The child in Spanish cinema

Author: Sarah Wright

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.

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‘The study will… be of great value to scholars and students of Spanish culture and film, not only as a survey of the child's presence therein but also as an engaging series of creatively theorized close readings that enrich understanding of films canonical and otherwise.'
Sarah Thomas, Brown University
Modern Language Review Vol 112, Part 1
January 2017

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