjoyed
numerous instances of significant national and international success but
against a background of industrial weakness and apparent long-term decline.
For example, the astonishing international impact of Almodóvar’s
Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (1989) undoubtedly opened a
window for what Paul Julian Smith calls ‘a mini-boom of Spanish
One of the most prominent features
of Spanishcinema since the end of the dictatorship in 1975 has been its
obsessive concern with the past. This forms part of a wider
preoccupation in Spain with recuperating the past. According to Jo
Labanyi, ‘Recent years have seen something approximating to a
“recuperation industry’”, with the refurbishing of
Spanishcinema is known for
producing more explicit images (of both sex and violence) than most
other contemporary European cinemas. On the wider international circuit,
this reputation has been fuelled by legal and media controversies
surrounding the US release of films such as Vicente
Aranda’s Amantes (1991) as well as Pedro
to overcome our desire for
narrative. This desire for narrative is in fact one of several forms of
desire which structure Gay’s film and make it a relevant instance of
contemporary Spanishcinema and, more specifically, a privileged space for
the exploration of the uncertain and slippery concept of Catalan cinema.
This chapter attempts to identify those forms of desire and the links
This collection analyses the significant
changes in the aesthetics, production and reception of Spanishcinema and
genre from 1990 to the present. It brings together European and North
American scholars to establish a critical dialogue on the topic of
contemporary Spanishcinema and genre while providing multiple perspectives
on the concepts of national cinemas and genre theory. We start from the